Big Ten baseball: Iowa wins battle of pitchers over Indiana

Iowa's Cole McDonald turned in one of the best performances on opening day of the Big Ten baseball tournament.
Iowa’s Cole McDonald turned in one of the best performances on opening day of the Big Ten baseball tournament.

It looked more like a battle between two top seeds rather the lowest and highest seeded teams.  In a pitching duel,  eighth-seeded Iowa managed to score a 4-2 victory over the league’s regular season champion Indiana in Wednesday’s opening round of the Big Ten baseball tournament. 

Following a day when all four lower seeded teams won, the tournament faces losing two higher seeded teams with Thursday’s elimination games. The double elimination tournament runs through Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.  Sunday’s championship game is a single elimination contest and will crown the Big Ten’ automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament. 

Iowa’s Cole McDonald didn’t allow an extra base hit until the bottom of the sixth inning when Indiana’s Drew Ashley led off with a triple into left field.  Matt Gorski drove him home with a single on the next at-bat. 

Indiana Hoosier batter swings at ball
Indiana batters struggled at the plate as the Hoosiers managed five hits against Iowa pitchers.

McDonald had given up only two hits over the first five innings.  Following Gorski’s RBI, Matt Lloyd hit into a double play.  Elijah Dunham flied out to center field to end Indiana’s at-bat.

Brendan Sher hit a double to lead off Iowa’s seventh inning.  Tanner Wetrich drove him home with a single to left field.  Sher was almost tagged out at home but Hoosier catcher Ryan Fineman dropped the ball,  allowing Sher to cross home plate. 

Mitchell Boe walked to put Iowa runners at first and second with one out.  Justin Jenkins then loaded the bases with a single.

Chris Whelan drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to left field.  Connor Manous relieved Indiana starter Pauly Milto,  who took the loss after pitching 6 2/3 innings,  surrendering seven hits, a walk and recording three strikeouts.

Pauly Milto goes into his pitching stretch for Indiana
Pauly Milto kept Iowa hitters in check until the seventh inning when the Hawkeyes scored three runs to take a 3-1 lead.

Iowa added another run to take a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning. The Hawkeyes scored again in eighth. 

The Hoosiers attempted a ninth inning rally,  putting a couple of runners on base and even scoring a run.  But,  it fell short,  and the Hawkeyes celebrated an unexpected victory. 

McDonald earned the victory,  giving up five hits in eight solid innings.  He also had nine strikeouts. Grant Leonard closed out the game for Iowa, recording his 14th save.

Iowa batter gets ready to swing the bat
Iowa’s batters took control late in the game and ended with nine hits against Indiana.

Eighth-seeded Iowa faces fifth-seeded Nebraska at 9 p.m. today in a winners bracket game. The Huskers beat fourth-seeded Minnesota 8-2 in the last game of the day.

Indiana plays Minnesota in an elimination game at 1 p.m.

Box score:

Iowa      000 000 310 – 4
Indiana 000 001 001 – 2

WP – Cole McDonald (6-3) 8 innings
LP – Pauly Milto (8-6) 6 2/3 innings

In other first round action in the Big Ten tournament:

Maryland pitcher goes into his delivery stretch
Maryland’s Hunter Parsons earned the win as sixth-seed Maryland started the day off with a 6-2 win over third-seed Illinois.

Maryland 6
Illinois 2

The Maryland Terrapins pulled off the first surprise of the day upending third-seeded Illinois 6-2 Wednesday. Maryland,  the sixth seed, broke open a 1-1 tie with two two-run home runs in the top of the eighth inning. The Terps added an insurance run in the ninth inning. 

Maryland advanced to the winners bracket game at 5 p.m. today against Ohio State.

Illinois, a potential NCAA tournament team,  plays in today’s first elimination game at 9 a.m. against Michigan. 

Box score:

Maryland 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 4 1 – 6
Illinois      0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 – 2

WP – Hunter Parsons (10-3) 7 1/3
LP – Leland (6-3) 1 inning

HR: Maxwell Costes (13), Justin Vought (10)

Michigan player tags first base before Ohio State player can reach it safely
Michigan first baseman Jimmy Kerr beats an Ohio State runner for the out. OSU earned a 2-1 win to advance to the winners bracket.

Ohio State 2
Michigan 1

The Ohio State Buckeyes loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth inning, converting the opportunity for two runs as they defeated Michigan 2-1 in a first round matchup. The seventh-seeded Buckeyes overcame a pitching outing that gave up eight walks and allowed the Wolverines to load the bases themselves.  Michigan took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. 

Ohio State will take on sixth-seed Maryland in a winners bracket game at 5 p.m. today. Michigan and Illinois, the numbers two and three seeds coming into the tournament, will play an elimination game at 9 a.m. today. 

Box Score:

Ohio State 000 000 020 – 2
Michigan   000 010 000 – 1

WP – Will Pfennig (2-3) 1 2/3 innings
LP – Karl Kauffmann (8-6) 8 innings

Nebraska pitcher looks at catcher for sign
Husker pitcher Matt Waldron dominated Minnesota Wednesday night, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing only six hits.

Nebraska   8
Minnesota  2

Nebraska jumped out to an early 3-0 lead as Angelo Altavilla drove in two runs with a one-out triple in the top of the first inning as the Huskers rolled past fourth-seeded Minnesota 8-2 in the nightcap of the Big Ten baseball tournament. Nebraska added five runs in the third inning as the fifth-seeded team chased Gophers starter Patrick Frederickson from the game.

Matt Waldron provided a solid start on the mound for Nebraska, pitching 7 1/3 innings, scattering six hits and recording nine strikeouts.

Altavilla led Nebraska at the plate, going two for four with three RBI. Spencer Schwellenbach also drove in three runs, all with a third inning hit.

Nebraska takes on Iowa at 9 p.m. today in a battle of neighboring state rivals. Minnesota faces top-seeded Indiana in 1 p.m. elimination game.

Box score:

Nebraska   305 000 000 – 8

Minneosta  010 000 100 – 2

WP: Matt Waldron (6-3)

LP: Patrick Frederickson (2-4)