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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

9th-inning home run drives No. 8 Louisville past IU

baseball

The IU baseball team looked like it was headed to a big victory against a top-10 Louisville team, but once again, the Cardinals came up big when it counted the most Tuesday at Sembower Field.

This time, though, the damage happened a little later.

Louisville’s (21-3) Andrew Clark hit a two-out pitch from IU (12-11) sophomore Drew Leininger just over a leaping senior right fielder Michael Earley for a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning.

The home run ended Leininger’s scoreless streak at 28.2 innings and gave IU a 5-4 loss.

“I thought I had it,” a dejected Earley said of the ball that landed just in front of the scoreboard. “I just went up, and it fell probably six inches too far over the fence. They played a good game, we played a good game and it was decided by a matter of inches.”

Clark actually committed an error in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Cardinals at first base. The Louisville senior, hailing from New Palestine, Ind., bobbled a ball hit by sophomore designated hitter Josh Lyon, allowing junior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin to score from second base. Clark’s deep ball, though, made up for it.

“Anytime a guy hits a home run, you feel like you made a mistake,” Leininger said. “It was supposed to be an outside curveball, but it hung on his belt inside enough so he could get his hands on it.”

The game marked the first time Leininger had pitched for the Hoosiers since March 20 against Akron, a game he left early with a sore knee.

The result was a strained MCL, and it forced him out of the Hoosier lineup for almost a week and a half — a critical loss for the already short-staffed Hoosiers, as his ERA was a Big Ten-best 0.79 coming into Wednesday’s game.

Leininger’s appearance wasn’t a start — sophomore Matt Igel pitched first for IU — but his return, outside of the home run, was effective. He pitched 3 innings for the Hoosiers and surrendered just 2 hits with 2 strikeouts.

“It felt good,” Leininger said of his knee. “Once you get going, you don’t really notice it with the adrenaline and all. I was driving off my back foot like I wanted to.”

Leininger’s new ERA is still best in the Big Ten at 1.22, though his record fell to 3-1.

Wednesday’s game marked the second time this season Louisville stormed back late to steal a win from the Hoosiers. In the first outing on March 9, Cardinals third baseman Phil Wunderlich hit a home run to tie the game in the eighth inning, helping Louisville to a 9-7 win.

IU coach Tracy Smith, while not pleased about the loss, thought his team came ready to play.

“You know, we left the ball up and they took advantage of it,” Smith said. “I really can’t fault them. I don’t think it was a result of anything we didn’t do, it was just that they did it.”

Tuesday’s loss had a different feeling for the Hoosiers after last week’s contests plated 32 runs.

The Hoosiers continue their home stand and start conference play Friday when Michigan comes to Sembower Field for the first of a three-game weekend series, and Smith said pitching will be a key determinant to their success.

“If we can get that type of competitiveness, that type of grit on the mound, and to some extent that style of execution, then we give ourselves a chance to win,” Smith said.

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