Indiana baseball’s 7-5 win over Purdue in 13 innings Sunday ended with a walk-off home run from junior center fielder Logan Kaletha.
But that wouldn’t have been possible without the eight innings of shutout ball in relief from sophomore Cal Krueger and junior Matt Lloyd prior, to get the Hoosiers to become walk-off winners.
“We struggled the last two days getting started, but I thought once we got to Cal there I thought Cal really slowed the game down,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “We were able to bang away and get back into the ball game.”
"That was probably one of the better team wins we've had so far."
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) April 8, 2018
The Hoosiers trailed 5-1 in the middle of the fourth after getting just 3.1 innings of work from starting pitcher Cameron Beauchamp, who allowed four runs. Freshman Connor Manous took over for Beauchamp on the mound in the fourth, allowing one run to cross the plate, but when it got to Krueger and Lloyd the Boilermakers were stagnant on offense.
Krueger entered the game in the sixth with Indiana trailing 5-4.
His last appearance was in the series opener on Friday when he came into a 2-2 game in the ninth, loaded the bases via two walks and a hit by pitch and allowed two runs to score on a costly error by freshman shortstop Justin Walker as Indiana lost 4-2.
But Sunday was different for Krueger. He set down all nine hitters he faced, while striking out four over a perfect three innings of work to keep Indiana in the game.
During his time on the mound, he was aided by a Scotty Bradley solo home run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 5-5.
“Honestly it feels very good playing behind those guys,” Bradley said. “You just know they’re going to go in there and pound the zone, you know it’s fun. Great pace to the game and all that, both of their stuff is pretty electric, so it’s fun to watch from first base.”
While Krueger got the job done from the sixth to the eighth inning, Lloyd was called upon in the ninth to keep the game where it was. The junior closer did just that, and more, going five shutout innings, striking out five and allowing just two hits in his appearance.
Lloyd is known for going multiple innings if needed for the Hoosiers in relief, but the five he threw Sunday were the most he’s thrown in his Hoosier career.
“It’s a little bit different, not something I’ve done in the past year,” Lloyd said. At Juco I was a starter so it was kind of just going back to my roots in that sense, but nothing too new for me.”
"If you have two bulldogs on the mound like that I have no problem knowing that we're going to come in and compete."
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) April 9, 2018
The biggest jam Lloyd got into in his outing came in the top of the 12th inning after allowing a lead off double to Purdue. He quickly locked down after that, striking out the next two batters he faced and then picked up a stellar defensive stop from shortstop Jeremy Houston to keep the game tied.
“It just fired me up, I always have faith in him,” Lloyd said about his sure handed shortstop, “Kind of read it off the bat and knew he was going to make the play, so just fired me up.”
Heading into this weekend series Indiana’s bullpen had been stellar with a 1.90 ERA over just under 100 innings of work. Krueger and Lloyd’s lockdown stuff solidified that stat and kept Purdue from putting any more runs on the board.
As they helped extend the game into extra innings, Kaletha ended it with a walk-off home run. But even after the game was over, the walk-off hero had some high praise for Indiana’s top pitchers out of the pen.
“Honestly Matt Lloyd probably the best baseball player I’ve ever played with and for him to come in and do what he did, it was unbelievable,” Kaletha said. “If you have two bulldogs on the mound like that, I have no problem knowing that we’re going to come in and compete.”