IU baseball came into the weekend leading the Big Ten with three series to go. After going 1-2 against the Michigan Wolverines, IU finds itself a game back of first place.
In the first game, IU’s pitching was rocked for ten runs. Junior starter Tommy Sommer only lasted 2.1 innings, giving up five runs on five hits. Senior reliever Braden Scott allowed four runs in 1.2 innings.
By the end of the fourth inning, the game was in hand for the Wolverines, who led 9-2. Each team added a run late in the game. Michigan won the opener 10-3.
Although the Hoosiers failed to score runs, they did have ten hits in the first game. IU left nine base runners stranded throughout the game, including leaving the bases loaded in the top of the seventh after cutting the lead to six on a sac-fly from sophomore center fielder Grant Richardson.
In Saturday’s second game, the Hoosiers were able to convert on more opportunities and errors from the Wolverines. Sophomore starting pitcher McCade Brown held Michigan scoreless and his offense built a 7-0 lead within the first six innings.
IU took advantage of a throwing error from Michigan 5th year infielder Christian Molfetta, scoring four runs, three unearned, in the top of the third. Richardson added three more with a home run off of the scoreboard in right to extend the lead to seven in the top of the seventh.
After allowing three straight batters to reach base to begin the bottom of the seventh, head coach Jeff Mercer opted to go to his bullpen, calling on freshman reliever John Modugno.
After recording a strikeout, Modugno allowed the next four batters to reach base, as Michigan cut a seven-run lead to two, 7-5. Modugno and sophomore closer Matt Litwicki recorded a strikeout and a groundout respectively to prevent the Wolverines from taking the lead.
IU responded in the top of the eighth inning, scoring six more runs due to bad pitching from Michigan. The leadoff man, freshman designated hitter Kip Fougerousse, reached base on an infield single. After a groundout, Fougerousse advanced to third on a balk from graduate reliever Joe Pace.
Pace walked the number eight and nine batters, seniors Collin Hopkins and Jeremy Houston, to load the bases with one out and the top of the order up for the Hoosiers.
Junior Drew Ashley drew a 3-2 walk to extend the lead and knocked Pace from the game. Pace’s replacement, junior Willie Weiss, hit IU freshman second baseman Paul Toetz on his third pitch to score another run, walked Richardson and gave up a single to junior third baseman Cole Barr. Fougerousse would add two more on his second at-bat of the inning to extend IU’s lead to 13-5.
Michigan staged a two-out rally against Litwicki in the bottom of the eighth, recording five hits and three runs, cutting the lead to five. IU took game two, 13-8.
In Sunday’s rubber match, IU’s sophomore starter Gabe Bierman had one of his best outings of the season, limiting Michigan’s explosive offense to four runs and five hits in 7.1 innings of work. IU wasn’t able to provide Bierman with any run support against Michigan sophomore starter Jacob Denner except a solo home run from freshman Morgan Colopy.
In the eighth, with Michigan leading 3-1, IU had a chance to tie the game. With two outs and runners at second and third, Fougerousse grounded out on a 3-0 pitch to the shortstop, putting an end to IU’s best scoring threat of the game. Michigan responded by scoring three runs, two unearned, in the bottom of the eighth. Michigan took game three 6-1 and the series 2-1.
IU fell to second in the Big Ten standings, half a game behind Nebraska and half a game in front of Michigan with eight games to go. IU has five games in seven days, starting on Tuesday against Illinois, which is a makeup game from their series in April.
IU will then play two games Friday and Saturday against Nebraska and two Sunday and Monday against Ohio State.
IU is 1-1 against Nebraska and 0-4 against Ohio State on the season.