The Hoosiers wasted little time getting runs on the board this afternoon in an 8-7 win in Game 2 of a 3-game tilt with conference foe Michigan. The win improves IU's record to 19-21 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten play. Eric Arnett picked up his 9th win of the season, and Josh Phegley connected for his 11th homerun of the season as the Hoosiers put together a much better performance at the plate than they did yesterday against Michigan ace Chris Fetter.
IU jumped on Michigan starter Alan Oaks (0-3) in the second inning with 4 runs on 4 hits, but the Wolverines got one back in the bottom half of the second after a double plated the leadoff batter who reached on an error. With Indiana leading 4-1, lightning struck and the teams were forced to take a break in the action. After about an hour delay, the Hoosier bats did not cool down as Phegley hammered a pitch over the left field wall to start the 3rd, and after a walk to Alex Dickerson, the Hoosiers forced Michigan to go to the pen early, chasing Oaks before he even recorded an out in the 3rd.
Arnett, the conference leader in ERA coming into the game, has been nearly unhittable all season but struggled a bit in this one (the rain delay was likely a contributing factor) as he gave up 5 hits and walked 4 in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings combined. With his pitch count at 131, Arnett was having trouble getting the Michigan hitters out, and Coach Tracy Smith decided to go to Chris Squires out of the pen with 1 out in the 7th.
After surrendering 4 runs in the 7th (all of which were to Arnett's credit) to allow the Wolverines to pull within 1, Squires was finally able to stop the bleeding. With 3 saves on the year (including 2 in conference play), Squires, or "Q" as his teammates call him, has been pitching very well of late, and it was more of the same this afternoon. Clinging to just a 1 run lead with the Michigan bullpen holding the IU bats at bay, it was imperative for "Q" to slam the proverbial door on the Wolverines. By allowing just 2 hits and striking out 3 in 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, Squires did just that, ultimately securing a Hoosier victory and his team-high 4th save of the season with a strikeout to end the game (with the tying run on first). The IU pen has been much more reliable in conference play, and we can only hope that is a trend that will continue for the remainder of the season.
At the plate, the IU bats cranked out 14 hits (4 for extra bases). The 5-9 hitters came up big as #5 hitter Kipp Schutz and #7 hitter Jake Dunning each had 3 hits apiece, while #8 hitter Evan Crawford and #9 hitter Vince Gonzalez each drove in 2. Tyler Rogers (#6 hitter), Schutz, and Crawford each crossed the plate twice as well. Back in the leadoff spot this afternoon, Chris Hervey also recorded a pair of hits in support of the cause for the Hoosiers.
This was a great team win all the way around, and I am glad IU was able to even the series at 1 heading into tomorrow's series finale featuring an all-lefty match-up between Matt Bashore and Michigan's Eric Katzman. Game time is set for 1:05pm. Tune in live at IUHoosiers.com. Let's hope for 2 of 3! Go Hoosiers!