Indiana’s first game of the Big Ten Tournament was a back-and-forth battle against No. 10 Maryland that resulted in a 5-6 loss in the 11th inning.
The over-four hour ball game saw a bit of everything from a balk, a late lead change, and a walk off hit by pitch in the 11th inning. Although the Hoosiers fell just short of the upset and are now facing elimination, the pitchers took to the mound, keeping Indiana in the game until the final moments.
Indiana was tasked with the challenge of Maryland sophomore pitcher Jason Savacool, who has held opponents to a mere .207 batting average throughout the year. Though Indiana had struggled against starting pitching in recent matchups, the Hoosiers jumped on the Maryland ace late in the game. Savacool went 6.2 innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs.
The Hoosier pitching staff was the star of the show, limiting Maryland’s offense late in the game to force extra innings. Indiana started junior Ty Bothwell on the mound in only his second start of the season.
Bothwell struck out six batters in his 3.2 innings of work before sophomore Reese Sharp took over. Sharp pitched a career-high 93 pitches and struck out a season-high nine batters in 5.1 innings.
Junior Jack Perkins came in to relieve Sharp in the bottom of the 10th, pitching 1.1 innings and adding three strikeouts. The 18 strikeouts by the three Hoosier pitchers mark a Big Ten Tournament record, and it’s the most Indiana has struck out all season. In the bottom of the 11th, Perkins loaded up the bases and was unable to leave without damage — he hit freshman Ian Petrutz to bring in the winning run.
The Hoosier pitchers delivered strong performances for the majority of the game, but one messy inning cost them what would have been a tremendous upset and a trip to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Indiana looks to rebound Friday night against Illinois at 5:40 p.m. CT to keep their season alive in an elimination game.