Resilient Hoosiers sweep Wildcats with 7-6 win #iubase

Indiana isn’t where it wants to be, but it is getting closer.

And wins like the one the Hoosiers pulled off Sunday bode well for their capacity to get there.

They withstood a Northwestern gut punch in the top of the seventh inning, shrugging off five Wildcat runs, including a go-ahead grand slam by cleanup hitter Joe Hoscheit. Then they swung back, plating two runs during an opportunistic bottom half and running off with a 7-6 victory at Bart Kaufman Field.

“We’re like a Rocky movie,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “We just keep getting punched and knocked down and we fight back. It’s kind of been the way we’ve played all year. It says a lot about our character when you come back and come back and come back. We’ve learned to play from behind and have success, which is exciting for the postseason.”

Although its path to a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance seems muddled — an RPI rating of No. 128 is problematic — Indiana (26-16, 11-4) is within striking distance of the conference crown.

IU enters the final month of the season only a half-game behind first-place Minnesota, with a crucial series in Minneapolis looming next weekend.

Sweeping a team like Northwestern (10-33, 2-16), a young program mired in the pits of the conference, is an important step forward for the Hoosiers.

And refusing to let a late rally overwhelm them revealed a strong streak of resiliency that this team can lean on down the stretch. The Hoosiers took all three games this weekend by one run, and have now won 11 one-run games this season.

“We’re talking about playing for the league,” Lemonis said. “Every time we come out here, there’s that pressure that we put on ourselves because we want to be in that situation to handle that pressure. We know what’s in front of us.”

Indiana led for much of the afternoon, taking a 5-1 lead into the seventh inning before its pitching staff suddenly — and collectively — lost its command and feel for the strike zone.

Thomas Belcher, one of the Big Ten’s top relievers, hit a pair of Wildcats to start the inning before Pauly Milto entered and walked the bases loaded. Milto then yielded an RBI single to Matt Hopfner before Hoscheit smacked his go-ahead grand slam over the left field wall.

“It went all the way off the rails,” Lemonis said of the seventh inning. “One of our best pitchers lost the zone and sometimes when that happens it’s tough to get back going.”

That was not the case Sunday.

After Logan Sowers drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the seventh, Ryan Fineman was hit by Northwestern’s Pete Hofman, who soon found himself in a bases-loaded situation with no outs.

The Wildcats were content to allow Sowers to score when Austin Cangelosi hit a would-be double play ball to short. Jack Dunn tossed to second baseman Willie Bourbon, who forced Pasteur out at second but then strangely short-armed the ball as he attempted to throw to first base. The ball rolled to the wall between home plate and the dugout, helping Fineman score the go-ahead run.

Craig Dedelow, Alex Krupa and Cangelosi, who scored the game’s first run in the second inning on a groundout by Luke Miller, each collected two hits. Scotty Bradley supplied a two-run single in the third, while Tony Butler supplied a run with a well-executed safety squeeze in the sixth. Krupa followed with an RBI single.

Jake Kelzer, who closed out the top half of the seventh without further damage, went the final two innings to earn the win.

“We’re competing and having fun,” Kelzer said.

Winless across his first 10 starts, Evan Bell was in line to pick up his first win of the year when he left the game with one out in the top of the sixth. It was a fine start for Bell, who at one point retired nine of 10 batters during a stretch midway through his outing.

But IU’s wild seventh inning prevented Bell from receiving that win Sunday.

“We’re winning when he’s pitching and that’s all that matters,” Lemonis said. “But I’d like to see him get that first win.”

His next chance to get it could come at a critical juncture next Sunday at Minnesota. To return to the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers would seem to need an automatic bid through the Big Ten Tournament championship later this month in Omaha. First, their sights are set on winning the regular season title.

Indiana isn’t there yet, but it is within reach.

“We need the wins right now for conference play and everything we’re trying to do,” Lemonis said.

5 comments

  1. Watching Charlotte play Miami. Cody can’t run or jump. It looks like a hip or quad injury. Sad to see him so hobbled and the idiotic announcers can’t see it! Meanwhile the baseball Hoosiers are NOT 11-14 in the B1G, but 11-4 or 12-4!

  2. Poor Cody…He’s “cruzing” through the NBA so much that he might as well call a basketball hoop a “ring.”

    Fact: He’s averaged around 7 points long before any supposed hip or quad issues. Banners, bitches….B-A-N-N-E-R-S.
    Stencil the Ferrari with “IRRELEVANT BUZZING HORNET JUST ZOOMED BY!”

    Long live D-Wade! The guy is playing like he’s in his mid-twenties again…Gotta give Crean credit…D-Wade is one stupendous talent. Who wouldn’t love him on their resume? Watching Wade silence the crowds who assumed his day was over is rather inspiring….Watch out, Cleveland…Wade and the HEAT are coming.

    We now return to our regular “Spring Interlude” programming…..

Comments are closed.