Big Ten play returned in exciting fashion for Indiana on Friday. The Hoosiers’ doubleheader at Northwestern was full of high scores and home runs and featured one historic performance from sophomore Matt Lloyd as they won both games, 13-9 and 6-5, respectively.
Northwestern drew blood first in game one as they managed to score three runs in the 2nd due to a flurry of mistakes by Indiana. After Joe Hoscheit and Connor Lind both advanced bases on a Jonathan Stiever balk, Hoscheit scored on a passed ball and Lind scored on a sacrifice fly from Jake Schieber. Later in the inning, Nick Paciorek’s blooper into center field turned into an RBI double after a miscommunication from Indiana’s Colby Stratten and Craig Dedelow. After the rough inning, the Hoosiers trailed 3-0.
Indiana made up some ground in the 3rd, though, when freshman Matt Gorski’s three-run home run brought home Tony Butler and Stratten to tie things up at 3-3.
However, the struggles from the previous inning carried over for Stiever, who was making his first real start (he pitched one inning on Wednesday) after suffering an injury earlier in the season.
In the Bottom of the 3rd, Northwestern tacked on five runs off of five hits including two RBI triples from Matt Hopfner and Schieber. Hoscheit and Paciorek also recorded RBIs during the Wildcats’ throttling of Stiever in the inning, giving them an 8-3 advantage.
That’s when Lloyd channeled his inner Kyle Schwarber and put the team on his back.
After sealing the game in the ninth as a pitcher in the Hoosiers’ previous game against Cincinnati, Lloyd, one of three Hoosiers who play in the field and pitch, stepped up as a DH on Friday. Chris Lemonis’s placement of Lloyd in the lineup paid off as Lloyd hit a solo home run off of Tommy Bordignon in the 4th to cut Northwestern’s lead to 8-4. Then, in the 4th, after Dedelow scored off of a Jake Matheny sacrifice fly, Lloyd hit his second home run on a three-run shot to right field off of Pete Hofman to tie it up at 8-8.
Hoscheit gave Northwestern the lead in the 7th with an RBI double but it did not last long. In the 8th, the home runs from Indiana kept coming as Logan Sowers and, who else but Lloyd, hit back-to-back dingers off of Josh Levy. It was Lloyd’s third home run and fifth RBI of the day, giving him the Indiana record for most home runs in a single Big Ten game. Alex Krupa’s RBI single brought in Butler and capped off the Hoosiers’ big inning, giving them the 11-9 lead.
The Hoosiers were able to tack on two more runs in the 9th, which was plenty to cap off the 13-9 comeback victory. Lloyd also stepped in at pitcher in the 9th and closed out the Wildcats. Why not, right?
Lloyd’s amazing day and consistent pitching late from Cal Krueger and B.J. Sabol who combined for five strikeouts while spelling Stiever made up for Indiana’s early mistakes.
That was all the momentum the Hoosiers needed as Lloyd and Indiana’s bats stayed hot in game two.
Both teams kept the offensive firepower going in the 1st inning. After Dedelow’s single to right field scored Krupa, Lloyd homered yet again, his fourth on the day, bringing home three more runs. Hoscheit had a three-run dinger of his own in the 1st for Northwestern but Indiana still held an early 4-3 lead.
From there, it was junior pitcher Brian Hobbie’s turn to shine for the Hoosiers
Solid pitching and defense from both teams took over as Krupa’s solo home run in the 4th inning was the last run until the senior scored in the 9th off of a Gorski sacrifice bunt. Indiana benefitted from two key double plays at the end of the 4th and 5th innings that were both set up by senior second basemen Tony Butler but it was Hobbie, who went a full nine innings with four strikeouts for the Hoosiers, that secured the 6-5 win.
Despite two 9th inning runs scored by Hopfner and Horscheit, Hobbie was able to outlast the Wildcats by striking out Paciorek for the final out.
Lloyd, with his combined four homers and eight RBIs on the day, and Hobbie, with his complete game, were the obvious MVPs of the day for Indiana. But Indiana’s batting order as a whole was on fire. The Hoosiers blasted seven home runs in the two games.
Indiana (12-8-1, 2-0) has now won eight of their last nine contests and will finish out their series with Northwestern (5-16, 0-2) tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.