Twenty-nine total runs, 27 total hits and eight total home runs were recorded in an in-state midweek matchup Tuesday at Bart Kaufman Field.
Runs were not hard to come by Tuesday, especially for Indiana, as IU more than doubled its run total from all of last weekend against Iowa. Four different Hoosiers had multi-hit games in the 16-13 victory, headlined by a 2-for-3, two home run and five-RBI day for sophomore Brock Tibbitts.
“When you face great pitching like we had all last week, it makes you better against that kind of pitching and you start to settle in against those kind of guys,” head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame. “We’ve learned how to start chipping away and play with all 27 outs.”
Luke Hayden made his second start of the season and the Ball Sate bats attacked him early. The first four batters he faced would come in to score via a Decker Scheffler grand slam to start things off. Hayden followed by getting out of the inning before giving up a leadoff walk in the second, where he would then be pulled for righty Ethan Phillips.
Indiana got three back in the bottom half of the first with a Devin Taylor sac fly and Carter Mathison two-run home run but Ball State responded quickly again. Phillips would allow a run from Hayden and three runs of his own to score in the second to give Ball State its largest lead in the game, 8-3.
After back-to-back clean innings in the third and fourth from Phillips and Nathan Ball, the Indiana offense came alive. It was an eight-run fourth inning that included seven hits and a Tibbitts three-run, go-ahead blast, his first of the game, that gave the Hoosiers a three-run lead.
“We’ve done this so many times where we come back now,” Mercer said. “All I say at this point is just, ‘Keep going and play all 27 outs, we’ve been here before.’ We knew that eight runs wasn’t going to get it done today for either team.”
Ball State responded and tied things up again in the top of the fifth with a three-run shot off the bat of Adam Tellier. The home run was responsible for three of the four runs that freshman Cooper Katskee surrendered in his two-inning outing. But Indiana responded quickly again.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hoosiers had the top of their lineup up. Bobby Whalen followed a Phillip Glasser lineout by reaching on a muffed throw from Ball State first baseman Blake Bevis. Next at bat, Devin Taylor doubled down the right field line to score Whalen and give the Hoosiers the lead again. With Taylor now at third, Tibbitts sent a no-doubter past the left field wall, his second of the game.
“I just had to stay with my approach and get back to fastball timing,” Tibbitts said about his performance at the plate. “It felt good for these two to actually go over the fence instead of getting robbed like last time.”
Ball State added one more on yet another home run in the seventh, the eighth home run of the game for either team, but that wrapped up the Cardinal scoring as Indiana grabbed one in the eighth to make the final 16-13.
The Hoosiers are back in action with a three-game set this weekend and a trip to Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini.