Louisville’s Chris Dominguez knew he was going to see a fastball sail over the middle of the plate in Louisville’s 10-8 win.
His at-bat came after junior pitcher Chris Squires, one of IU’s most consistent closers, had walked a batter to start the ninth inning. The first pitch Dominguez saw was right at his knee and just over the plate – perfect for a game-changing home run.
Dominguez belted a shot to right field, becoming the second Cardinal to send a ball over the wall in the game. Louisville took advantage of a struggling midweek stable of pitchers for the entire game. Five Hoosiers took the mound against the Cardinals, none but sophomore pitcher Joey O’Gara lasting more than one and two-thirds innings.
“We gotta do this middle-of-the-week stuff,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “We gotta be sharper than that in the middle of the week on the bump.”
Louisville designated hitter Phil Wunderlich gave IU the most trouble. He accounted for most of his team’s runs with a six-RBI day. He began the game with a two-run shot of his own, which gave Louisville a 3-0 lead.
He might have had extra incentive, O’Gara said.
“He was the guy that got hit in the face last time we played them,” he said. “So maybe it was some sort of redemption thing.”
The right-hander’s hooking hit to right field seemed to channel Louisville’s 15-1 April 7 blowout of IU. Instead, the Hoosiers charged for an early lead with a six-run second inning. IU continued its dominance into the top of the sixth inning, where it carried an 8-3 lead.
O’Gara said he believed IU’s lead was safe.
“Once we had an 8-3 lead, I felt pretty comfortable,” O’Gara said. “The coaches have confidence in all of us, and this was just one of those days where a team sees the ball well.”
The one constant on the mound for IU was O’Gara, who settled in after allowing an early home run. He lasted six innings, allowing five earned runs and striking out one.
Smith brought a substitute from the bullpen when O’Gara began to tire and gave up two more runs in the sixth inning. His successors allowed seven hits and five runs while facing only 17 batters.
Sophomore first baseman Jerrud Sabourin said he expected Louisville to make a run but thought IU’s pitching core would deliver a bit more.
“They’re a good team, so we knew they could come back because they have great offense,” he said. “But we were expected to see the same performance out of our pitchers as we have been seeing.”
When the pitching faltered, so did the offense.
IU hitters had played inspired baseball in the game’s first four innings, causing Louisville to cut starting pitcher Matt Lea’s day short. He only lasted one and one-third innings.
The Hoosiers also forced Louisville pitcher Neil Holland into early retirement, posting six hits and three runs in his two and two-thirds innings. IU junior Josh Phegley and Sabourin accounted for two RBI and one run each. Junior Tyler Rogers also tallied two RBI.
The Louisville mound steadied after the fifth inning by three pitchers who didn’t allow IU to score a single run. The Hoosiers have seven batters hitting better than .300, but none could tally a run as their lead slipped away.
The runs placed the offense in a bind, Sabourin said.
“It put a lot of pressure on the offense because I don’t think we had scored for a while,” Sabourin said.
IU will play Indiana State at 4 p.m. today at Sembower Field.