Whether it was the result of lingering hangover from Friday night’s letdown against North Carolina State, running out of gas, or it just not being their day, Indiana’s 2017 baseball season came to a crashing halt on Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers failed to show up for the first six innings and could not overcome the massive hole they’d dug themselves. Indiana gave up more runs against Kentucky than the program has allowed in more than five years and couldn’t get anything going offensively until anything they pushed across the plate was irrelevant to the outcome. Ultimately, after tacking on several meaningless runs, they were eliminated from the Lexington regional, 14-9.
Kentucky knocked out three hits in the Top of the 1st to take a 1-0 lead. But just one pitch into the Bottom of the 1st, Indiana had tied the ballgame on a Tony Butler leadoff home run. However, over the next five innings, Indiana got absolutely nothing going and the ballgame got away from them.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, beat Hoosier starter Cal Kreuger around a little more. In the Top of the 2nd, with two outs, Marcus Carson hit a solo home run to give Kentucky a lead they would not relinquish. Then in the Top of the 4th, Kole Cottam blasted his own solo shot to make it 3-1, before a walk and two singles made it 4-1 Kentucky. Kreuger then walked another batter to load the bases and saw his day end after just 3.1 IP.
BJ Sabol was able to induce a double play to escape the Top of the 4th without any more damage being done, but it was too late for Indiana.
Kentucky starter Zach Thompson, who, less than one month ago, dominated Indiana in Lexington in a midweek start (6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 10 K), was untouchable through six innings for the Wildcats. After Butler’s leadoff home run, Indiana managed just two hits over the next five innings, and only threatened once more, when Austin Cangelosi doubled to leadoff the Bottom of the 5th. But a Cangelosi baserunning blunder and two weakly hit balls allowed Thompson out of the inning unscathed.
For most of the day, Thompson made Hoosier hitters look silly, getting ahead in nearly every count and then slipping nasty breaking balls past anyone he faced. Indiana’s staff, though, couldn’t build upon Jonathan Stiever’s Saturday masterpiece and struggled throughout the afternoon.
After Sabol escaped the 4th and pitched a clean 5th inning, he found himself quickly in trouble with runners at second and third and just one out in the Top of the 6th. Chris Lemonis went to his bullpen again, and Cam Beauchamp came in and immediately gave up a double down the line to make it 6-1 Wildcats. After a walk and a bloop single, Beauchamp was done and Timmy Herrin got the call.
And after getting the second out with a strikeout, Herrin promptly gave up a grand slam to Riley Mahan, making it 10-1, and offering an emphatic realization that the Hoosier season was over.
The Hoosiers finally got to Thompson in the Bottom of the 7th when Logan Sowers hit his fourth home run of the regional, cutting the lead to 10-2. Two batters later, Cangelosi hit a two-run blast to left center to make it 10-4. But it was far too little and it came way too late for Indiana.
For good measure, Kentucky added four more runs in the Top of the 8th to extend the lead to 14-4 before Indiana tacked on five more garbage time runs in the Bottom of the 9th.
The loss marks the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Hoosiers (34-24-2) that has ended in the regional stage. It also marks the end of collegiate baseball for Butler and Cangelosi, as well as their fellow seniors Alex Krupa, Craig Dedelow, and Luke Stephenson.