A walk-off home run in the 11th inning was the difference in the Hoosiers’ 7-6 loss to Xavier Wednesday in Cincinnati.
It is IU’s seventh defeat in eight games. The mid-week loss dropped the team’s record to 7-14.
“We didn’t execute a couple of pitches in key situations,” said IU coach Tracy Smith. “One of our goals this year was to win the Big Ten Championship and that is still well within our grasp. If we are going to have bad execution, I would rather have it happen now than before the Big Ten.”
Musketeer sophomore pitcher Ben Thomas hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning off IU sophomore pitcher Matt Carr to tie the game at six. Thomas contributed again in the 11th inning to earn Xavier the victory.
Carr picked up the loss after allowing two runs and three hits in 2 and 2/3 innings.
IU junior Chris Squires pitched effectively in eight innings and earned a no-decision. The Fort Wayne native gave up five runs while striking out four.
“I felt I did okay,” he said. “I was getting ahead of people, throwing a lot of strikes and getting a lot of ground balls. But I left two on base in the last inning that eventually scored. I could have done a better job closing it out.”
IU junior catcher Josh Phegley led the Hoosiers with four hits and added an RBI. Freshman designated hitter Alex Dickerson, sophomore outfielder Kipp Schutz and junior shortstop Tyler Rogers also drove in a run each.
IU junior infielder Michael Early, who had two RBI, said the team’s overall confidence is high as it enters conference play.
“We would rather go through it now, instead of in the Big Ten like we did last year,” Early said of the poor start. “We are just going through a little bit of a bad patch. Once the Big Ten starts we have to be playing better baseball.”
The Hoosiers open the Big Ten regular season 3 p.m. Friday at Sembower Field against Minnesota. The No. 25 Gophers boast a 13-6 record.
UM’s top hitter is sophomore Michael Kvasnicka, who is batting .462 and is on a 24-game hit streak that started last season.
“They are playing about as well as anybody in the conference,” Smith said. “They are pitching very well and are a solid baseball club. We are falling on some tough times right now, but we just have to stay positive.”