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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU clips BSU in extra innings

Baseball vs. Ball State

After battling for 15 innings and four and a half hours, junior center fielder Justin Cureton ended the game with a RBI walk-off single to right to give the Hoosiers the 6-5 victory against Ball State at Sembower Field.

“The sun was going down and visibility was getting much worse, but it was something that you had to fight through,” Cureton said. “It didn’t affect me, though. I was really locked in.”

Ball State’s catcher Kevin Franchetti drew first blood in the third inning with a solo home run off the left field foul pole to give the Cardinals the early 1-0 lead.

The Hoosiers responded in the bottom of the third when freshman catcher Kyle Schwarber pulled a double down the right field line to score Cureton, who reached on a walk, from second.

In the fourth inning, the Cardinals played some small-ball to regain the lead 2-1.

After Sean Godfrey singled with one out, the right fielder stole second base and advanced to third on a fly out to right to put Ball State in business with two outs. Third baseman Tim Issler followed by driving in Godfrey from third with an infield single in the hole to junior shortstop Michael Basil to put Ball State back on top.

IU pitcher Walker Stadler, who would pitch the 14th and 15th innings of the game, said infield singles are annoying for pitchers but aren’t as demoralizing as hard hit balls.

“Our pitching staff was getting ahead of hitters, which is the key to being effective,” Stadler said. “Infield singles aren’t the worst thing because that means they aren’t hitting the ball that hard, and it gives our fielders a chance to make a play.”

In the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals fell apart defensively as three wild pitches and two errors led to two IU runs.

Schwarber led the inning off with a full-count walk and moved to third base on two consecutive wild pitches with freshman first baseman Sam Travis at the plate.

Travis drove in Schwarber from third with a ground ball to Ball State shortstop T.J. Weir. Weir threw the ball away, which allowed Travis to reach first and later score on another wild pitch by starter Jacob Brewer.

IU Coach Tracy Smith said he was happy with his team’s aggressive base running but felt the offense could have done a better job with runners on base.

“We had guys in scoring position early in the game and just couldn’t find a way to get guys in,” Smith said. “Our aggressiveness really helped, especially when we couldn’t find a way to get a hit.”

The Cardinals used three consecutive singles through the left side of the infield off of senior pitcher Chad Martin to set up a bases-loaded, one-out rally in the top of the sixth inning, but Martin allowed only one run on a sacrifice fly to minimize the damage and keep the score tied, 3-3.

After recording the first two outs of the seventh, Martin ran into more trouble when Weir reached on a wild pitch after striking out. Weir moved to second on a Cody Campbell single and then scored after a passed ball and wild pitch from Martin to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.

The Hoosiers did not quit and scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to take the lead back from Ball State.

Junior Micah Johnson, who was pitch running for Dillon Dooney who walked, and Basil would score on a one-out RBI single by freshman outfielder Tim O’Conner. Basil was originally stopped by Smith at third, but Ball State’s left fielder bobbled the ball, which allowed Basil to score and give IU a 5-4 lead.

Another RBI infield single in the top of the eighth from Ball State tied the game at 5-5, but the Hoosiers managed to keep the game tied through the ninth to take it to extra innings.

In extras, junior Jonny Hoffman, sophomore Matt Dearden and Stadler combined to shut down the Cardinals and give IU a chance in the bottom of the 15th when Cureton delivered the win for IU.

Cureton said getting a victory feels good, especially in dramatic walk-off fashion.

“We’ve had those long type of games, but we had the perseverance and determination today to get the win,” Cureton said. “There was a lot of confidence in our dugout during that final inning.”

On the mound, six Hoosiers pitchers combined to strike out 19 Ball State batters during the game — the most IU has struck out in one game since 2007 against North Florida. Freshman starter Luke Harrison only allowed one run in his three innings, while senior Drew Leininger, Martin, Hoffman, Dearden and Stadler combined for the
final 12 innings.

With a three-game weekend series against the Illinois Fighting Illini coming up, Basil said a victory in an excruciatingly long game such as Wednesday’s was crucial for the team’s confidence.

“Game’s this long are ones that you need to get wins in,” Basil said. “To pull out a win in a game like this is crucial, and it will help our confidence going into this weekend.”

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