Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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U stuns No. 8 Indiana in baseball

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports, Gophers Updated: May 16, 2014 - 4:19 AM

Two weeks ago, the Gophers baseball team faced a top 10 team in Florida State in Tallahassee and got swept. It had a chance to win two of those games and couldn't.

"We just didn't finish the games like we talk about all the time," Minnesota coach John Anderson said.

He reminded his players about that trip South before they faced No. 8 Indiana on Thursday night at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Ind.

This time, Minnesota had a chance for another upset and came through in the first game of the series.

With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the 10th inning and Dan Motl on first base, shortstop Connor Schaefbauer, a left-handed hitter, hit a ball down the foul line the opposite way, almost to the 330-foot sign.

After a long run, left fielder Brad Hartong dove: "I got the glove on the ball, so I should have come down with it, but it just popped out."

Motl scored, and Schaefbauer had his second RBI double of game. And as it turned out, the game-winning hit.

The Hoosiers got a leadoff double from Hartong to lead off the bottom of the 10th, but reliever Dalton Sawyer stranded him on second. The next batter lined out for the first out and then Sawyer struck out two.

"I am proud of our kids the way they competed and battled out there tonight," Anderson said.

Most of the game was a pitchers' duel between senior righthander Alec Crawford (4-1, 3.76) of the Gophers and senior lefthander Joey DeNato of the Hoosiers (11-1, 1.83).

DeNato, Indiana's ace, gave up only one run and five hits in nine innings. He struck out seven, walked five.

"He pitched, obviously, well enough to win," Indiana coach Tracy Smith said.

Crawford went eight innings, allowed one run and three hits. He struck out three, walked one.

"He was doing a good job of locating the ball down," Smith said. "We hit a lot of ground balls hard. They just didn't get through. Tonight we hit it at them."

Indiana had been playing as well as anyone in the country lately, averaging nearly 10 runs a game in a nine-game winning streak and giving up under two. It had outscored opponents in that unbeaten streak 86-15 and won every game by at least four runs.

"We had not had a game like this in a long time," DeNato said. "We had been in cruise control."

The Gophers proved to be a speed bump. The loss kept the Hoosiers (36-13, 19-3) from clinching an outright Big Ten title; they already had a share. They lead Nebraska, which won 2-1 over Illinois on Thursday, by two games with two games left in the season for both.

Minnesota (27-20, 13-9) clinched the fourth seed in the Big Ten tournament with this win.

Sawyer, the Gophers closer, also got into a jam in the ninth inning but got out of that one, too. Indiana got two runners aboard on a walk and an error, but Sawyer got a strikeout and an inning-ending double play.

"He did a good job of staying focused and kept executing pitches," Anderson said.

Sawyer, a 6-4 lefthanded sophomore, is 6-4 with a 2.78 ERA.

Anderson also praised Crawford. "He is such a competitor," Anderson said. "He stands out there on the mound. We talked about being able to execute three pitches against a very good team and we did that tonight."

The first two runs of the game were scored in the third inning.

Motl got an infield hit for the Gophers on a slow roller and Schaefbauer pulled the ball into the right field corner for a double. He tried to stretch the hit into a triple but was thrown out after the run scored.

Indiana scored in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases on a bunt single, a hit batter and an infield hit. A groundout scored a run, but Crawford prevented any more damage.

Schaefbauer was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. "He continues to swing the bat pretty well for us," Anderson said. Schaefbauer is hitting .296.

Motl was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

The two teams resume their series at 7 p.m. Friday; the Big Ten Network is carrying the game live.

Here is a look at the top of the Big Ten standings:

Indiana        19-3

Nebraska    17-5

Illinois        16-6

Gophers     13-9

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