For Logan Kaletha, the second time felt better than the first.
The IU junior outfielder already had one walk-off hit to his name, a game-winning grand slam against South Alabama on Feb. 18, prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Purdue Boilermakers at Bart Kaufman Field.
But with his two-run home run to left-center field in the bottom of the 13th inning, Kaletha was once again the cause for celebration for his IU teammates.
His fifth home run of the season gave IU a 7-5 victory against its in-state rival, as well as a 2-1 series win.
“That was probably one of the better team wins we’ve had so far,” Kaletha said. “Loved every second of it.”
It took a team effort for IU (22-6, 3-2) to win its first conference series of the season.
IU trailed 5-1 after Purdue recorded nine hits in the game’s first four innings.
A quick response by the Hoosiers on offense cut the deficit to just two runs, before IU’s pitchers found their groove on the mound.
Sophomore Cal Krueger and junior Matt Lloyd combined to pitch the final eight innings of the game, allowing just two hits to the Boilermakers during that period.
All five Boilermaker runs came when sophomore starting pitcher Cameron Beauchamp or freshman relief pitcher Connor Manous were in the game.
“Once we got to Cal there I thought Cal really slowed the game down for us,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “We were able to get back in the ballgame.”
The strong relief performance from Krueger came after he allowed two runs to Purdue in his lone inning of work in Friday’s loss. On Sunday, Krueger pitched three innings of no-hit baseball from the sixth to the eighth innings, giving the Hoosier offense time to tie the game.
The tying run came via a solo home run to right-center field with two outs in the seventh by sophomore infielder Scotty Bradley, who was the last player to give IU a walk-off win on March 18.
“I just went up the sitting fastball, just getting my swing off,” Bradley said. “Got a good piece of it. Got out, and just anything to help the team. Just what an unbelievable win it was.”
Bradley’s home run was the final scoring either team would do for the next six innings.
Lloyd was the IU pitcher for five of those six innings. It was the longest single-game pitching appearance of his IU career, but it wasn’t a completely foreign feeling for Lloyd, who was a starting pitcher during his time at Iowa Western Community College in 2015 and 2016.
“It was just kind of like going back to my roots in that sense,” Lloyd said. “I took it inning by inning. Just like any other outing, could have been 15 innings. I’m still going to give it my best and still compete just as hard.”
Key defensive stops in the IU infield also helped keep Purdue off the basepaths. Freshman infielder Justin Walker and sophomore infielder Jeremy Houston, both of whom have had issues with errors in recent times, came through with putouts for IU.
Houston entered the game in the ninth at shortstop, which moved Walker to second base. Both players made diving plays at their respective positons as the game continued into extra innings.
Purdue had a runner reach third base in the top of the 12th with two outs, but Houston was on hand to make a sliding stop to end the frame.
“It just fired me up,” Lloyd said. “I always have faith in him. Right off the bat, knew he was going to make the play.”
Lemonis said depth, both defensive, offensive and pitching, is one of IU’s biggest strengths to help the Hoosiers win games like Sunday’s.
“That’s the trademark of this group,” Lemonis said. “I think they all thought somebody was going to hit a home run, starting about the eighth inning and they were swinging for it. But somebody finally got it.”
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