Things looked bleak for Indiana after Matt Lloyd blew a save opportunity in the Top of the 9th and Ball State forced extra innings with an RBI single.
However, the Hoosiers were able to pop right up off the mat and win the game in the Bottom of the 10th, where smart baserunning by Laren Eustace and a game-winning single from Matt Gorski were good enough to send the Indiana back to Bloomington as winners in a 4-3 thriller.
Indiana opened the scoring in the second, when Logan Sowers led off the inning with a single, then moved to second when Gorski beat out an infield single. Ryan Fineman advanced both runners when he grounded out to third, and Sowers was brought home when a balk was called on Ball State starter Colin Brockhouse and the Hoosiers led 1-0 after two.
Cal Krueger got the start for the Hoosiers and threw two solid innings before running into trouble in the third. After getting the first two outs, Krueger gave up back-to-back doubles to Joe Gunn and Alex Maloney, which tied the game at 1. Matt Eppers followed up with a single to center, scoring Maloney and giving the Cardinals the 2-1 lead. Krueger escaped the inning by striking out Caleb Stayton.
After the action-packed early innings, neither team was able to plate another run until the sixth. Ball State replaced Colin Brockhouse with reliever Kevin Marnon in the third, and Kade Kryzsko entered the game in relief of Krueger in the fourth. Ball State made yet another pitching change in the fourth, when Evan Marquardt was called upon to replace Marnon.
B.J. Sabol entered the game in the Top of the 6th and inherited a bit of a jam with runners at first and second with one out. He handled the sticky situation with poise, striking out Seth Freed for the second out and forcing Griffin Hulecki to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Indiana was finally able to break through in the bottom of the seventh and Sowers got things started again, this time with a leadoff walk. After Gorski grounded out, Fineman followed with an infield single to short and the Hoosiers were in business with runners at first and third with only one out. Houston singled, driving in Sowers and advancing Fineman to third. That was all for Marquardt, and he was removed in favor of T.J. Baker. Baker was unable to stop the bleeding when he gave up a single to Krupa, but was bailed out when Fineman was gunned down at the plate trying to score from second. Tony Butler came up with a clutch single, which brought home Houston and putting the Hoosiers up 3-2.
Tim Herrin was called upon in the Top of the 8th and got off to a rocky start as he walked the first two batters, but was able to settle down after that and retired three in a row, including a pair of strikeouts, and the Hoosiers headed to the ninth leading 3-2 and looking to close out the victory.
Lloyd struggled in the Top of the 9th, though, and Ball State forced extras. Trent Theisen came up with a one-out single, and Alex Masotto replaced him as a pinch runner. The move paid dividends for the Cardinals, and Jeff Riedel doubled and Masotto scored all the way from first. Lloyd settled down and retired the next two batters, but the game was heading to extras.
It looked like the contest was heading for an 11th inning when Lloyd and Luke Miller were retired to start the frame, but Eustace gave the Hoosiers a lifeline when he was hit by a pitch. He then stole second, and Ball State elected to intentionally walk Sowers to get to Gorski. Gorski made the Cardinals pay with a single to right, scoring Eustace from second and making the Hoosiers walk-off winners.
Indiana improves to 22-16-2 (8-6-1), while Ball State falls to 21-20 (8-7). The Hoosiers will be back in action this weekend at Bart Kaufman Field when they host a series with huge implications against No. 22 and Big Ten leading Maryland (28-11, 12-3).