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Indiana to face Nebraska for tourney championship

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Hoosiers advance with win over Michigan State

Sunday, May 25, 2014 - 12:01 am

Welcome to winner-take-all Big Ten tourney baseball stakes.

Top-seed Indiana will face second-seed Nebraska in a title-game showdown that will see if the No. 8 Hoosiers (41-13) can win their second straight conference title or if the Cornhuskers (40-18) will win their first.

The teams didn't play during the regular season.

Sophomore Sullivan Stadler (2-1, 2.92 earned run average) is set to start for the Hoosiers.

IU advanced to Sunday's final game at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha by edging sixth-seed Michigan State 7-4 with a three-run ninth inning on Saturday.

The big ninth-inning hit came on Scott Donley's two-run double.

The Hoosiers had twice blown one-run leads in the final four innings. But in the top of the ninth, center fieler Tim O'Conner and second baseman Casey Rodrigue both were hit by pitches to reach base, followed by catcher Kyle Schwarber's single. That set up Donley's big hit.

Reliever Jake Kelzer (1-2) got the first victory of his college career by pitching the final 1.2 innings. He allowed one hit, struck out two and didn't give up a run.

Coach Tracy Smith elected to go with inexperience when he started sophomore righthander Evan Bell. It was his first start of the season and second of his career. He allowed two runs and three hits in a career-high 4.1 innings.

Luke Harrison relieved Bell and gave up one run on two hits in 2.2 innings.

Donley was 2-for-5 with three RBI. Schwarber was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.

It was IU's third straight victory in Omaha. It is going for its third Big Ten tourney title to follow the ones it won in 1996, 2009 and 2013.

The Hoosiers have won 14 of their last 15 games and 29 of their last 32. Much of that is due to pitching. Starting pitchers have gone 50 straight starts without giving up more than three earned runs. In their last 15 starts, their earned run average if 0.79.

NCAA tourney pairings will be announced on Monday. Indiana is expected to host at least a regional, and perhaps a super regional if it advances to that round. Regional action starts next week.