Indiana Baseball: Hoosiers Hang on to Beat Northwestern in Series Opener

Indiana built a big lead, but then hung on through the final out to beat Northwestern 5-4 Friday in the first game of an important three-game series in Evanston.

EVANSTON, Ill. – Indiana's baseball team continued its winning ways on Friday, getting a 5-4 victory over Northwestern that went right down to the wire. It was the Hoosiers' third straight win.

For the longest time, this win looked like it was going to be a breeze, but it didn't turn out that way. Indiana had built a 5-0 lead, but then had to hang on for dear life.

Starter Tommy Sommer was terrific early, allowing just one hit through the first six innings. 

And he got plenty of support from Indiana hitters as well. It started in the third inning, when Drew Ashley was hit by a pitch, Grant Richardson singled and Cole Barr walked to load the bases with one out. Paul Toetz struck out, but then freshman first baseman Kip Fougerousse laced a two-strike pitch sharply to right to drive in two runs.

In the top of the seventh, Indiana added on in a big way with three more runs to take a 5-0 lead. Richardson opened the inning with a single and Barr walked again. Toetz then doubled to right, driving in Richardson. Morgan Colopy filed out to center, scoring Barr on a sacrifice fly. Designated hitter Tyler Van Pelt then singled, scoring Toetz.

Sommer (4-1) came out for the seventh, and the Wildcats finally figured him out. After an inning-opening walk, Northwestern got four straight singles off of Sommer with one out, scoring two runs. Nathan Stahl came in out of the bullpen and got a quick strikeout, but then Northwestern's Stephen Hrustich doubled, driving in two more runs to make it 5-4. A groundout ended the inning.

Stahl got through the eighth allowing just a single and Indiana closer Matt Litwicki, the hard-throwing sophomore from Dyer, Ind., came in to pitch the ninth, his first action since March 21. After a leadoff single, he coaxed a fly ball and groundout, and then struck out Hrustich to end the game. 

It was his fourth save of the season. In 6 2/3 innings this season, he has allowed only two hits and no runs. 

Northwestern came into the game leading the Big Ten in home runs with 45, but Indiana pitchers kept them in the yard on Friday, allowing six singles and two doubles. The Hoosiers have allowed only nine home runs all season.

Sommer threw 92 pitches and didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, extending Indiana's hitless streak to 12 1/3 innings after last Saturday's no-hitter against Illinois. Sommer's four wins are tied for the lead in the Big Ten.

Indiana's McCade Brown also has four wins. He'll shoot for No. 5 on Saturday when he starts for the Hoosiers. Game time is set for 2 p.m. ET at Miller Park in Evanston. 

Indiana had nine hits on the day. Fougerousse, Richardson and Toetz all had two hits each, and Colopy, Van Pelt and freshman shortstop James "Tank'' Espalin. It was the first career hit for the highly touted infielder from Glendora, Calif.

Big Ten weekend schedule

Friday's schedule (April 16)

  • Iowa 14, Rutgers 12
  • Indiana 5, Northwestern 4 
  • Michigan 21, Minnesota 5
  • Nebraska 8, Penn State 2
  • Maryland 10, Ohio State 6
  • Illinois 13, Michigan State 4

Saturday's schedule (April 17)

  • Iowa at Rutgers (doubleheader), 11 a.m, ET
  • Indiana at Northwestern, 1 p.m. ET
  • Nebraska at Penn State, 1 p.m. ET
  • Purdue vs. Michigan State, 6 p.m. ET (at Champaign, Ill.)
  • Michigan at Minnesota, 2 p.m. ET
  • Ohio State at Maryland, 2 p.m. ET
  • Michigan State at Illinois, 7 p.m. ET

Sunday's schedule (April 18)

  • Iowa at Rutgers, Noon ET
  • Indiana at Northwestern, Noon ET
  • Nebraska at Penn State, 11 a.m. ET
  • Purdue vs. Michigan State, 1 p.m. ET (at Champaign, Ill.)
  • Ohio State at Maryland, 1 p.m. ET
  • Michigan at Minnesota, 2 p.m. ET
  • Purdue at Illinois, 5 p.m. ET

Monday's schedule (April 19)

  • Purdue at Illinois, 4 p.m. ET 

 Big Ten standings

For up-to-date Big Ten standings, CLICK HERE