There was plenty of thunder to be heard Thursday night as IU played the Maryland Terrapins in game one of its final home weekend of the season.
Some of it was good for Hoosier fans, and some of it bad.
The Hoosiers fell behind early as Maryland senior centerfielder Zach Jancarski blasted a two-run home run over the left field fence to put the Terps up 2-0 in the top of the second inning. That would be the beginning of a rough start for junior pitcher Jonathan Stiever, as he would face adversity throughout his time on the mound and give up another run in the sixth inning.
The right-hander ended his day with three runs allowed on seven hits over six innings. He also struck out seven batters and walked four.
The Hoosiers chipped away at the Terrapin lead during the middle innings of the game, first with a solo shot from junior third baseman Luke Miller and then with an RBI single from senior rightfielder Logan Sowers, putting IU down 3-2 heading to the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Maryland tacked another run onto its lead via a sac fly from junior rightfielder Marty Costes.
Then, with two outs in the inning, there was thunder.
The teams were waved to their clubhouses and play would be delayed for just under two hours as players and fans alike waited for a storm to pass.
After returning to the field, IU had just one thing in mind — winning the game.
“It’s coming out of that locker room, just ‘Hey let’s win the last three innings at-bat by at-bat,'” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “You just had to get some guys on base and get the momentum going and we were able to do that.”
It appeared to be more of the same for the Hoosiers after the delay, as they gave up another run in the top of the eighth. However, they started to build momentum in the bottom of the inning.
Sophomore shortstop Jeremy Houston drew a walk, then junior centerfielder Logan Kaletha singled to right field, before junior utility player Matt Lloyd punched a hit through the right side for an RBI, making the score 5-3.
“Those pieces were huge because we almost had it the inning before,” Lemonis said. “We just felt like if we could get a rally going, we had a chance to do some damage, and luckily we were able to get the right guy at the plate.”
The right guy in this case happened to be Miller. After a pair of outs following Lloyd’s RBI, Miller stepped up to the plate. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Hoosier fans heard thunder again as a breaking pitch cracked off Miller’s bat and went over the fence in right field, giving the Hoosiers a 6-5 lead.
“I just saw that he threw it to Logan and Matt before me, so I thought I’d probably see the same thing, so I was sitting on it,” Miller said.
There’d be a short stoppage in play after the next at-bat as Marlyand junior right-hander John Murphy threw a pitch behind IU junior catcher Ryan Fineman. The dugouts cleared and Murphy was ejected from the game before play resumed.
In the top of the ninth, Lemonis called on Lloyd to move to the mound and close the game out. He walked the first batter of the inning, but got a strikeout, pop out, and a groundout to secure the Hoosier victory.
The win cements IU’s (35-15, 12-9) spot in the Big Ten Tournament as one of the top eight teams in the conference standings. The two teams will return to the field at 1 p.m. Friday for game two of the three-game series.