Indiana baseball swept Northwestern in three games spanning from Friday to Sunday — the second time the Hoosiers have swept a fellow Big Ten team this season — and the first time on the road. In all three contests, Northwestern left 31 runners on base in total.
Indiana blanked Northwestern 4-0 Friday for the team's second shutout win this season, scored five unanswered runs in Saturday's 5-2 victory and withstood Northwestern's comeback attempts in Sunday's 11-9 win. Indiana was out-hit in two of the three games.
Indiana right-handed sophomore Luke Sinnard, who typically starts on Saturdays, was moved up to pitch Friday's series-opener. Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer explained the switch was to begin timing the ace's outings to be well-rested for the Big Ten Tournament later this May.
Sinnard tossed 6⅔ scoreless innings Friday, walked three and struck out seven Wildcats. Prior to the seventh inning, which Sinnard did not complete, the right-hander stranded six runners on base combined. Sinnard exited in the seventh with two runners on and two outs.
Right-hander senior Craig Yoho relieved Sinnard, and despite walking the first batter to load the bases, retired the following batter to hold Northwestern scoreless. Yoho finished tossing 2⅓ scoreless innings, earning his first save in an Indiana uniform through three seasons.
Sophomore outfielder Carter Mathison batted in all four of Indiana's runs Friday. Mathison hit a three-run home run — the outfielder's fourth home run in the past nine games — in the first inning against Northwestern graduate starter Michael Farinelli, who would then recuperate.
Farinelli allowed just two hits and struck out five, spanning from the second inning to midway through the eighth. Indiana, however, chased Farinelli in the eighth after the graduate issued a two-out walk and an infield hit placed two runners on base. Following Northwestern's pitching substitution, Mathison hit a one-run single — tying a season-high four runs batted in.
"(Farinelli) did a really good job mixing pitches," Mathison said postgame Friday. "He had his changeup; it was working well today. I know he was mixing his slider as well. He's been spotting the fastball. He was messing with our timing a lot today."
Northwestern seized the lead first Saturday, the lone game the Wildcats did so. Two doubles in the second inning — the latter hit by graduate catcher Cooper Foard to put Northwestern up 1-0 — prompted Mercer to relieve Indiana right-handed junior starter Seti Manase.
Indiana left-handed sophomore Ryan Kraft struck out the last batter in the second and tossed a career-high seven innings after that, not allowing an earned run and striking out seven. Kraft remained in the game by the time the Hoosiers scored their first runs in the eighth inning.
"It was just getting the first-pitch strike in," Kraft said postgame Saturday. "Staying ahead in the count really helps out when you're battling those long innings. I was told I could be coming in early so I just had a mindset of coming in as early as possible, so I worked with that."
Back-to-back hits from freshman outfielder Devin Taylor and sophomore infielder Brock Tibbitts tied the game, 2-2. Prior, Northwestern freshman starter Sam Garewal hurled a career-high 6⅓ scoreless innings to go along with striking out a career-high seven batters.
Saturday's contest carried into the 12th inning, Indiana's longest game this season. Junior outfielder Bobby Whalen’s run-scoring fielder’s choice broke the stalemate in the 12th, and Taylor's two-run double extended the lead to 5-2. Taylor posted a game-high three RBI.
Meanwhile, freshmen right-handers Connor Foley and Brayden Risedorph combined for three scoreless innings, striking out three batters. Risedorph's third-career save, and his first since two outings ago, April 23, improved Indiana to 3-0 in extra-inning games this season.
In Sunday’s finale, Indiana scored five runs in the first inning and Northwestern answered with three in the bottom half. As the Hoosiers scored four runs in the fourth inning to go up 9-4, Northwestern cut the deficit to 9-6 in the same inning. The two teams traded two runs in the seventh, before the Wildcats scored once for the final time in the ninth inning.
Risedorph allowed the ninth-inning solo home run to Northwestern senior infielder Evan Minarovic. Still, Risedorph managed to record back-to-back saves in two games. Indiana left-handed senior Ben Seiler gave up just one earned run across the fifth to seventh innings.
Indiana senior catcher Peter Serruto led the team with three runs batted in and Taylor became the ninth Indiana freshman in program history to reach 50 RBI in their first season in Sunday’s finale. Taylor is currently tied for No. 8 on that list with Sam Travis’ 2012 season.
Following Indiana’s three-game sweep over Northwestern, the Hoosiers improve to 34-14 and 12-6 in the Big Ten — just one game behind first-place Maryland — which swept Indiana in three games April 28-30. Indiana’s season continues Wednesday at Xavier University.