An exciting one it was on Thursday afternoon at Sembower field. With Eric Arnett getting some much needed R&R in preparation for the upcoming Big Ten tournament, a trio of Hoosier hurlers stepped up big as IU went home with a thrilling 6-4 victory on the strength of Jerrud Sabourin’s 2-run walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 9th. Joey O'Gara got the nod on the mound and kept the Hoosiers in it with 3 innings of 7-hit and 4-run (2 earned) baseball. Matt Carr came on in the 4th and turned in 4 innings of brilliant work as he yielded no runs and only a single hit. Closer Chris Squires followed Carr and held the Spartans scoreless over the final 2 innings to pick up the victory. Arnett gives up a little over 2 earned runs a start on average, and the trio of O'Gara, Carr, and Squires deserve some credit for only allowing 2 earned runs on Thursday. While I won't compare any combination of Hoosier pitchers to Arnett, those 3 guys did very well in his place and should be commended for keeping the Hoosiers in the game and ultimately setting the stage for them to win it in the 9th.
At the plate, the Hoosiers were actually outhit by MSU 11-9. Fortunately for the IU baseball team, 3 of those 9 hits were homeruns. The 3 long bombs included Josh Phegley's league leading 17th, Vince Gonzalez's 1st in a Hoosier uniform and of course Sabourin's walk-off blast, which was his 5th of the season.
To recap the thrilling conclusion, with the scored tied at 4 going into the bottom of the 9th, MSU recorded 2 quick outs, and it looked like the game was headed to extras. With just one out to work with, leadoff man Chris Hervey (1-1, 2 BB, 2 HBPs, 2 runs) stepped to the plate and demonstrated a toughness and desire to get on base that you would expect from the team’s only senior. Ultimately, Hervey’s 8-pitch at bat led to a walk and brought Sabourin to the plate. Sabourin (1-4, 3 RBIs) didn’t waste any time ending this one as he took the first pitch he saw deep to right and over the fence to give IU a big win in walk-off fashion.
Matt Bashore is scheduled to take the mound for the Hoosiers for Game 2, which was moved up from 3pm to 1pm due to impending rain.
With Illinois losing today, we have moved to #3 in the conference. Currently, we would play Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. If we can pass Minnesota or Ohio State, however, we would receive the first round bye. Since the Hoosiers cannot control the outcomes of those games, we simply need to beat Michigan State twice more to put ourselves in a position to potentially receive the #1 or #2 seed. Go Hoosiers!