Indiana baseball churned out a close 3-2 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes in walk-off fashion for its first Big Ten win of the season.
After being up 2-0 in the top of the ninth, the Hoosiers blew the lead and went to the bottom of the ninth tied with the Hawkeyes.
Facing a full count and sophomore Cole Barr on second, senior Logan Kaletha delivered a walk-off single past second base to score Barr and win the game in walk-off fashion.
“I’ve got a great feeling Logan is going to continue to come through for us in big situations,” Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer said.
WALK IT OFF LOGAN KALETHA!!!
The Hoosiers get a HUGE win in dramatic fashion! pic.twitter.com/7N2buITj5i
— Indiana Baseball ⚾️ (@IndianaBase) March 23, 2019
As great as Kaletha’s heroics were, the outstanding performance of senior ace Pauly Milto is what carried Indiana Friday night.
It was nothing short of a career night for Milto. The senior right hander went 8.1 innings while tying his career high for strikeouts at 10 and gave up seven hits, one walk, two runs (one earned), and one hit-by-pitch.
“Pauly is so good,” Mercer said. “He’s so composed.”
All of the hits Milto allowed were singles and Iowa didn’t have a single runner get into scoring position until the seventh inning. Not only was Milto dominant throughout the entire game, but he got better as the game progressed. The Friday starter accounted for six of his total 10 strikeouts from the fifth inning on. Additionally, in the eighth inning Milto struck out the entire side.
Though, Milto had a rough ninth inning in which he allowed the two runs to tie the game, one of them being unearned, Indiana would have never been in position to win this game if it weren’t for the senior.
Strikeout No. 10 for Pauly Milto!!
— Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) March 23, 2019
Mercer stuck by the decision to keep Milto in the game though.
“You trust the guy who’s earned the right to be trusted,” Mercer said.
Indiana’s bats were relatively quiet throughout the game too, increasing Milto’s importance to the win. The Hoosiers had eight hits on the game but weren’t getting much production out of their base runners and they struck out a total of 12 times.
Mercer explained that he wanted to put senior Matt Lloyd in for the ninth, but it wasn’t the right circumstances to do so.
“I just felt like Milto was the best option,” Mercer said. “It was too long of a gap and we can’t risk him (Lloyd) getting hurt by getting hot and then him sitting for 20 minutes in 30 degrees.”
At the end of the day, the Hoosiers won the game and started off conference play on the right foot and in turn earned their sixth straight victory.
“I think getting that first win got some more juice flowing through us,” Milto said. “A little more motivation for us to get the series win tomorrow.”