Over its last four Big Ten games, Indiana has done its best work at the plate with two outs remaining.
Tied in the bottom of the eighth with that many outs, Indiana’s two runs broke the tie and lifted it to a 6-4 victory over Ohio State Thursday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
The Hoosiers’ game one victory also clinched them a berth in next week’s Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis.
”I think every team in the country preaches two-out hits wins championships,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “Because in the postseason, it just seems like there’s always a guy at second or third and you’ve got to be able to get a guy home, and we’ve been able to do that here with all the pressure and everything. It’s nice to get those.”
Indiana (30-20, 10-10 Big Ten) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead over the Buckeyes (35-16, 13-9 Big Ten) through the first three innings, all off a home run and two-RBI single by sophomore centerfielder Craig Dedelow.
Dedelow, who finished 3-for-3 at the plate, said being more balanced has been a big part of his success. His home run landed just shy of the marker for 408 feet.
”I was looking for a fastball in, and luckily that’s where it was and luckily I put a good swing on it,” Dedelow said.
Starting his first game of the season, senior right-hander Luke Harrison threw four scoreless frames before giving up a three-run home run to Ohio State senior rightfielder Pat Porter. Porter, who accounted for all of the Buckeyes’ runs with four RBIs, went 4-for-5.
It was a minor blemish on an otherwise solid performance on the mound for Harrison, who threw a season-high 71 pitches while allowing six hits and tossing four strikeouts in four innings pitched.
”I thought he was pretty good,” Lemonis said when asked about Harrison. “He just competes. That’s what Luke does, and it was nice to see. I wish he had been a little bit cleaner, but he competed.”
Sophomore Thomas Belcher replaced Harrison on the mound with the game tied 3-3. He also tossed four strikeouts, but gave up just one hit and one earned run in two innings.
Trailing by one after the earned run off Belcher, freshman leftfielder Logan Sowers homered deep to center field to tie the game 4-4. It was his fourth home run of the season and first since April 4.
Senior rightfielder Will Nolden’s RBI double to right center broke the tie and gave the Hoosiers a 5-4 edge. Thanks to Nolden’s aggressive baserunning, his stolen third base set up freshman third baseman Isaiah Pasteur’s two-out RBI single to center field.
”Logan put a huge swing together to put us in a good position there,” Nolden said. “It’s lefty on lefty for a reason, so I knew I’d get a breaking ball at some point. I eventually got it, and was able to stick in the gap.”
Junior left-hander Will Coursen-Carr (1-1) relieved Belcher with a runner on first in the top of the seventh. His two scoreless innings, which included two strikeouts, preserved the lead for the Hoosiers and set up Scott Effross’ second save of the season.
”I thought Will Coursen-Carr was a big difference-maker,” Lemonis said. “We actually gave him the shirt tonight because you’ve got to get that hold in their, and I thought he came in and pitched great.”
As important as Coursen-Carr’s pitching was, clutch hitting from players like Nolden, Pasteur, and Dedelow have given the Hoosiers momentum.
Because of that timely hitting, they’re also going to the Big Ten Tournament. With two more games remaining in the Hoosiers’ series with Ohio State and the regular season, they have a chance to add to their NCAA tournament resume.
”We’re not satisfied,” Dedelow said. “But this is definitely big to us.”