LOUISVILLE, Ky. — IU Coach Chris Lemonis was quiet between the ninth and 10th innings of Tuesday night's game against Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium.
The Hoosiers were three outs away from victory in the bottom of the ninth, leading the Cardinals 3-1, when Louisville sophomore outfielder Ethan Stringer sent a game-tying, two-run home run over the left field wall in a pinch-hit appearance against sophomore pitcher Andrew Saalfrank.
The winning run advanced to third base for the Cardinals with two outs in the inning, but IU freshman pitcher Tommy Sommer entered the game and struck out junior infielder Devin Mann to force extra innings with the game tied 3-3.
The short break before the 10th allowed IU's players to refocus.
"You don't say much," Lemonis said. "They just went right out there and played."
While two of IU's first three batters were retired in the top of the 10th, the following five batters all reached base as part of a six-run frame, which powered the Hoosiers to a 9-5 victory.
Contributions were made in the inning by both new and veteran players — Freshman infielder Cole Barr gave IU the lead with a pinch-hit RBI single, junior outfielder Logan Kaletha forced a bad throw from the Louisville infield to score two runs and junior utility player Matt Lloyd crushed a three-run home run over the scoreboard beyond the right field fence.
"They feel like a million bucks tonight," Lemonis said. "Especially coming back after the ninth inning and playing against a great program."
IU has won six of its last seven meetings with Louisville, and Tuesday's victory marked the third-straight win for the Hoosiers after a season-high five-game losing streak.
In each of the three wins, the IU offense has recorded at least 10 hits, while the Hoosiers' starting pitcher has thrown at least five innings.
"I feel like we're on a roll now," Barr said. "I think we're a dangerous team right now, and it will be real interesting to see what happens. I think, just, we got over that hump. We had that rough stretch, but I think we got over that now."
Sophomore pitcher Cameron Beauchamp produced the second-longest outing of his career Tuesday. The left-handed pitcher allowed just three hits and one run over the course of 5.2 innings, while striking out five Cardinal batters.
However, it was the work of IU's relief pitchers that kept the Hoosiers in a position to win the game.
Saalfrank entered the game in a bases-loaded, two-out situation for Louisville in the bottom of the seventh. Just as Sommer would do two innings later, Saalfrank struck out Mann to end the scoring threat and keep the game tied.
"I thought Andrew was really good until those two pitches in the ninth," Lemonis said. "Maybe it's a learning process for him, so hopefully he'll be back out there this weekend.
Lemonis said he put Sommer in the game in the ninth after Saalfrank's breaking ball became ineffective. As a result, Sommer was able to use his changeup against Mann to strike him out and force a 10th inning.
While Sommer allowed a two-run home run to sophomore designated hitter Danny Oriente in the bottom of the 10th, the explosion of runs from IU in its half of the inning was enough to secure the victory.
"We have some resiliency," Lemonis said.
IU will take its three-game winning streak into its final conference series of the regular season. The Hoosiers will play three games against Maryland, starting Thursday night, at Bart Kaufman Field.
Ahead of this important end-of-season series, Lemonis said Lloyd was the only unavailable pitcher for IU against Louisville.
IU still needs to pick up wins to ensure its spot in the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. The Hoosiers are currently sixth in the conference standings, while the Terrapins are eighth. The top eight teams in the Big Ten qualify for the postseason tournament.
"Everyone is playing for something right now," Lemonis said. "I like where we're at. We're playing good, we're playing loose, we're playing good defense. I'm excited for the weekend."
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