Sowers’ RBI single to right center lifted Indiana to a 4-3 walk-off victory over Rutgers Friday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
”We had talked during the week about, ‘when are we going to walk off? When are we going to have a comeback at the end?’” Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis said. “We have to win some of these games to get back on the right side, so I’m proud of our guys.”
The game came down to the bottom of the ninth inning as a result of two ties and two lead changes.
With runners on first and second and no outs, senior right-handed pitcher Jon Young replaced Driscoll on the mound. Young intentionally walked Hoosiers senior third-baseman Scott Donley, loading up the bases and setting up Sowers.
Sowers said he and Lemonis discussed the scenario before sophomore centerfielder Craig Dedelow’s at-bat.
”He said that we were going to bunt Dedelow, and they were going to walk Donley, and it was going to be up to me,” Sowers said. “(Lemonis) said, ‘just stay calm and hit the ball the other way. That’s kind of what happened.”
When Sowers heard the game winning hit could potentially come down to him, Lemonis said his reaction was good.
”He’s very mature, a very confident kid,” Lemonis said. “The good hitters want to be up at that time.”
Sowers wouldn’t have been in the situation had it not been for the stellar pitching from IU junior Caleb Baragar.
After giving up two runs in the top of the fourth inning, Baragar settled down and allowed no hits. He gave up just three hits and two runs overall, tossing six strikeouts in six innings pitched.
It was a stark contrast to Baragar’s previous home Big Ten start against Michigan on April 4, when he allowed five runs in the second inning in a 7-3 loss.
Baragar said that last performance was in the back of his mind during tonight’s game.
”I was just thinking, ‘that can’t happen again,’” he said. “Especially the first game of the weekend, set the tone. Can’t give up runs.”
Rutgers junior left-handed pitcher Mark McCoy kept the Scarlet Knights close, tossing eight strikeouts while allowing seven hits and three earned runs in six innings pitched. But McCoy’s performance was overshadowed by Young and Driscoll (0-4), who picked up the loss.
Right-handed pitcher Luke Harrison picked up the win as the closer, improving to 4-0 on the season after tossing two strikeouts and allowing just one earned run in two innings. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Indiana and gave them the edge in an important weekend series.
”It’s really big,” Baragar said. “Once you get the first game, it gives momentum for that team. Especially to pull it out as a team like we did today, everyone contributed so that’s always good.”