The ball sailed into right field in the top of the 11th inning, and Indiana’s third base coach waved junior catcher Matthew Ellis around the bag. If he were safe, Indiana would have the lead in a tense extra-inning matchup against Big Ten top-seeded and No. 10 nationally-ranked Maryland.
However, Terrapin junior outfielder Troy Schreffler remained composed, cleanly fielding the one-hopper and throwing a dart back to home plate, and Ellis was narrowly tagged out. The game remained tied before Maryland walked it off 6-5 in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Indiana was handed its third walk-off loss this season in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament Thursday evening. The more-than-four-hour game shifted back-and-forth throughout the contest.
Hoosier left-handed starter junior Ty Bothwell held Maryland to one run across the first three innings but was challenged in the fourth. The Terrapins hit four doubles and scored three runs to take a 4-0 lead. Maryland finished the game with a tournament-record nine doubles, despite striking out 18 times at the hands of Indiana’s pitching staff, also a tournament record.
Up until the sixth inning, it was smooth sailing for Maryland starter sophomore Jason Savacool, who used an effective breaking pitch to keep Indiana's hitters off balance. From the first through the fifth inning, the right-hander retired 13 consecutive Hoosiers. Indiana had only one base runner during that span.
The tide began to shift in the sixth inning. Back-to-back singles from Indiana's last two hitters in the lineup eventually led to a run following a fielding error. Through five innings, Indiana only had one hit. However, the Hoosiers had five hits off Savacool in the sixth and seventh inning combined.
Indiana freshman Carter Mathison led off the seventh inning with a solo home run, his 18th of the year, to cut Maryland's lead in half, 4-2. Savacool then balked, an illegal move that allowed Ellis to score from third base. Leadoff hitter senior infielder Phillip Glasser knocked in graduate infielder Tyler Doanes to tie the game 4-4 with a single.
Indiana took its first lead of the game, 5-4, in the top of the 10th inning after Hunter Jessee hit a rocket toward first base, and Evan Goforth beat the throw home. Maryland first baseman Maxwell Costes elected for the tag play at home, but Goforth slid in safely headfirst.
Indiana's dugout erupted, but Maryland answered their excitement. After allowing a leadoff double in the bottom of the 10th inning, Indiana sophomore right-handed reliever Reese Sharp exited the game, throwing five and one thirds scoreless relief innings with nine strikeouts.
The Hoosiers went all in for the victory, bringing in their typical series opener starter, right-handed pitcher Jack Perkins. The junior immediately allowed a game-tying single, the only run charged towards Sharp's earned run average. However, Perkins escaped the inning without allowing another run to send it to the 11th.
Indiana threatened to score the go-ahead run with one out and runners on first and second base with Doanes coming up to the plate. Following Doanes’ single, the decision to wave Ellis home was risky. If Ellis were to be held at third base, the Hoosiers would have the bases loaded with one out.
After Ellis was tagged, there were two outs with only one runner in scoring position instead of two. Indiana came up empty, finishing the game batting 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Maryland loaded the bases in the bottom of the eleventh inning, and, despite Perkins getting a strikeout for the first out, he hit the next batter, sending the Terrapin runner trotting home in the 6-5 walk-off defeat.
With the loss, Indiana is 0-4 against top-10 opponents this season. The Hoosiers enter the losers’ bracket and play Illinois in an elimination game Friday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m. CT, airing on the Big Ten Network.