ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Indiana's pitchers have been very good at avoiding crooked numbers all season, but that wasn't the case Friday in the critical series opener against Michigan.
The Wolverines got to Hoosier pitchers Tommy Sommer and Braden Scott in the third and fourth innings, and went on to rout Indiana 10-3 on Friday at Ray Fisher Stadium. It was Indiana's largest margin of defeat all season.
With the loss, the Hoosiers (23-11) are now tied with Nebraska (23-11) and are in a virtual tie with Michigan (24-12), with Indiana ahead by mere percentage points. Nebraska plays Northwestern Friday night in Lincoln, and can move into first place by a half-game with a win.
Indiana was in it early, taking the lead in the third inning on Cole Barr's two-run single, and it was another rally fueled by the bottom of the order. First baseman Kip Fougerousse and shortstop Jeremy Houston opened the inning with singles, and center fielder Grant Richardson drew a two-out walk.
Barr hit a fly ball that Michigan center fielder Christian Bullock initially went back on, but then was slow to break forward on the ball and it fell in front of him on a diving attempt, with Fougerousse and Houston scoring.
But in the Michigan third, things went haywire for the Hoosiers. Indiana starter Tommy Sommer allowed a single to third baseman Christian Molfetta and then loaded the bases with two walks. Griffin Mazur singled to tie the game at 2-2 and then Indiana coach Jeff Mercer opted to yank Sommer after just 47 pitches.
Lefty Braden Scott came in, but he allowed three straight singles and the Wolverines were suddenly ahead 6-2.
It got worse in the fourth, when a walk and a throwing error by Indiana second baseman Paul Toetz allowed two baserunners. Scott struck out two batters, which should have ended the inning, but with two down, Mazur hit a towering home run to left to make it 9-2.
Indiana did threaten a bit in the seventh, scoring a run with four singles, the last of which, by third baseman Cole Barr, drove in a run. But pinch-hitter Tyler Van Pelt popped out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Michigan tacked on another run in the eighth on a home run by right fielder Clark Elliott
The two teams meet again on Saturday, with McCade Brown (4-2, 3.06 ERA) getting the start for the Hoosiers. He'll square off with Michigan's Cameron Weston (5-2, 2.93 ERA), the current Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Game time is 2 p.m. ET
The final game of the series is on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. It will be televised on ESPN2. Gabe Bierman (5-2, 2.26 ERA) will start for Indiana against Michigan's Jacob Denner (3-3, 4.22 ERA)
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- 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