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Indiana Baseball Wins Series Vs Illinois; Stay in Big Ten Race

Indiana baseball left fielder Matt Gorski hit a solo home run Sunday vs Illinois. He leads the Hoosiers with a .368 batting average this season (Mark Timko/HN)

Indiana baseball’s silent bats were brought back to life Sunday afternoon.

Back to back home runs from Scotty Bradley and Matt Gorski in second inning pushed Indiana out to an early 3-0 lead as the offense continued to roll and beat Illinois 9-2 to win the series.

“They disappeared for a little while for us,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “But Scotty’s home run and getting those two home runs back to back I think kind of took it off everybody’s shoulders and we could relax and play the game.”

After averaging slightly over three runs per game in the last six, the Hoosiers broke out for nine runs on 10 hits, including three home runs Sunday.

The offensive revival was exactly what Indiana was missing over the last six games. They dropped the series opener to the Illini after putting up just two runs Friday and then won a 2-1 game in 12 innings Saturday.

Sunday, they were able to get ahead and let starting pitcher Tim Herrin settle in to throw a career high seven innings while holding the Illini to just two earned runs.

“They have a good offense and I was going in there trying to execute pitches,” Herrin said. “Throw strikes, pitch to contact and I had a lot of good plays behind me with Jeremy at shortstop, Drew Ashley at third and then a few good plays in the outfield too.”

Herrin only struck out one over his seven innings of work but picked up 11 groundouts and let his defense get the job done behind him.

Lemonis said when Herrin has his best stuff; he doesn’t strikeout a lot of hitters, but rather lets opponents pound his two-seam fastball into the dirt for ground balls.

The Hoosiers are no stranger to strong pitching however, leading the nation with a 2.40 ERA. Without Pauly Milto (1.83 ERA) in the rotation this weekend due to injury, Indiana starters were still able to throw 19.2 innings over three games allowing just five earned runs.

Perhaps the biggest thing the Hoosier pitching staff did all weekend was limit Illini first baseman Bren Spillane at the plate. He entered the series leading the nation in batting average (.444), and the Big Ten in home runs (16) and RBI’s (46), but went just 2-for-9 against Indiana this weekend.

“Don’t let him beat us, that was our biggest approach going into this weekend,” Herrin said. “Their whole lineup is good but we knew he was one of the best in the country and we wanted to go into this weekend, not pitch around him but execute pitches and just not let him be the one guy that beats us this weekend.”

The series win now puts Indiana back on track with a 31-10 overall record and near the top in a very compacted Big Ten standings at 9-5 in the conference.

With three conference series left for Indiana, Michigan stands a top the conference at 12-2 followed by Minnesota (11-3), Purdue (10-4), Illinois (10-5) and Indiana (9-5).

The Hoosiers head to Minneapolis next weekend to take on the Gophers in what could be a very critical series if the Hoosiers still want to contend for a Big Ten regular season title.

“We had a rough week so coming in and winning and fighting after that really tough Friday night loss was huge for us,” Lemonis said. “It keeps us resume building and it keeps us in the top half of the Big Ten so that will be a big weekend next weekend.”

Zain Pyarali

I am a junior from Edwardsville, Illinois majoring in Sports Media. I formerly worked for the Indiana Daily Student for two years serving as the Sports Editor and beat reporters for Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Field Hockey during my time with the student newspaper. Currently I am the Men’s Basketball beat reporter for IU Student Television while I also broadcast games for BTN Student U. Email me: zpyarali@thehoosiernetwork.com and follow me on Twitter: @ZainPyarali

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