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Indiana wins pitcher’s duel, takes first game from Xavier

Jonathan Stiever throws 7 2⁄3 scoreless innings and the Hoosiers win 1-0

Sean Mintert

Jonathan Stiever kept Xavier’s bats as cold as the weather, as he pitched a stellar 7 & 23 shutout innings in a 1-0 Hoosier victory. Tony Butler’s solo home run in the bottom of the third was all the offense IU needed, as Stiever scattered five hits while sending five Musketeers down on strikes.

It looked as though Xavier starting pitcher Zac Lowther was struggling with his control, after giving up back-to-back walks to start the game. He then struck out Matt Lloyd and forced Luke Miller to hit a grounder to third, but Mitch Gallagher dropped the throw to second and everyone was safe, giving Indiana an early scoring opportunity with the bases loaded and only one out. However, Craig Dedelow lined out hard to second and Logan Sowers struck out swinging to end the early threat.

Indiana had a shot a getting a run in the second, when Austin Cangelosi lined a one-out double off the right field wall, but Jeremy Houston and Alex Krupa both struck out to end the inning.

The Hoosiers were able to break through in the bottom of the third, when Tony Butler continued his hot hitting with a solo home run to left field. The good start to the inning did not continue, as Lowther settled down and was able to work around a two-out single by Craig Dedelow to limit the scoring to just one run.

After three excellent innings, Jonathan Stiever got into some trouble in the fourth, where he gave up a pair of one-out singles to put runners at first and second. He then forced Blaine Griffiths to fly out to right, but it was deep enough to advance the lead runner to third. Nate Soria popped out to first, and Stiever was able to escape the jam.

Indiana had a half-chance to score in the bottom of the fourth when Jeremy Houston ripped a two-out double into the left field corner. Alex Krupa then struck out swinging and nearly made it to first after the pitch got away from catcher Nate Soria, but was called out at first on a bang-bang play that could have gone either way.

Xavier looked like they would have a shot at a run in the top of the sixth, when Rylan Bannon drilled a one-out double deep to left center. Stiever then froze him with a great pickoff move, and Tony Butler applied the tag before Bannon could move a muscle. Stiever then struck out Conor Gammes swinging and within two pitches, the Xavier threat was neutralized.

Zac Lowther’s outing ended in the top of the seventh, and Xavier turned to sophomore Matt Kent to take over with one out. Alex Krupa beat the throw on a hard-hit grounder to second, Tony Butler drew a walk, and the Hoosiers had runners first and second. Kent was able to settle in and forced Matt Lloyd to pop out to first and Luke Miller popped out to third, ending the inning.

In the top of the eighth, Laren Eustace entered the game for Alex Krupa and took over in center field, moving Craig Dedelow to left. The move paid dividends, as Eustace made a great sliding catch for the first out of the inning. Stiever then hit Matt Fallon with the second pitch of the at bat, and he moved to second after a passed ball. Mitch Gallagher then flew out to center, but that was all for Stiever, who ended his night after extending his scoreless streak to 17 & 23 innings. Tim Herrin was brought in to finish the inning, but he was unable to do so, giving up an infield single to Joe Gellenbeck, which moved Fallon to third. Chris Lemonis turned to Matt Lloyd to escape the jam, and he struck out Rylan Bannon to end the inning.

Lloyd returned in the ninth to close out the win, and after giving up a one-out single to Chris Givin, he forced Blaine Griffiths to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Indiana will continue their series with Xavier on Saturday afternoon at 2:05, with the third game on Sunday at 1:05.