Victory Field in Indianapolis was just that for the IU baseball team as it took down Ball State University on Tuesday for the second time this season, this time with a final score of 9-3.
The win came one week after IU, now 28-13 overall and 9-3 in the Big Ten, defeated Ball State 14-3 at Bart Kaufman Field, but it was a much more entertaining matchup the second time around.
Unlike the first battle, it was the Cardinals that jumped out to an early lead. Playing as the home team, Ball State attacked IU freshman starter Gabe Bierman with a run in the bottom half of each of the first three innings.
But it was only a matter of time until the IU offense, which averages more than nine runs per game, came to life. In the fourth inning, junior infielder Scotty Bradley got the Hoosiers on the board with a two-out single.
Then, it was time for IU to show off its power. As the nation’s top home run-hitting team, IU got its 72nd home run of the year when sophomore outfielder Elijah Dunham sent his fourth of the year to right field to tie the game at three apiece.
IU grabbed the lead by scoring a run for a third consecutive inning when freshman Grant Richardson singled with one out to score senior utility player Matt Lloyd in the sixth inning. Richardson continues to add to his strong freshman campaign as he now has 28 runs batted in this season.
Following the slow start, Bierman was able to settle in to finish with a line of five innings pitched while striking out six batters, which set a new career high.
IU’s bullpen shut down Ball State in relief of Bierman, highlighted by the outing of sophomore Connor Manous.
Manous struck out five batters in three scoreless innings while setting the table for Lloyd.
IU added five insurance runs in the ninth inning to give Lloyd some comfort as he looked to close out the game.
After striking out the first batter he saw and getting a 1-2 count on the next batter, Lloyd was taken out of the game with back tightness. Sophomore Braden Scott was able to finish out the inning and give IU the win, but in the meantime, IU will hope for Lloyd to miss minimal time as he is a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year.
IU will now get set to welcome Minnesota this weekend to Bart Kaufman Field for a crucial three-game series for the Big Ten standings.
The Hoosiers currently sit atop the conference with a 0.750 winning percentage while the Golden Gophers are fifth with a 0.583.