Survive and advance. That was the goal for the IU baseball team entering Sunday afternoon’s NCAA Tournament elimination game with the Texas A&M Aggies.
It was a goal the Hoosiers accomplished.
The Hoosiers defeated the Aggies 9-7 to keep their season alive and advance in the Austin regional.
The win came after an offensive outburst gave IU a big early lead, one they managed to maintain as Texas A&M clawed its way back into the game.
In the top of the first inning, each of IU's first five batters reached base, including RBI singles from junior infielder Luke Miller, sophomore outfielder Matt Gorski and senior outfielder Logan Sowers to make the score 3-0.
Following the single from Sowers, junior catcher Ryan Fineman drove in IU’s fourth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field. In the next at-bat, sophomore infielder Scotty Bradley drove a pitch over the right field fence to extend the Hoosier lead to 6-0.
Junior utility player Matt Lloyd capped the inning with a home run of his own, a three-run shot over the fence in left center field to give the Hoosiers a 9-0 lead.
From that point on, it was all Texas A&M at the plate.
The Aggies answered in the bottom of the first with a pair of runs on ground-rule double by sophomore infielder Chris Andritsos. They added another run in the bottom of the second when junior infielder George Janca drove in a run with a single to right field.
Texas A&M wouldn’t score again until the fifth, when junior infielder Michael Helman recorded an RBI double to left center and Andritsos brought Helman in to score with a sacrifice fly, making the score 9-5.
After that sequence, IU Coach Chris Lemonis went to his bullpen, pulling sophomore starting pitcher Cameron Beauchamp from the game. Beauchamp's final line included five earned runs allowed on 10 hits. He also struck out three hitters and walked one.
Junior pitcher Tim Herrin was the first man out of the bullpen for IU. Over his three innings of work, he gave up just four hits, striking out two batters and giving up one run.
Lloyd moved from first base to the pitching mound with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, escaping a run-scoring situation for Texas A&M in that inning before getting caught in another one in the game's final inning.
Trailing 9-6 with their backs against the wall, the Aggies put together a trio of singles to score a run, making the score 9-7. With runners on first and second base and the winning run at the plate for the Aggies, Lloyd induced a double play to end the game.
The win comes just two days after IU lost to the Aggies 10-3 in the opening game of regional play.
Following the win, the Hoosiers will face regional host Texas at 9 p.m. Sunday night, with a regional championship on the line for the Longhorns.
A Texas win eliminates IU and allows the Longhorns to advance to the super regionals.
If the Hoosiers win, it will force a winner-takes-all regional championship game tomorrow between the teams.