Indiana got its biggest win of the season on Tuesday night as Chris Lemonis edged out his mentor Dan McDonnell and the second ranked Cardinals 4-3 in front of a packed crowd at Bart Kaufman field.
The Hoosiers struck early against the Cards, as the first four runners reached base in the Bottom of the 2nd. Cardinal starter Rabon Martin walked Craig Dedelow and hit Logan Sowers to set up a Matt Gorski two-RBI double to break the ice. Ryan Fineman then replaced Gorski with an RBI double of his own. Martin looked like he was going to get out of the inning with no farther damage, but Tony Butler’s two-out ground ball found its way through the legs of Louisville 3rd basemen Tyler Fitzgerald, giving Indiana a commanding 4-0 lead.
Louisville responded quickly in the Top of the 3rd as Josh Stowers crushed a leadoff home run over the Hoosier bullpen in left field.
Indiana had a golden opportunity to really break the game open in the Bottom of the 4th, when an Alex Krupa double gave the Hoosiers runners on second and third with just one out. After Tony Butler ground out a tough (roughly) 15 pitch at bat that ended in a swinging strikeout, Adam Elliot replaced Brain Hoeing to face Matt Lloyd. Against Elliot, Lloyd drilled a liner down the left field line that looked like it would fall for a clutch two-out, two-RBI double to give Indiana a 6-1 lead; however, Stowers made the a huge momentum shifting diving catch to end the inning with no damage done.
Louisville rode that momentum into the Top of the 5th as a leadoff triple and a 1 out walk chased Hoosier starter Andrew Salfraank from the ballgame. Logan Taylor kept the pressure on, as he plated both runs on the second pitch he saw from BJ Sabol to get the Cards back within 1 at 4-3.
Even though Salfraank’s final line of three runs on three hits, three walks with four strikeouts doesn’t look overly impressive, Chris Lemonis had to be extremely happy with how well the freshman pitched in his 4.1 innings of work.
As happy as Lemonis was with Salfraank, he had to be even happier with the work of Indiana’s usually inconsistent at best bullpen. Sabol, Kade Krysko, Tim Herrin, and Lloyd pitched 4.2 scoreless innings to preserve the lead.
Lemonis made a smart move to put the lefty Herrin in to face Louisville slugger Brendan McKay. Herrin thrived in the lefty-lefty matchup, and proceded to strike out the projected top-5 pick in next months Major League Baseball draft. The Hoosiers limited McKay all night, as he went 0-3 with two strikeouts.
Lloyd notched his 8th save on the season in the 9th, retiring the Cardinals in order. Louisville didn’t go down without atleast providing a scare tho, as Colin Lyman’s fly ball almost tied the game before being caught to end the ballgame in deep left field.
With the win, IU manager Chris Lemonis improves to a 2-1 record against his former boss McDonnell. Lemonis worked under McDonnell at Louisville from 2007-2014 before landing the Indiana job.
The Hoosier victory not only ended Louisville’s (46-7, 23-4 ACC) 15-game winning streak, but it also gives Indiana (30-19-2, 12-8-1 Big Ten) its marque victory of the season. The win should end any doubts of the Hoosiers making the NCAA tournament.