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Walk-off grand slam propels IU over South Alabama

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Then-freshman infielder Jeremy Houston, now a sophomore, is congratulated after returning to the Hoosier dugout after his first career home run on April 29. IU defeated No. 20 South Alabama 8-4 Sunday afternoon. Michael Williams Buy Photos

One spot IU baseball was uncertain about heading into the season was the leadoff role.

Junior Logan Kaletha put that uncertainty out the window Sunday afternoon.

With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth against No. 20 South Alabama, Kaletha swung at the first pitch and ripped it over the left field fence to give the Hoosiers their first walk-off win of the season, 8-4.

IU, which is now 2-1 on the season, fell behind early in the game. South Alabama jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning against sophomore pitcher Andrew Saalfrank. 

The Hoosiers jumped out to an early lead in their first two games against Oklahoma and Kansas State, but this time the tables were turned. IU was able to strike back quick, however, with a two-out rally in the second.

IU put together two hits, a walk and had the help of a fielding error by junior shortstop Brendan Donovan to score three unearned runs and tie the game.

The action slowed down after the second inning until the sixth, when a two-strike single from South Alabama gave them a 4-3 lead.

Heading into the eighth inning, IU’s hitters at 2-6 in the lineup had combined to go 1-for-14 with the one hit being an infield single from junior catcher Ryan Fineman. That changed, however, when junior infielder Luke Miller sent a home run to left field to tie the game with one out in the eighth. 

That all set the table for what became a perfect ninth inning for IU. After freshman Elijah Dunham got hit by a pitch to lead the inning off, a sacrifice bunt, two intentional walks and a double steal brought Kaletha up with the bases loaded.

That at-bat resulted in IU getting its first quality RPI win of the season in its third of four games at the Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach tournament. 

The double steal was also a highlight for the Hoosiers. It came as part of a total of eight steals in the game for IU. Coach Chris Lemonis noted before the start of the season that the Hoosiers would look to be aggressive on the bases this season.

IU will close out the four-game tournament Monday against the 2016 College World Series champion Coastal Carolina. 

Stefan Krajisnik

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