And like was the case Saturday night against Vanderbilt, the Hoosiers were victims of some late inning offense by an opposing team.
Saturday it was a two-run ninth that broke a tie. Sunday it was a two-run eighth that broke a tie and led Radford to a 5-3 victory over Indiana in a NCAA Tournament regional elimination game at Hawkins Field.
The loss brought an end to the rookie season of IU skipper Chris Lemonis who finished with a 35-24 record. It was also the final game for IU senior starters Casey Rodrigue, Scott Donley, Brad Hartong and Will Nolden, along with senior pitchers Luke Harrison and Ryan Halstead. Two other senior reserves – Chris Sujka and Ricky Alfonso – also saw their college careers come to an end in Nashville.
Radford (45-15) won for the second elimination game in a row and advanced to face Vanderbilt. The Highlanders will have to beat Vandy twice in a row to advance out of the regional. The win also avenged a 7-1 loss to Indiana on Friday.
In getting to this point, Indiana had used some good pitching and timely hitting to put together a solid late season run.
But neither of those elements were in play Sunday in Nashville.
The pitching was average at best. Caleb Baragar started but gave up three hits in a row to start the game and Radford quickly put IU in a 2-0 hole. Baragar pitched three innings, threw 45 pitches and faced 14 batters.
Jake Kelzer came on next and gave up on earned run but had control issues, too. He hit two batters in one inning and loaded the bases by walking another.
Thomas Belcher, who pitched Friday against Radford, got IU out of a jam that Kelzer had created but got himself into trouble in the eighth. With the score tied at 3, Belcher got the first batter to ground out but then hit the second batter. The next one attempted a sacrifice bunt that went right back to Belcher but his throw to first pulled Austin Cangelosi off the bag to put runners on first and second with one out.
Lemonis went to closer Ryan Halstead to try and end the rally but Halstead made matters worse. He walked the No. 9 hitter to load the bases with one out and then gave up a sharp single to right field by Shane Johnsonbaugh that made it 4-3. Josh Reavis followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate the second run of the inning.
Overall, the IU pitching staff hit four batters and threw five wild pitches.
“We just have to execute better,’’ Lemonis said. “I think HBPs and some of the walks, that’s just not very characteristic of us.’’
Lemonis said that the wet conditions late didn’t help Halstead either.
“I think the weather was getting to him a little bit,’’ Lemonis said of Halstead. “His breaking ball was starting to spike and it was a little bit wet. He’s one of the best closers in the country. He’s the all-time everything in Indiana I think, so the situation doesn’t really bother him, but I think the weather got to him a little bit there late.’’
Indiana trailed 3-0 before the Hoosiers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Craig Dedelow led off with a walk and Will Nolden slapped a single to left. After Cangelosi sacrificed them over, Brian Wilhite was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rodrigue that ripped a single to right to score two, and Wilhite scored on an error by the pitcher on an errant pickoff throw.