Senior outfielder Alex Krupa had come up to the plate five times.
In those five times up to bat, he failed to get a hit in all five of them. That was until the 13th inning when it was time for Krupa to deliver.
Krupa lined a hit down the left field line to give IU the 5-4 victory over Michigan Thursday to keep IU alive in the Big Ten Tournament.
Following a 5-4 loss to Minnesota Wednesday, the Hoosiers were facing elimination early in the Big Ten Tournament. Instead of succumbing to the pressure, IU remained resilient in the longest game in the history of the tournament.
“I think we’ve done it so much that they’re just used to it,” IU Coach Lemonis said. “They play a little bit better when there’s a little bit of pressure. The way it’s been, it just feels like it’s been like that all year long.”
The pressure was on for the Hoosiers in the 13th inning with the game tied at four.
After two Hoosiers got on base to start the inning, it appeared that the Hoosiers were going to squander an opportunity to win the game. Both junior outfielder Logan Sowers and freshman first baseman Matt Gorski struck out, failing to advance the runners, leaving the chance to win the game in extras in Krupa’s hands.
“I was just trying to put a bat on the ball, honestly,” Krupa said. “I struggled all day and I saw a slider up and I tried to just slap it the other way. Thankfully it happened.”
Lemonis said he was proud of Krupa because even after a tough game up that point, he was able to win the game for IU.
“That was about as bad a game you could have until he got the hit,” Lemonis said. “I mean that positively because a lot of kids, they tank at that point and can’t compete. He gets the biggest hit of the game.”
After playing from behind for most of the game, IU took its first lead after scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Freshman shortstop Jeremy Houston got the inning started for the Hoosiers with a double and he came around to score a groundout by senior infielder Matt Lloyd.
IU got the lead after hitting three consecutive singles, the third one by Sowers scored Craig senior outfielder Dedelow.
However, after Lloyd got two outs in the ninth inning, he blew the save opportunity, allowing a run, but he kept the game tied and the game proceeded to extra innings.
Following the blown save, IU responded to the difficult situation and won the game in extras.
The Hoosiers showed more resilience earlier in the game as Michigan’s starting pitcher Oliver Jaskie dominated the Hoosiers. Jaskie breezed through IU’s lineup early on retiring the first nine batters he faced. Through six innings, he only allowed two hits and gave up zero walks.
“He had a good mix with his off-speed (pitches),” Krupa said. “He threw the fastball away to us mostly. To our righties, dropping that changeup and especially to us lefties, buckling our knees with that slider.”
The lone blemish on his line came in the seventh inning.
To begin that inning, Jaskie walked sophomore infielder Luke Miller on four pitches. On the very next pitch, Dedelow lifted a home run to right field to tie the game at two.
Just like that, the Hoosiers were in the game.
Michigan regained the lead in the eighth inning, but after Lloyd gave up a run in the ninth, the Wolverines offense struggled to even muster runners. IU’s freshman pitcher Cal Krueger pitched the last three innings of the game, giving up only two hits and allowing the offense to win the game in the 13th.
The Hoosiers now move on to face the loser of the Minnesota versus Northwestern game Friday at 1:30 p.m
“We’re just trying to stay focused on that next game, which is another cliché,” Lemonis said.
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