Coming into the Big Ten Baseball Tournament as the No. 1 seed didn’t change the recent fate for the Hoosiers in the event.
For the fifth straight year, IU lost its opening game of the tournament.
IU swept Iowa in a three-game series in Bloomington this season, but with its own NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Iowa got the better of IU on Wednesday night in Omaha, Nebraska. The No. 8 seed Hawkeyes knocked off the No. 1 seed Hoosiers 4-2, putting them in a familiar spot: the losers' bracket after the first night.
IU senior starting pitcher Pauly Milto and Iowa senior starting pitcher Cole McDonald seemingly battled pitch-for-pitch in a dominant pitchers duel that lasted for the first six innings.
McDonald was perfect through the first three innings and only allowed three base runners through the first five.
Milto allowed just four base runners through the first six innings, but it all fell apart in the seventh inning when Iowa took a lead it would not relinquish.
IU junior Matt Gorski singled to centerfield to drive in sophomore Drew Ashley in the bottom of the sixth as IU took a 1-0 lead. A lead which would be short lived.
In the top of the seventh, four of the first five Iowa hitters reached base as they rallied against the IU senior. Iowa had four hits in the inning as it scored three runs, taking a 3-1 lead.
The Hawkeyes added another run in the top of the eighth inning as Hoosier freshman Grant Richardson dropped a fly ball in shallow right field. Iowa took a 4-1 lead as the offense continued to struggle against McDonald.
McDonald finished the day with eight innings pitched, allowing one run on five hits while striking out nine IU hitters.
IU got a run back in the bottom of the ninth as sophomore Cole Barr drove in sophomore Elijah Dunham. Junior Scotty Bradley came up to the plate as the tying run with two outs, but a lineout to center field ended the game.
The No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds all lost their respective conference tournament opening games.
IU drops to 36-20 overall with the loss. Its postseason resume likely will not take a hit, as IU appears to be a firm No. 2 projected seed in the NCAA tournament by various bracket projections including D1 Baseball.
With the loss, IU will play No. 4 seed Minnesota at 2 p.m. Thursday. The loser of that game will be eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament.
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