IU was staring its fifth straight loss right in the face — something the program hadn’t done since 2011. Down two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, it was going to take something special.
Two hits, two Notre Dame errors and a little bit of luck later, IU was dog piling on freshman Isaiah Pasteur after he reached base following an error — the error that allowed Nolden, a senior from Indianapolis, to score the game-winning run.
The 6-5 Hoosier win came at Victory Field in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis Indians, in front of 8,728 fans.
“Growing up in Indianapolis, I came here a lot,” Nolden said. “I was talking to guys, how I used to come watch Andrew McCutchen all the time. He was a fun guy to watch. (To score the winning run) is pretty special, the crowd was amazing tonight. I had a lot of family and friends here.”
The win is IU’s first against Notre Dame since 1989.
“That was pretty crazy,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “You need a little bit of that to get you going. We’ve been in a little bit of a funk, so hopefully we can build off that. We just competed.”
After an attempted double play that would have ended the game was misplayed, senior Scott Donley decided to take off to attempt to tie the game at five.
“I took a look up, and the kid was going for the scoop,” Donley said. “I saw the ball kick away and I was like, ‘I gotta get in there.’”
Lemonis stood in the dugout hoping Donley would make it in safely. He made it, and the packed stadium went nuts.
“I thought it was unbelievable tonight how our fans and their fans supported (the game),” Lemonis said. “We needed to get in the win column and play good and feel good. These guys work too hard. A four-game losing streak feels like an eternity to this program which isn’t used to losing a lot.”
Both the IU players and coaches took notice to the publicity the game was ?getting.
“We had heard they were selling tickets and selling tickets so it built up,” Lemonis said. “Our guys were fired up. Baseball in this area is awesome. It’s just really growing and exciting in ?college baseball.
Notre Dame is having a great season, and we have a great program. To fill a stadium like this — not many teams in the country are ?doing it.”
Junior Evan Bell got the start for the Hoosiers. He pitched 4.2 innings, giving up three runs — two earned — on four hits. He struck out five and walked none. He was followed by junior Scott Effross, then seniors Luke Harrison and Ryan Halstead, who picked up ?the win.
Bell worked past a tough first inning in which he gave up three runs, while the IU lineup cut back on the strikeouts that had been haunting them.
“We’ve been going through a funk in the past couple weeks, and I think our biggest problem was striking out,” Donley said. “I think this game ?showed — we started to grind out more at-bats, and good things happened.”
With the victory, IU improved to 22-15 overall, while staying at 5-8 in Big Ten play. Michigan State comes to Bloomington this weekend for a three-game series.
“We could’ve put our heads down and pouted and blamed something,” Donley said. “But we grinded out at-bats and did everything the right way.”