Eric Arnett continued his season-long dominance on the mound in IU's 3-2 victory over Northwestern in Game 1 on Saturday as he went the full nine innings and only allowed 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 8 to pick up his league-leading 11th win of the season. While his one flaw on the mound today was the 6 walks he allowed, in his defense, I will say that the umpire behind the plate did have a very tight strike zone throughout the game.
Despite Arnett's solid performance, IU was losing 2-0 going into the bottom of the 8th. With the top of the lineup coming up, both Chris Hervey and Jerrud Sabourin singled, and Josh Phegley followed with a four pitch walk. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Hoosiers got back-to-back RBI groundouts by Alex Dickerson and Kipp Schutz to even the score at 2. With Phegley now on 3rd, Evan Crawford took a 3-0 pitch up the middle to plate the go-ahead run. Kudos to the IU coaching staff for giving him the green light on 3-0 and to Crawford for having the confidence in himself to get the big hit when the Hoosiers needed it most.
In the top of the 9th, Arnett started things off by walking the leadoff batter, but he quickly settled down to induce a double play. The Wildcat threat did not stop there, though, as the Northwestern hitters connected on two consecutive hits with two outs (remember they only had 5 in the game). With the tying run on 2nd, the go-ahead run on 1st, and Chris Squires warming in the pen, Coach Tracy Smith chose to stick with his ace, and Arnett got the groundout we needed to end the game and seal the victory for the Hoosiers.
The Hoosier offense struggled most of the game but came through when it mattered most. For the game, IU scored 3 runs on 8 hits. Evan Crawford and Tyler Rogers led the way with 2 hits apiece. Chris Hervey, Jerrud Sabourin, and Josh Phegley all scored once for the Hoosiers while Alex Dickerson, Kipp Schutz, and Evan Crawford each drove in a run.
Not to be outdone by Arnett, junior Matt Bashore also put together a great pitching performance in Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader as the Indiana University baseball Hoosiers took another one from Northwestern with a 5-2 victory to move to 13-6 in conference play. The left-hander went 8 innings and only allowed 2 runs on 11 hits while striking out 10 against just a single walk. Chris Squires came on in the 9th to shut down the Wildcat offense and earn his 6th save of the season.
As in the first game, the Hoosier offense wasn't overly powerful but came through when it counted. IU scored 5 runs on 8 hits and 6 walks. Tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, the Hoosiers again put together a big inning and scored 3 runs on 3 hits. Alex Dickerson (2-4, 1 run), Evan Crawford (2-3, 1 run, 2 SBs), and Jake Dunning (2-4, 2 RBIs) all had 2 hits, while Josh Phegley added his 14th homerun of the season. Vince Gonzalez also had a hit in the contest and played stellar defense at 3rd throughout both games.
Although getting outhit by Northwestern 11-8 is never a good thing, IU did have 3 extra-base hits, 4 stolen bases, 6 walks, and 2 HBPs. It's great that we are finding ways to get on base, manufacture runs, and win games even if the offense isn't banging out 10+ hits a game. Here's to completing the sweep tomorrow afternoon! Go Hoosiers!
Big Ten Tournament
Our Indiana Hoosiers have officially made the Big Ten baseball tournament! Now we are fighting for seeding, which could ultimately prove to be very important throughout the double elimination tournament at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.