ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Indiana has been hovering near the top of the Big Ten standings all season long, and they're nationally ranked now as well. On Sunday, for the first time all year, the nation gets to check them out on TV
The all-important rubber game of their series with Michigan on Sunday will be televised on ESPN2. First place in the Big Ten is on the line for the Hoosiers. In the most recent full season, Indiana won the Big Ten title in 2019, and Michigan went to the College World Series, losing in the final. The rivals can really battle.
Indiana starter Gabe Bierman has been lights out lately, going 4-0 in his last five outings and pitching a complete game last Sunday in the 4-2 win over Nebraska that put Indiana back into first place at the time.
Indiana coach Jeff Mercer would love another extended outing from Bierman, because his bullpen has been a little taxed all weekend. Indiana used four relievers on Friday, pitching 5 2/3 innings, and then three more on Saturday, pitching another three innings.
Mercer even went to closer Matt Litwicki early on Saturday, bringing him in in the seventh inning. He pitched through the eighth, throwing 27 pitches. Braydon Tucker closed out the game in the ninth, and retired the side in order on 16 pitches. It will be interesting to see if they are available on Sunday.
"We went to Matt early because that was sort of the do-or-die moment right there in the seventh,'' Mercer said. "I wasn't about to let that game slip away with my best bullpen arm sitting down there twiddling his thumbs. We wanted to use him, and then just figure out the ninth inning later. It worked out fine, and Braydon's a veteran. He was good in the ninth, and I don't worry about him.''
Indiana first baseman Kip Fougerousse was Saturday's hitting star, going 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs. It was a big boost for the Hoosiers because the freshman was hitting just .195 coming into the game.
"He's been working hard, and we made some adjustments with him this week,'' Mercer said. "You could tell his hard work paid off, because he was hitting the ball hard.''
Here's everything you need to know about Sunday's game between Indiana and Michigan, and how to watch:
- Who: No. 21-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (24-11 in the Big Ten) vs. Michigan Wolverines.
- What: Big Ten regular season baseball.
- When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, May 16, 2021.
- Where: Ray Fisher Field, Ann Arbor, Mich.
- How's Indiana Doing: Indiana is in second place in the Big Ten, just a half-game behind Nebraska. The Hoosiers are 13-4 since getting swept by Ohio State in a four-game series in early April. Indiana's pitching staff is second in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings (6.36), third in ERA (2.83) and eighth in WHIP (1.17). IU leads the Big Ten in all three categories as well
- How's Michigan Doing: Michigan is in third place in the Big Ten, 1.5 games behind Nebraska and a game behind Indiana. Starter Cameron Weston
- Weekend Series: Michigan won the first game on Friday, beating the Hoosiers 10-3. Indiana starter Tommy Sommer was forced from the game early with split fingernail, and Michigan zapped the Hoosiers with five runs in the third and three more in the fourth to blow the game open. Indiana bounced back on Saturday, winning 13-8 thanks to a great start from McCade Brown and a big day at the plate from freshman first baseman Kip Fougerousse, who was 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs.
- Sunday's Pitchers: Indiana will attempt to win the series on Sunday, with Gabe Bierman taking the mound. Bierman is 5-2 on the season with a league-leading 2.26 ERA. He has been a Sunday stud for the Hoosiers. He's 4-0 in his last five starts, allowing just five runs in 35 2/3 innings, good for a 1.26 ERA over that time frame. Michigan will counter with left-hander Jacob Denner (3-3, 4.22 ERA)
- TV: ESPN2
Related stories on Indiana baseball
- HOOSIERS BOUNCE BACK (Saturday): Indiana got another great start from McCade Brown and Kip Fougerousse had a career-high four RBIs in the Hoosiers' 13-8 win over Michigan. CLICK HERE
- TOM BREW COLUMN: Can the Hoosiers bounce back from the worst blowout loss of the season? CLICK HERE
- MICHIGAN WINS SERIES OPENER (Friday): Michigan puts up a couple of crooked numbers and blows out Indiana 10-3, the Hoosiers worst loss of the season. CLICK HERE
- ASHLEY THE SPARK: Indiana's offense has been in high gear lately, and it starts at the top with leadoff man Drew Ashley, who's having another exceptional season. CLICK HERE
- PITCHERS GOOD TO GO: Despite some high pitch counts last weekend, Indiana coach Jeff Mercer says his three starters – Tommy Sommer, McCade Brow and Gabe Bierman — are all fresh and ready to go this weekend against Michigan. CLICK HERE
- BIG TEN STANDINGS, SCHEDULE: Indiana took a half-game lead in the Big Ten, barely ahead of Nebraska and Michigan. Here's the latest, plus this weekend's critical schedule. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete schedule for the season, including links to game stories from Tom Brew for every game this season. CLICK HERE