Hoosiers sweep doubleheader against Northwestern #iubase

Tyler Lass was trying to pitch around Craig Dedelow, but the Hoosier outfielder swung anyway.

With the winning run waiting at third base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Dedelow’s choice to hack didn’t go over well in the Indiana dugout — at least not initially.

But after Dedelow turned a questionable decision into the signature moment of Indiana’s 4-3 walk-off win — and doubleheader sweep — over Northwestern, there was room for jocularity.

“I went from cussing at him to cheering for him,” Lemonis said with a smile.

That’s because Dedelow made the most of his dribbler to the right side of the infield. Given the stakes of the moment, with runners on the corners and the game on the line, Lemonis would’ve preferred a more nuanced approach. The first pitch from Lass arrived far outside the strike zone, making the Wildcat reliever’s intentions clear.

So when Dedelow swung at an off-speed pitch below his knees on the next offering, Lemonis was incredulous.

“I had walked back to the bat rack because I knew they were pitching around Dedes and he swung at a changeup in the dirt,” Lemonis said. “I was probably mad at Craig and then he ends up hitting the game-winner.”

Indeed, Dedelow hustled down the line as first baseman Zach Jones fielded the ball and made a hurried flip to Lass, who was covering the bag. It was a bang-bang play that never connected, as the ball popped in and out of the pitcher’s glove in a moment of panic. It allowed Tony Butler to score easily from third, give the Hoosiers (25-16, 10-4 Big Ten) a come-from-behind win that seemed unlikely only a couple innings earlier.

After edging Northwestern, 2-1, in the opener of Friday’s doubleheader, Indiana’s bats struggled to get anything going against Wildcats starter Joe Schindler, who retired 15 in a row midway through the nightcap.

Although, truthfully, the Hoosiers had an uneven day at the plate between both games, getting out-hit 10-5 in the first game before rallying late and producing five of their nine hits during the final two innings against the Wildcats (10-32, 2-15).

“We just weren’t great offensively today,” Lemonis said. “I don’t know why, but we played good defense and pitched. That’s usually our thing. They let us hang around and we had some good at-bats late.”

They sure did, starting with Brian Wilhite’s inside-the-park home run to lead off a game-tying, three-run eighth inning. Wilhite slapped a pitch down the right field line and took off, burying his chin in his chest as he rounded first. Third base coach Kyle Cheesebrough waved him through all the way, and Wilhite came around to spark IU’s offense at its moment of need.

“I think that relaxed everyone a little bit,” Wilhite said.

From there, Dedelow added an RBI double and Austin Cangelosi came a few feet shy of a grand slam moments later, settling instead for a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 3-3.

Until that inning, Friday’s nightcap was a bit of a struggle for IU, which couldn’t consistently mount offensive resistance as it watched starter Caleb Baragar labor more than usual.

Across his first 10 starts of the season, Baragar didn’t walk more than two batters. On Friday, he walked three, while scattering six hits and striking out seven.

Grant Peikert, Northwestern’s No. 9 hitter, collected RBI singles off of Baragar in the second and fourth innings, before Jack Claeys’ sacrifice fly off Jonathan Stiever produced the Wildcats’ third run of the night in the top of the eighth.

But by that point, the Hoosiers’ bats were ready to wake.

Earlier in the day, Kyle Hart won his Big Ten-leading ninth game of the season. The Indiana left-hander excelled in damage control, scattering nine hits across 6 2/3 innings, but avoiding the big inning all afternoon.

At one point, Hart struck out four consecutive batters, and while Northwestern was able to make consistent contact against him, each of those nine hits were singles. To boot, Northwestern’s lone run off Hart in the opener never should have crossed the plate.

A first-inning fielding miscue in left field was the culprit, allowing Jack Dunn to score easily from third when a two-out fly ball to left field fell between outfielders Alex Krupa and Dedelow, and Wilhite at shortstop.

“Nobody wanted it,” Lemonis said. “I had actually, about five seconds before the swing, moved Dedelow and Krupa deeper, so they’re taking steps back and the ball is in front of them, then they get a bad start and it fell in a dead area for them. We should have caught it.”

IU made up for the gaffe with station-to-station baseball in the bottom of the second. Cangelosi advanced to second on a bunt and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on Luke Miller’s single to right field. Miller stole second and scored on Butler’s base hit to left.

Indiana will go for the sweep this afternoon at 4 p.m.

“Winning against teams like this is a must for us right now,” Dedelow said. “That was big out there.”