While his team was busy posting nine runs in a crucial fifth inning, Chris Lemonis’ message was simple.
Keep adding runs. Don’t stop now.
In a game that saw 39 combined hits and seven home runs, IU’s big fifth inning was the difference in a 13-12 win over Minnesota at Bart Kaufman Field.
“We know on a day like this you just gotta keep playing and adding on runs because no lead is safe,” the Indiana coach said.
After getting shut out Friday, IU (18-14-2, 5-5-1) made the most of its opportunities Saturday. The Hoosiers batted 10-for-20 with runners on base, 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position and 4-for-5 with runners on third with less than two outs.
They used the long ball, too.
Alex Krupa hit a solo shot in the first, Craig Dedelow socked a two-run homer in the third, Matt Lloyd highlighted the fifth-inning rally with a grand slam to centerfield and Matt Gorski followed Lloyd with a two-run blast that proved to be the difference.
Indiana now has 39 home runs on the year, surpassing last year’s season total of 36.
“We just got a lot of good at-bats, a lot of people on base,” Gorski said. “When you do that, you’re gonna get a lot of production out of people, so it was really nice to get that done today.”
IU, which trailed 8-4 entering the fifth, sent 12 men to the plate during the inning, using an RBI single from Tony Butler and an RBI infield single off the bat of Austin Cangelosi to begin the onslaught.
After Luke Miller took a pitch in the helmet with the bases loaded to force in Butler, Lloyd delivered his grand slam and Gorski followed with his two-run shot three batters later, slamming a fastball into the IU bullpen to put the Hoosiers ahead 13-8.
“It was really nice because I was supposed to bunt that at-bat,” Gorski said. “But you get up 2-0 and the coach trusts you enough to swing so it was really a nice pitch to hit.”
The Hoosiers were served well by following Lemonis’ orders for more and more runs, because Minnesota (22-8, 7-1) answered with four runs across the sixth and seventh innings.
With two outs in the sixth, Luke Pettersen clubbed the first pitch he saw from IU reliever B.J. Sabol for an RBI double. Micah Coffey added his own run-scoring double in the seventh before Matt Stemper and Jordan Kozicky supplied RBI singles off Austin Foote to close the Gophers’ deficit to one run.
But Indiana right-hander Cal Krueger used an inning-ending double play to escape the eighth and Lloyd made quick work of Minnesota in the ninth to earn his third save and seal the win for IU, which will go for the series win on Sunday at 1 p.m.
In addition to his .301 average at the plate this season, Lloyd is holding opposing hitters to a .250 average from the mound. He lowered his ERA to 2.16 on Saturday and continued to take steps toward making the closer’s role his own.
“It’s kind of his,” Lemonis said. “That’s what we’ve been doing lately. We haven’t had, really, the save opportunities the last couple games, but him and Foote have been out there at the end of games. He just pumps the zone and gives us a chance to win.”
Neither starter found traction Saturday. IU’s Brian Hobbie was tagged for eight runs on 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings, allowing all three of Minnesota’s home runs.
Indiana, meanwhile, chased Minnesota’s Brett Schulze with two outs in the third, an inning in which Dedelow smacked his two-run blast to tie the game at 4-all.
But the Hoosiers weren’t done there, much to Lemonis’ satisfaction.