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Indiana baseball wins road series at Michigan State

Indiana baseball won two of three games on the road at Michigan State this weekend as the Hoosiers have yet to lose a Big Ten series this season.

After easily beating Michigan State on Friday 13-4, Saturday’s game was moved to Sunday due to inclement weather and made for a double-header.

In game two, Indiana had their nine-game winning streak snapped by a 5-3 loss but rebounded to win the series in game three as they crushed the Spartans 11-2.

Following the series, Indiana’s record now stands at 27-13 overall and holds a 9-3 record within conference play. The Hoosiers are now first in the Big Ten with Nebraska, Michigan, and Iowa behind them to make up the top four.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how the series turned out with three takeaways.

Missed opportunity in game two

In what was a great opportunity for Indiana to earn a sweep disappeared in game two of the series when the Hoosiers were up 3-0 in the seventh inning before proceeding to lose 5-3.

The bottom of the seventh inning was a disaster for Indiana as they allowed all five of Michigan State’s runs in the frame. Sophomore Tommy Sommer struggled when replacing junior starter Tanner Gordon as he allowed four of Michigan State’s five runs.

This game was the Spartans’ first win in Big Ten play. With Michigan State hovering in second-to-last place of the conference standings and only having ten wins on the year, this was a series Indiana had a great opportunity to sweep.

The loss hurts Indiana’s resume and may come back to haunt them later in the season when it comes to seeding and placement in the postseason.

Justin Walker showing promise at the plate

Sophomore shortstop Justin Walker has always been known for his stout defensive ability but never has had a ton of success in his time at Indiana thus far.

Despite having just, a .178 batting average and being a consistent end-of-the lineup guy, Walker had a great series from the plate.

The sophomore only had two hits in the series, but they weren’t two routine groundballs; Walker hit his first two home runs of his season. The first came in game two, the other in game three.

If Walker were to continue showing improvement with the bat he could further solidify his argument to be the everyday shortstop role after taking it from junior Jeremy Houston in the Penn State series.

Andrew Saalfrank continues to dominate

Coming into the 2019 Indiana baseball season, most wouldn’t have expected junior Andrew Saalfrank to arguably be Indiana’s most reliable arm past senior Pauly Milto. Yet, the junior has more than exceeded expectations.

Saalfrank had another dominant day on the mound for Indiana as he earned the win over the Spartans in game three of the series. He went seven innings in only 90 pitches allowing two hits, one walk and one run while striking out 11 batters.

This was the junior’s fourth consecutive game with double-digit strikeouts and has reached double-digits in five of his last six games. Saalfrank has earned a win in his last four outings as well.

Looking forward

Indiana will play Ball State on Tuesday but this time at neutral site Victory Field in Indianapolis, home of the Triple-A Pittsburgh Pirates Affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians.

Following that midweek match-up, Indiana will be back home to host Minnesota for their next conference series.

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