It’s safe to say that IU’s offensive lull Friday night did not carry into Saturday afternoon’s outing.
Following Friday’s 11-0 loss to Big Ten-leading Minnesota, now 21-9 overall and 7-1 in the conference, IU Coach Chris Lemonis said how a team comes out and plays the next day shows a lot about its character. His team certainly showed off its character in the Hoosiers’ 13-12 rebound victory over the Golden Gophers.
The teams combined for 39 hits just a day after combining for 22. Friday, 20 of those 22 hits came by Minnesota batsmen. Saturday, IU, now 18-14-2 and 5-5-1, raised its hit total from two on Friday to 18 and Minnesota countered with 21 hits.
The home runs came early and often in Saturday's game. For the second consecutive game, Minnesota junior center fielder Alex Boxwell hit a leadoff homer to put the Golden Gophers ahead early.
IU senior left fielder Alex Krupa was not about to be outdone though and homered to lead off the bottom of the first for the Hoosiers.
After not scoring in the opener, the Hoosiers found the long ball in game two of the series and launched four home runs. Minnesota added three homers of its own.
IU’s second jack came in the third inning, when senior center fielder Craig Dedelow hit a two-run homer to knot the game up at four runs apiece.
“Tonight our guys came out and competed and had some big hits there early and just kept fighting,” Lemonis said.
Minnesota refused to stay even for long as two Golden Gophers went yard in the top of the fourth. Senior right fielder Matt Stemper hit his second homer in as many games in Bloomington, a two-run shot that put his team ahead 6-4. Then, two batters later, freshman third baseman Jordan Kozicky hit the first home run of his college career, a two-run knock that doubled Minnesota’s lead to 8-4.
Kozicky went 5-5 with the home run, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
Chaos ensued in the bottom of the fifth inning when IU pushed across nine runs in the frame to gain its first lead of the series. The Hoosiers scored seven runs in the inning before Minnesota even recorded the first out.
Senior second baseman Tony Butler started the inning-long onslaught with an RBI single that knocked in freshman first baseman Matt Gorski. Senior infielder Austin Cangelosi entered the game to pinch hit for Krupa and delivered with an RBI infield single.
Sophomore third baseman Luke Miller was next and, with the bases already loaded, got hit in the head by the pitch. He would exchange words with the pitcher, catcher and first baseman on his way to first base, while sophomore catcher Ryan Fineman crossed the plate.
“Our mood right now is keep adding, keep adding,” Lemonis said with a smile. “On a day like this you have to keep playing and adding on runs because no lead is safe.”
Then sophomore designated hitter Matt Lloyd stepped to the plate and avenged Miller by hitting a grand slam to deep center field. But the Hoosiers weren’t done yet. Gorski would end up scoring for the second time in the inning when he hit a one-out, two-run homer that drove in Dedelow and gave IU its ninth run of the inning and 12th and 13th runs of the ballgame.
“It was really nice because I was supposed to bunt that at-bat, but then you get up 2-0 and the coach trusts you enough to just swing away, so it was really nice to get a pitch,” Gorski said about his home run. “We just got a lot of good at-bats, a lot of people on base, so when you do that you’re going to get a lot of production out of people. When you have 25 runs scored in a game, it’s really fun to play against a really good team and come out with a W.”
Lloyd later made yet another imprint on the game, pitching an immaculate ninth inning to earn the save, his third of the year, on just six pitches. His earned run average is now just 2.04.
IU and Minnesota, now with a lone Big Ten loss, meet again Sunday at Bart Kaufman Field for the series rubber match.
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