COLUMBUS, Ohio Indiana patiently and meticulously scored 10 runs off 11 hits in the fourth and fifth innings to break the game open and then went on defeat No. 1 seed Ohio State, 13-3, Friday at Huntington Park. The win moves the 31-25 Hoosiers into a winner’s bracket “championship” game Saturday at 7 p.m. Ohio State, now 40-16, and Minnesota (36-16) meet in a 3:30 p.m. elimination game with the winner taking on Indiana.
The No. 3 seed Hoosiers have won all three games in this tournament easily with 34 runs scored and just seven allowed. Blake Monar fired the third consecutive controlling performance on the mound for IU, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up just five hits and allowing only three runs. He walked five, but wasn’t hurt by that total, struck out six and improved to 5-3 with the win.
Offensively, IU featured six multi-hit players with Tyler Rogers’ three hits and four RBI the most damaging.
“They are good,” Ohio State captain Justin Miller said. “They put good swings on everything. They are in a groove right now. Everything they hit is hit hard and they are finding the holes.”
Zach Hurley opened the game with a single off the freshman lefthander, moved to second on a wild pitch and after a ground out, scored on Dan Burkhart’s single to center for a 1-0 lead.
An inning later Ohio State added a run for a 2-0 lead. Miller, who has scored early in each of Ohio State’s two tournament games, walked, went to second on a groundout and scored on Tyler Engle’s infield single that included a throwing error.
Ohio State starter Dean Wolosiansky worked seamlessly through the first three innings, allowing a couple of hits but staying out of trouble with the help of four strikeouts and a double play.
The game then took an ominous turn with three consecutive innings of tense, bases-loaded baseball. Indiana won this series of mini battles, two-innings-to-none, and the prize – a winner’s bracket game win – soon followed.
Here’s what happened. Indiana is right there with Ohio State as one of the best hitting teams in the Big Ten – both teams came into the game with 197 extra base hits and batting averages around the .330 mark – and the Hoosier bats heated up in the fourth. Nine Hoosiers batted in the inning and five hits were collected, but fortunately, only three runs were scored when the bases were left loaded despite being juiced at one point with only one out.
Ohio State loaded the bases in the top of the fifth inning with nobody out but came away with no runs as Monar threw a 5-2-3 double play ball and backed that up with a fly ball to right to end the inning with IU still in front, 3-2.
The Hoosiers followed with five consecutive singles to score two more runs and chase Wolosiansky (11-2). Jared Strayer entered and after hitting Brian Lambert to bring home the sixth run of the game, Tyler Rogers tripled to clear the bases, increase the lead to 9-2 and keep the Buckeye fans glued to their seats for the rest of the game.
“Timing is everything,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. We have guys get two hits in the game but we couldn’t get a hit with the bases loaded when we needed one. Indiana then came up in the fifth and they took the doubt out of the outcome.”
For his part, Strayer calmed the Hoosier bats down. He worked the final 4.0 innings and allowed four hits and only two earned runs. He struck out four batters.
Game Notes and Random Thoughts from the Press Box:
Remember the dirt issue brought up in this column two days ago? Well, here’s more dirt on the dirt: the warning track a rusty-red color as opposed to the brown-blondeness of the clean dirt infield is actually not dirt. It’s lava. Real, crushed lava from a volcano. Columbus Clippers officials confirm this.
Google “active volcanoes” and one will find about 60 active volcanoes around the world in 12 geographic regions. Clippers officials don’t know where the crushed lava came from, but it would be a tasty treat for this column if it came from the Stromboli Volcano in Italy. And this revolutionary lava warning track concept would be rather evolutionary if it came from the Galapagos Fernandina Volcano on the Galapagos Islands. But this is baseball, America’s sport, so it probably came from Mt. St. Helens in Washington state.
Alex Wimmers has had a tremendous year for Ohio State, perhaps even an All-American season, but the sophomore’s run for National Pitcher of the Year has ended at the semifinalist stage. The five finalists were announced today by the College Baseball Foundation. They are: Mike Leake (Arizona State), Deck McGuire (Georgia Tech), Eric Arnett (Indiana), A.J. Morris (Kansas State) and Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State).
Another terrific crowd at Huntinton Park: 4,019 which brings the tournament’s total attendance to over 9,400, a Big Ten record that will grow with at least two more games to play.