Indiana baseball took its much talked about resiliency to a new level today, staving off elimination in the Big Ten tournament with a 5-4 win over Michigan in 13 innings.
Alex Krupa was the hero as his two-out single down the left field line scored Luke Miller with the game winner.
The game was the longest in Big Ten tourney history, lasting four hours and 38 minutes.
“What a great college baseball game,” Indiana coach Chris Lemonis said. “Tough that somebody has to lose a game like that."
The victory was the 100th win for Lemonis.
The Hoosiers are scheduled to play again tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., facing the loser of tonight’s game between No. 3 seed Minnesota and No. 7 seed Northwestern. Minnesota defeated the Hoosiers yesterday to open the double elimination tournament, 5-4.
Cal Krueger earned the victory, pitching the final three scoreless innings. The freshman is now 5-1.
“A huge effort,” Lemonis said. “He’s done that all year. He’s been really, really good and he’s got a bright future.”
Krupa was hitless in five prior trips to the plate before his game winner. He did just miss a homer in the bottom of the 9th, sending a shot just foul and well over the right field wall.
“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball, honestly, I had struggled all day,” Krupa said. “I saw a slider up and I just tried to slap it the other way.”
Both teams had spirited comebacks to take help take the game into extra innings. Indiana trailed 2-0 heading into the seventh after only earning two hits the opening six innings against Michigan lefty Oliver Jaskie. But Luke Miller began the seventh with a walk and Craig Dedelow clubbed his 17th homer of the season just two pitches later to tie it.
After Michigan regained the lead at 3-2 in the top of the eighth.
Indiana immediately responded in the bottom of the inning. Jeremy Houston got things rolling with a double to left field. He later tied the game on a force out by Matt Lloyd. Singles by Miller and Craig Dedelow followed, putting runners at the corners and Logan Sowers hit a single to score Miller and give Indiana its first lead at 4-3.
The Hoosiers were an out from winning this game in the ninth but Michael Brdar singled with two outs, moving Ako Thomas into scoring position. That brought up cleanup hitter Drew Lugbauer and on Matt Lloyd’s second pitch, Lugbauer lined a clean single to left, scoring Thomas.
Both of Michigan’s two early runs were scored in the second inning off Indiana starter Pauly Milto. He responded with three scoreless innings and B.J. Sabol replaced him to start the sixth inning.
Lloyd went 2 1/3 innings before giving way to Krueger.
“Both teams competed, fell behind, came back—-just a very resilient effort by our group,” Lemonis said.
Indiana won a number of series this year in the regular season after dropping the opening game.
“We’re almost better with our backs against the wall,” Krupa said. “We don’t give up and that says something about us.”
The extra innings won't help bullpen depth and Lemonis wasn’t ready to name a starter for tomorrow, but believes he has some good options remaining.
“We still got guys,” Lemonis said. “I still have Andrew Saalfrank (2-1, 5.77 ERA) who pitched a great game against Louisville last week. I have Brian Hobbie (2-5, 6.72 ERA), who has been a weekend starter all year. We definitely have options out there. We’ll match-up and see which ones work best.”