Indiana and Purdue renewed the baseball chapter of the in-state battle this weekend at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington and, after a rough start to the series on Friday, the Hoosiers were able to come away with a series win against the Boilermakers who were previously unbeaten in Big Ten play. Here’s a recap of the weekend:
Indiana’s Friday night ace, Jonathan Stiever, put together one of his best starts of the season for the Hoosiers to start the series, as the right hander gave up just two runs on seven hits and struck out seven over eight extremely strong innings of work. However, outside of a Justin Walker RBI ground out in the 3rd inning and a Walker SAC fly in the 5th, the Hoosiers failed to crack the scoreboard.
With the score tied at two heading into the 9th inning, head coach Chris Lemonis brought on Cal Krueger to try to preserve the tie into the bottom half of the frame. After retiring two of the first three Boilermakers in the inning, Kruegar loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and a walk. Even with the bases juiced, it looked like Indiana was going to get out of the inning as Skylar Hunter hit a ground ball to Walker at short. But Walker had a critical misplay that let the ball squib away and allow a pair of runs to cross home plate. The Hoosiers did not recover in the bottom half of the inning and fell to Purdue 4-2.
Early on in the second game of the three-game set, Purdue tried to ride their momentum from their thrilling game one victory into a big early lead. The Boilers loaded the bases before recording an out in each of the first two innings at Bart Kauffman Field on Saturday. But Pauly Milto was stingy on the mound, and was able to finagle his way out of the two jams by only giving up a single run in the first.
The Hoosier bats responded to Milto’s effort in a big way in the third inning. Already leading 2-1 after taking the lead in the 2nd, Ryan Fineman and Matt Gorski led off the bottom of the 3rd frame with back to back home runs. That started a Hoosier avalanche that saw 12 batters come to the plate in the inning. The end of the onslaught came when Fineman got his second hit of the inning: an RBI single to score Logan Kaletha. In all, Indiana scored six runs on seven hits in the frame, and took a commanding 8-1 lead.
The Hoosiers piled it on in the 6th inning as they hung a four-spot. IU also added runs in the 5th and 8th innings to rout the Boilermakers 14-1. Fineman was the star for Indiana as the catcher went 3-5 with 3 RBIs, a home run and a double. Milto settled down after the first two innings to pitch seven strong frames in which he only gave up five hits.
After being blown out the day before, Purdue came out with a vengence to avoid a similar fate in the series finale. The Boilers scored in three of the first four innings of the ballgame, and chased Hoosier starter Cam Beuchamp after just 3.1 innings. After Jacson McGowen hit a sacrifice fly, Purdue held a commanding 5-1 lead midway through the fourth inning.
But the Hoosiers refused to go down quietly, and in the bottom half of the fourth Elijah Dunham and Justin Walker each had a RBI single to cut the Boiler lead to 5-3. Combined with shutdown bullpen outings from Connor Mannus and Cal Kruegar, Indiana kept the Boilers at bay. Meanwhile, the Hoosier offense continued to battle, as Ryan Fineman stayed hot at the plate with an RBI single in the 5th, and Scotty Bradley belted his third home run of the campaign to tie the game at five.
After the Bradley home run, both offenses fell quiet as the game went to extra innings. Utility player Matt Lloyd came on in relief Indiana to provide five innings of shutout baseball. Other than a leadoff double from Purdue in the 12th, and a pair of two-out singles from Indiana in the bottom half of that frame, neither team threatened to score until a Colby Stratton leadoff single in the bottom of the 13th. After a Justin Walker SAC bunt, Logan Kaletha, who was 0-4 on the day-stepped to the plate. The Centerfielder crushed a 2-2 pitch over the left-center field wall, and the Hoosiers walked off to beat Purdue 7-5 in 13 innings.
With the series win, Indiana (22-6, 3-2) finds themselves above .500 in Big Ten play and in prime position to make a run toward the top of the standings with their weekend series against Northwestern starting Friday. First, they’ll host Indiana State on Tuesday.
Editor’s note: Over the past couple weeks, the baseball coverage at The Crimson Quarry has been lacking. Far fewer articles on the Hoosiers, and college baseball in general, than I wish to publish have been run on this website. As the Assistant Editor responsible for leading baseball coverage for The Crimson Quarry, I take full responsibility for this gap in coverage and can assure our readers that for the remainder of this season, and beyond, we will aim to provide recaps and analysis that will better reflect the coverage we’ve provided over the past few seasons, of which we are extremely proud, rather than our work over the past couple weeks. - Alex Robbins, Assistant Editor.