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Indiana Baseball Survives 14 inning Scare vs Ball State

Indiana baseball left-handed pitcher Tommy Sommer throws against Ball State Wednesday. Sommer provided 4.1 innings in relief for Indiana in the 14 inning win Wednesday. (Mark Timko/HN)

When the first pitch was thrown Wednesday night at 6:08 p.m. between Indiana and Ball State, it was 66 degrees with the sun peeking through scattered clouds and over 1,800 fans in attendance.

Five hours and 34 minutes later, in the bitter cold 40 degree night and about 30 bundled up fans remaining, Indiana shortstop Jeremy Houston sent everyone home with a walk off single in the 14thinning to beat Ball State 9-8 and capping off a wild midweek matchup.

“It was a frustrating game, tough conditions to play in and the early part was just really tough for us,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “I thought Tommy Sommer did a great job of getting us a hold and stabilize the game and then we just kind of pieced it together to get back in it.”

Indiana came into Wednesday’s game leading the nation with a 2.27 ERA. Starting pitching and bullpen have been Indiana’s strength this season, but coming off a quick turnaround after Tuesday’s 3-0 win vs Notre Dame, Lemonis was faced with a challenge.

Freshman right-hander Connor Manous got the nod and only lasted two innings, after usual midweek starter Tim Herrin pitched six scoreless Tuesday. From there, Brian Hobbie’s five runs allowed in one-third of an inning put Indiana down 6-1 in the third.

Although down five, the Hoosiers didn’t panic, they stayed patient at the plate, sticking to their game plan and scored three runs in the third all from bases loaded walks making it a two run game.

“Their splits were a lot of walks and a lot of strikeouts,” Lemonis said. “So we knew we could get back in the game and get into their bullpen. I think we answered after they got the five spot, we came back and got a couple which was big.”

Indiana walked 16 times in the 14 innings affair with senior outfielder Logan Sowers drawing five and junior outfielder Logan Kaletha walking three times.

Kaletha reached base his first six plate appearances, including a solo home run in the fourth to make it 7-5. His seven home runs on the year are now tied for the team lead with injured third baseman Luke Miller.

The Hoosiers were able to get runners on all night, but weren’t able to get them in. Indiana left 20 men on base and hit just 4-for-25 with runners in scoring position.

They pieced together runs and got back in the game by scoring five of their seven runs in the first nine innings via a walk or a wild pitch.

“It’s frustrating because I thought a lot of times we swung out of the zone in those situations,” Lemonis said. “They’ve got power stuff and we saw some really good arms tonight and in a tough night to hit, but still I just think controlling the strike zone is a big piece.”

While the first three Hoosier pitchers lasted 3.2 innings and allowed seven earned runs, Sommer set the tone for the next four pitchers going 4.1 innings of one run ball.

Three more Hoosiers followed combining to pitch six shutout innings, highlighted by left-hander Andrew Saalfrank’s seven strikeouts in three innings.

In the end, the Hoosiers found yet another way to comeback and win and picked up two important back-to-back mid-week wins courtesy of Houston’s walk-off heroics in their longest game of the season.

“Really tough to do,” Lemonis said. “I’ve been challenging them the last couple of days because I knew these two days would be tough for us, but I felt like they had great energy and still played well at the end.”

At 28-6 on the year, the schedule gets tougher for Indiana as they head to Ohio State (25-10, 5-1) for a three game series this weekend.

Zain Pyarali

I am a junior from Edwardsville, Illinois majoring in Sports Media. I formerly worked for the Indiana Daily Student for two years serving as the Sports Editor and beat reporters for Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Field Hockey during my time with the student newspaper. Currently I am the Men’s Basketball beat reporter for IU Student Television while I also broadcast games for BTN Student U. Email me: zpyarali@thehoosiernetwork.com and follow me on Twitter: @ZainPyarali

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