Indiana squared off with the NC State Wolfpack in the second game of the Lexington regional, and it was a roller coaster of a game that saw the Wolfpack score twice in the top of the 12th to earn a 7-6 win.
The Wolfpack got on the board first with an RBI-triple to left field to make the score 1-0, but they couldn’t do any more damage as IU starter Pauly Milto struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Indiana struck back in the bottom of the first with Tony Butler, Matt Lloyd, and Luke Miller hitting back-to-back-to-back triples to take the lead 2-1. Craig Dedelow hit a sac fly to move Miller to third base, Logan Sowers drew a walk, and then NC State pulled their ace pitcher after just one third of an inning. Alex Krupa welcomed the reliever to the game with an RBI fielder’s choice to make the score 3-1, but was caught stealing to end the inning.
In the top of the second inning, NC State hit back-to-back doubles to get one of the runs back and make the score 3-2, but Milto answered with three straight outs to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third, Miller and Dedelow drew back-to-back one out walks to get the Hoosier offense going. Sowers the ripped an RBI-single down the left field line to make the score 4-2.
Milto gave up a single to start the top of the fourth and things only got worse as he gave up a two run shot in the next at bat to make it a tie game, 4-4. Following the home run, Milto got three straight outs to limit the damage.
In the bottom of the fifth, Miller singled, advanced on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a Sowers double to left, giving the Hoosiers a 5-4 lead.
From there, both teams went scoreless until the top of the eighth inning when Hoosier reliever BJ Sabol gave up a solo bomb to knot it up at five runs a piece.
The two teams battled back and forth, each trying to break the tie until the 12th inning when, in his fourth inning of work, closer Matt Lloyd and the Indiana defense allowed two unearned runs. The runs were preceded by an error on a double-play attempt from shotstop Jeremy Houston and a wild pitch, making the score 7-5.
It looked bleak for Indiana following those fielding gaffes, and it looked even worse after Butler and Lloyd both struck out to start the bottom of the 12th. But the Hoosiers had a little bit of fight left in them.
Miller worked his way to a 3-2 count and drew a walk, then Dedelow flared one into left. Attempting to make a diving snag, the NC State left fielder missed, allowing Miller to score from first and Dedelow to advance all the way to third.
This put Logan Sowers at the plate with the tying run just 90 feet away and two outs, but Sowers then proceeded to strike out swinging to end the game.
While it would be easy to pin this loss on the bullpen because they've been generally bad, this one wasn’t on them.
Lloyd, Sabol, and Cameron Beauchamp combined to give up a single earned run and two unearned runs on six hits across six innings. That’s pretty good!
This loss comes down to the fact that late in the game, Indiana hitters went to the plate looking to end the game with one swing of the bat.
The errors in the 12th didn’t help either. Houston and Ryan Fineman, both strong defenders, made mistakes that in most cases would be easily forgiven, but they happened in the 12th inning this time.
Milto gave the Hoosiers a solid start, allowing four runs on seven hits across six innings while striking out nine. Sowers was also a bright spot for Indiana as he finished with two doubles, two walks, and two RBIs in six plate appearances.
The Hoosiers will get a chance to rebound tomorrow at noon when they face the Ohio Bobcats in a do-or-die game. The Bobcats lost to Kentucky 6-4 in game one to land in the losers’ bracket.