LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It's a tied game, top of the 10th inning, with two outs, and runners on first and second base.
This was the situation freshman infielder Cole Barr faced when IU Coach Chris Lemonis called on him to pinch hit late in Tuesday’s game against the Louisville Cardinals.
“It's just what everyone dreams for,” Barr said. “It doesn't get any better than that.”
Barr stepped up to the plate and, in what has become a recurring theme for IU this season, a freshman came through in a big spot by driving in the go-ahead run.
This is nothing new for the Hoosiers. Despite being a deep team filled with veteran players, the freshman class’ fingerprints can be found on this team’s successes throughout the entire season.
“It's a really talented class, and most years, probably a lot of them would be starting,” Lemonis said. “We had a lot of guys come back, so they're having to play in some roles, but they've done a really good job.”
Over the course of the season, the freshmen have taken turns playing well. Infielder Elijah Dunham was a productive batter early in the season, infielder Justin Walker had a strong stretch around the beginning of conference play and infielder Drew Ashley has been a consistent contributor for IU over the last couple of weeks.
Tuesday night saw a few freshmen come up big for the Hoosiers.
Barr's RBI was big, but he may not have gotten the chance if it hadn't been for Ashley. In the bottom of the 9th, the freshman made a diving play to make the second out of the inning and keep the winning run for Louisville at third base.
After Ashley made that big play, Lemonis called freshman pitcher Tommy Sommer in from the bullpen to get the final out of the inning, with the winning run just 90 feet away from scoring. He did just that, getting a strikeout to send the game to extra innings. After Indiana’s offensive outburst in the top of the 10th, Sommer returned to the mound, shutting the door on Louisville, after giving up a pair of runs, to earn his second win of the season.
The early success bodes well for the future of this tight-knit group.
“We're all really close,” Barr said. “We all love each other. We've been working together since the summer of last year, I think we just work hard.”
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