Indiana appeared to be heading down the same path as Friday night, allowing Long Beach State to gain an early lead.
But history wouldn’t repeat itself Saturday thanks to sophomore centerfielder Craig Dedelow.
Dedelow went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, and junior right-hander Scott Effross tossed four scoreless innings as Indiana defeated Long Beach State 7-2 to even the series Saturday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
”You know, for about the last three weeks it’s felt like a must-win,” Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’re in that war. We’ve talked about being a wildcard team, that’s how we feel like we’re playing it right now, just every win that we can get trying to take advantage of every game.”
In the first game of the series, Indiana (27-20) gave up a run in the second inning. That 1-0 lead for Long Beach State expanded to nine before the Hoosiers put a pair of runs on the board.
Freshman designated hitter Brock Lundquist gave the Dirtbags (25-21) another early lead Saturday off a two-run home run in the top of the first inning.
”That kid put a really good swing on a pitch that I don’t I have any business giving a home run off of,” IU junior right-hander Kyle Hart, who got the start, said. “We threw him three straight offspeeds and then a fastball that blacked out inside and he just made a great swing… it’s not like after that I was distraught or anything, I expect somebody to put a good swing once or twice a game.”
Hart did what the Hoosiers failed to this past Friday – remain composed despite facing an early deficit.
He didn’t allow a single run after giving up the home run to Lundquist, and went on to throw a season-high 93 pitches in five innings while allowing four hits, two earned runs and one walk with one strikeout.
As Hart native battled on the mound, Dedelow helped the Hoosiers begin to chip away at the Dirtbags’ lead.
Dedelow’s solo home run in the bottom of the second inning cut the Indiana deficit to one. His sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth tied the game 2-2.
Lemonis and Dedelow both noticed the Hoosier dugout loosen up after the solo home run.
”Especially after giving up two in the first inning, especially on their home run, we just needed to come back and respond to that and I felt my home run did just that,” Dedelow said.
Senior second baseman Casey Rodrigue’s RBI single gave the Hoosiers a 3-2 edge in the bottom of the fifth, but the timeliest hitting came during the Hoosiers’ four-run bottom of the eighth. All four of those runs were scored with one out remaining that inning. Critical to that stretch was a two-RBI double by Dedelow.
Effross backed up Dedelow and Indiana’s offense with his work on the mound, tossing five strikeouts and allowing just one hit in four innings pitched as he earned the save.
With that effort, the Twinsburg, Ohio native extended his streak of having allowed just one run in his last eight appearances (20.2 innings pitched).
Effross’ tag on Long Beach State junior rightfielder Zack Rivera, and subsequent stare-down, led to Rivera and IU junior first-baseman Austin Cangelosi exchanging shoves. The benches cleared, but no fight broke out as the umpires and coaches quickly gained control of the situation. After the game, Lemonis dismissed it as nothing more than “some emotion.”
Still, the confrontation shows just how important the third game of the series will be in what could be a must-win for both teams.
”I feel like we do need to win this series, especially against a nonconference opponent like Long Beach State,” Dedelow said. “It kind of got chippy at the end, so they’re going to come out looking for a little bit more blood than we thought they were going to be, but it should be a good game tomorrow.”