A botched fielding of a potential double play ball followed by a wild pitch helped NC State break a 12th inning tie tonight and defeat Indiana. A later insurance run in the inning then helped secure a 7-6 win in the opening night 2/3 seed game in Lexington Regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
After Garrett Suggs opened the 12th with a looping single to center off Matt Lloyd, leadoff hitter Stephen Pitarra hit a high bouncer near the bag at second. Indiana shortstop Jeremy Houston actually put his foot on the bag to aid in getting a potential double play but his stab at the ball came up empty. That put runners at the corners and one out later Suggs came home with the lead run off a Lloyd wild pitch that went through the legs of catcher Ryan Fineman.
“Our shortstop made an aggressive play, went for it and kind of got caught in between the hop,’ Indiana coach Chris Lemonis said. “One of the best shortstops I have ever coached.”
NC State added a needed insurance run a batter later when Brad Debo singled to left to score Pitarra. The damage could have been worse but Debo was thrown out at home later after trying to score on a double to left by Joe Dunand.
Tommy DeJuneas then retired the first two Hoosiers in the bottom of the 12th. After a walk to Luke Miller, NC State went to senior left hander Sean Adler to face lefty Craig Dedelow. The strategy backfired as Dedelow flared an opposite field triple to score Miller. But Adler then got Logan Sowers to chase a off speed pitch for a third strike and the win.
Indiana will now face No. 4 seed Ohio in an elimination game that begins at noon on Saturday. The MAC champ fell to host Kentucky in the early game, 6-4. The winner will move on to another elimination game on Sunday afternoon against the loser of the Kentucky-NC State game scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.
"It was the most identical game I have seen in a long time," NC State head coach Elliott Avent said. "We were fortunate in the end there to make a couple plays."
Indiana was five outs from a victory when in the top of the eighth Dunand sent a B.J. Sabo pitch well over the stands in left field to tie the game at 5-5.
The nephew of famous major league Alex Rodriguez, Dunand quickly realized it was gone.
"I knew I got it pretty good," Dunand said. "I was just looking for a ball over the plate, something I could drive, and I did just that."
The Hoosiers also had a couple two-run leads early. A 4-2 lead was erased when Will Wilson knocked a two-run homer off starter Pauly Milto in the fourth.
Outside of that mistake to Wilson, it wasn’t a bad outing for Milto. The right-hander was lifted after six innings, but not before a career high ninth strikeout to end that inning. He tossed 96 pitches, giving up four runs on seven hits and did not give up a walk.
“My slider is my difference maker,” Milto said. “When I’m locating that, staying low and away, that is when I am having most of my success.”
Indiana jumped all over NC State starter Johnny Piedmonte. Tony Butler, Matt Lloyd and Luke Miller all clubbed doubles off the wall to begin the game. Coming in at 7-0 with just a 1.87 ERA, Piedmonte ended up giving up three runs and his troubles led head coach Elliott Avent to pull him after just 16 pitches, bringing in left hander Cody Beckman.
Indiana broke the 4-all tie in the bottom of the fifth. Luke Miller had a one out ground single up middle off Joe O’Donnell. Then after Craig Dedelow struck out, Logan Sowers lined a ball inches inside the left field line for a double, scoring Miller to put Hoosiers back on top by a run.
It was a good night for Sowers. He had two hits and two walks in his first four at bats, a stark contrast to his 1-for-15 week at the Big Ten tournament.
“It (the loss) puts us in a tough spot but we’ll bounce back tomorrow,” Sowers said.
Indiana will go with Jonathan Stiever on the mound tomorrow for the noon contest. The right hander is 3-4 with a 4.51 ERA.
"They're used to playing like this and it hasn't been easy for this team all year long," Lemonis said. "They're going to have a quick night, a little nap and then we'll get up and play baseball."