“It feels great, just to play really good,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “I thought it was one of our better outings that we had. We just played a really clean game.”
Getting his third start of the season, junior left-handed pitcher Kyle Hart pitched 2.2 innings while tossing four strikeouts and allowing three hits with one earned run for the Hoosiers (23-15, 6-8 Big Ten).
Overall, Hart threw a season-high 57 pitches. Lemonis said Hart was on a pitching count for Friday night’s game.
Hart was replaced by Effross with two outs remaining in the top of the third inning. In addition to the four scoreless innings, Effross had four strikeouts and allowed just one hit. He also had the same pitch count as Hart.
“(Hart’s) done a better job starting, and Effross has done a better job relieving,” Lemonis said. “So we just kind of split that game up. Effross was really good, and I thought Hart was too.”
Part of that could be attributed to the Hoosiers’ defense, which committed zero errors while the Spartans (23-17, 7-6 Big Ten) committed three.
Backed up by the first time the Hoosiers recorded 15 or more hits since March 31, Effross had a recipe for success.
”Honestly, I think that’s our best-played game of the entire year,” he said. “The offense had 15 hits through eight scoreless innings, so that’s I think the most complete game we’ve played all year.”
Hartong led Indiana on offense, going 3-for-5. Against the Spartans last year, Hartong hit a combined 2-for-11 in that series.
”I was getting myself into good counts tonight, and that helps a lot,” Hartong said. “I think that helps a lot because I struggled against these guys last year. So I went over the scouting report, how they pitched me last year and I went off of that, stayed with my approach, and didn’t try to get out of it.”
Indiana fell behind early when Michigan State senior first baseman Ryan Krill, the second batter faced by Hart, hit a solo home run to right field. Once Hart settled down, and after Effross took over, the Spartan offense didn’t produce another run.
Freshman leftfielder Logan Sowers’ ground-rule double to center tied the game 1-1 for the Hoosiers in the bottom of the first. An RBI single by Hartong in the bottom of the third, followed by an RBI single by senior rightfielder Will Nolden in the bottom of the fourth, extended Indiana’s lead to 3-1 entering the fifth inning.
The Hoosiers did the most damage in the bottom of the seventh, when they recorded three of their 15 hits and added two more runs. Hartong’s RBI double to left center in the bottom of the eighth gave the Hoosiers their sixth and final run.
Friday’s win was an important one for Indiana, which currently sits ninth in the Big Ten standings. Only the top eight teams make the tournament.
”We know we’ve got to be one of the top eight teams, and we know this is a huge weekend,” Hartong said. “So it’s good to get off on the right start. We’ve just got to win, we’ve just got to worry about ourselves. We still control our own destiny, so as long as we win, we’ll be in.”