Pauly Milto Shuts Down Minnesota In Rubber Game

Sam Beishuizen, Staff Writer
The Hoosier

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TheHoosier.com

Indiana needed that one.

IU entered Sunday's rubber game against Minnesota reeling in Big Ten play after dropping consecutive series to Nebraska and Purdue. A loss would put the Hoosiers in a precarious position in need of wins fast with perhaps the best team in the conference in Michigan up next on the schedule.

With the pressure on, Indiana responded with a 4-0 victory.

"We had to make up some ground," IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. "We've let a couple go by, so it was huge for our guys. It says a lot about their character."

Indiana drew first blood with a four-run inning in the bottom of the fifth inning off Minnesota starter Toby Anderson after the teams traded scoreless frames through the first half of the game.

Freshman shortstop Jeremy Houston got the inning going with a single to right field. Senior center fielder Laren Eustace then laid down a nearly-perfect bunt down the first base line to put Houston into scoring position.

Sophomore third baseman Luke Miller cashed in when he ripped an 0-2 offering right back up the middle to plate Houston from second. Junior designated hitter Matt Lloyd kept the rally going with a single up the gut to put runners on first and second with just one out.

Junior right fielder Logan Sowers proceeded broke the game open with a three-run homer to left field. He knew it was gone almost immediately, flipping his bat as the ball sailed comfortably over the wall between the scoreboard and the flag pole in left.

"I got ahead 2-0 on the count and I was just looking straight fastball," Sowers said. "He gave me one over the plate and I just put a good swing on it."

IU starting pitcher Pauly Milto continued to show why Lemonis trusts him with the Sunday starting role with six quality innings of work. The sophomore allowed just three hits and struck out seven while walking five in his six innings of work on the way to picking up the win.

"Gutty. Gutty," Lemonis said of Milto's outing. "He really had to fight early. He threw a lot of pitches early on and settled in about the fifth inning and pitched great."

Milto's lone trouble of the afternoon came immediately after getting his four runs of support in the top of the sixth inning.

A pair of two-out walks set Minnesota up with the bases loaded and two outs, prompting pitching coach Kyle Bunn to walk out to the mound and talk things over with Milto. The conversation clearly worked because Milto got the next batter, Luke Pettersen, to strike out swinging on three pitches and escape the jam.

"It was nice for (Bunn) to come down and slow the game up," Milto said. "He just told me bear down, make the pitches, and that's what I did."

All told, Lemonis nearly pulled Milto before he could get the strikeout to get out of trouble. But a convincing conversation with Bunn in the dugout made the difference and bought Milto the chance he came up clutch in.

"We were close. We were looking at the matchups and everything else," Lemonis said. "Coach Bunn told me, 'They ain't hit him all day. We might as well give him one more guy.' He was right."

Sunday's game was a relative pitchers' dual compared to the the Golden Gophers' 11-0 win Friday and the Hoosiers' 13-12 victory Saturday. Miltop handed the ball off to freshman reliever Tim Herrin to finish off the final three innings of the game.

If nothing else, Sunday's win proved to Indiana the Hoosiers still have some scrap in them even after a tough loss Friday and a close win Saturday. With the Big Ten standings in flux, IU's performance Sunday was the type of stand it needed to make.

"It shows we can get punched in the mouth and fight back," Sowers said. "It's a huge win."

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