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Indiana Persists Through Struggles Late to Beat Northwestern

Laren Eustace and Matt Gorski celebrate after scoring in the eighth inning. The Hoosiers swept the doubleheader Friday against Northwestern. (Mark Timko/HN)

Indiana Head Coach Chris Lemonis summed it up best.

“It’s like the world’s lifted off you when you get some hits like that.”

Fatigued and 16 innings deep into Friday’s doubleheader, it’s what just about every Hoosier was feeling when finally, things changed.

With two outs in the eighth, sophomore Jeremy Houston broke through for Indiana, starting what quickly turned into a huge five-run comeback inning, securing a 6-3 victory in the second of two games against Northwestern.

“It’s all about confidence,” Houston said. “Even though we didn’t have the greatest second game, we still played our game and all we could do was fight.”

And fought they did.

Hoosier bats had been quiet up until that point in the contest – a radical turnaround from IU’s hot start to the day – as five different Hoosiers combined to drive in 12 runs in a shutout over the Wildcats.

Game one was yet another demonstration of what the Hoosiers have been able to do so well all year long. By taking the lead early yet again and running with it, Indiana forced the Wildcats into the bullpen early, and the Hoosiers never really looked back from there.

Catcher Ryan Fineman was excellent again and infielder Matt Lloyd led the way with four runs scored and four RBI’s—all on top of a solid rebound performance from starter Jonathan Stiever.

Until Indiana’s late game rally, it appeared as if the Indiana offense had done a complete 180 in the 45 minute period between the two games. On a night where the Hoosiers were zero-for-five with runners in scoring position going into the eighth inning, persistence and perseverance was the message.

“This game will knock you down quick but if you have confidence, it’ll bring you back up really fast,” Houston said. “It was just about anything I could do for my team.”

Though Pauly Milto, game two’s starter, surrendered some early inning runs to the Wildcats, the right-hander certainly pitched well enough to give his team an opportunity to win. Both Milto and Stiever each went seven innings for Indiana, allowing the Hoosier bullpen some rest and giving IU even more to work with heading into tomorrow’s series finale.

“It’s huge. I thought they were good, but they really competed and kept us in the game,” Lemonis said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get a great start from Cam (Beauchamp), but we have a lot of options to go to.”

Overall, there’s no shortage of positive takeaways for Indiana after tonight. While the potential of the offense was on display early and often, IU fought and found a way to come through with two outs – a rare area of weakness for them so far in 2018.

“We haven’t always been successful but we got it going there and we preach it all the time,” Lemonis said. “The last swing every day at BP is a two-out hit, and it’s hard to win at a high level if you don’t get some.”

Connor Hines

I am a freshman from San Diego, California majoring in Media. Outside of my work with The Hoosier Network, I broadcast games for WIUX student radio and serve as beat reporter for Indiana Softball. Email me at cohines@umail.iu.edu and follow me on Twitter @connorhines17.

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