Houston’s single helps Hoosiers walk off winners in 14th inning

Twenty minutes shy of midnight, Jeremy Houston gave the Hoosiers what they were looking for.

Houston’s RBI single in the bottom of the 14th allowed No. 12 Indiana to walk off 9-8 winners in a marathon game against Ball State on Wednesday at Bart Kaufman Field.

In a contest that lasted five hours and 34 minutes, stretching the pitching and resolve of both sides, the Hoosiers found a way to win ugly.

“Five hours and 34 minutes?” Houston said. “That’s ridiculous.”

For much of the evening, IU (28-6) fought against three fatal flaws that tried to doom the Hoosiers against their latest in-state opponent — early-game pitching, situational hitting and baserunning.

Indiana stranded 20 runners on base, hit 4-for-25 with runners in scoring position and went merely 1-for-10 in bases loaded opportunities.

But IU’s luck changed late.

After Scotty Bradley drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the 14th, Laren Eustace entered as a pinch runner and took second on a single by Matt Gorski. Back-to-back strikeouts from Wyatt Cross and Justin Walker spelled trouble, but Houston was equipped to make a long night worthwhile.

The sophomores shortstop sent a 1-0 fastball over the middle into right field, allowing Eustace to score without trouble and extend IU’s winning streak to eight games.

The night ended much better than it started for the Hoosiers, who saw starter Connor Manous and reliever Brian Hobbie struggle through the first three innings.

Ball State took a 6-1 lead midway through the third, charging five runs to Hobbie in the top half of the inning. Most of the damage came via a bases-clearing triple from Seth Freed, who posted four RBIs and also hit a solo home run in the top of the second.

But to Indiana’s credit, it clawed back from its five-run deficit during the middle innings.
In the bottom half of the third, IU benefited from the Cardinals’ own pitching woes. Gorski, Cross and Walker each drew bases loaded walks to cut IU’s deficit to 6-4.

After Jeff Riedel’s solo home run off Kade Kryzsko made it a three-run Ball State lead in the top of the fourth, the Hoosiers tallied four straight runs to get in front.

It started with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, beginning with Logan Kaletha’s leadoff homer to right-centerfield. Gorski followed with an infield single that scored Logan Sowers.

Cross tied the game at 7-all in the sixth, punctuating a nice at-bat with an RBI single to left field. Jeremy Houston put the Hoosiers in front when he scored on a seventh-inning wild pitch.

The lead didn’t last long due to a little tough luck for the Hoosiers.

Back-to-back infield singles helped the Cardinals tie the game at 8-all in the eighth. Houston at shortstop and reliever Tommy Sommer in front of the mound each cleanly fielded balls hit to them, but had no play. The latter ball to Sommer took one big hop, floating long enough in the air to allow Ball State’s Colin Brockhouse to score.

Baserunning was another source of frustration for the Hoosiers.

A messy sequence in the bottom of the eighth led to Gorski getting tagged out at home. Gorski advanced to third base on a wild pitch, making it safely when the ball caromed off the base. Gorski hesitated before making the decision to charge home, where he was tagged out to end the inning.

Most concerning, it took the bat away from Kaletha, who was in the midst of safely reaching base in eight consecutive plate appearances dating to Tuesday night.

An inning later, Kaletha found himself tagged out on the back end of a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play. After Matt Lloyd struck out swinging, Kaletha was easily caught at second on a delayed steal.

IU drew 16 walks on the night, including five by Sowers.

As shaky as the pitching was early, IU’s bullpen settled in late. Grant Sloan, Cal Krueger and Saalfrank were excellent as the game stretched deep into the night.

Sloan struck out two and allowed one hit in two innings, Krueger struck out one in a clean 11th inning and Saalfrank locked in late to keep Ball State from scoring. Saalfrank struck out seven in his three innings of work.

8 comments

  1. Grant Sloan…? Son of former Hoosier Brian Sloan who just happened to be on the ’87 banner team….and grandson of the great Jerry Sloan(Hall of Fame NBA player who had a standout career with the Bulls..Maybe one of the hardest nose defenders the game has known).
    Now that’s are some damn strong sports DNA that young Grant is bringing on his spitball.

    Completely stunned that it passed everyone else by….Completely stunned the Journalists of Scoop never brought this to attention. Absolutely stunned. I saw the name Sloan and I instantly wondered …You don’t really hear that name too often. This is why you don’t hire Baltimore guys to write about Indiana.

  2. Winning college baseball team can be a fun spring -summer sport to watch. I wish it received more tv coverage. I think it still enjoys American College integrity. Also college track is fun to watch.

    1. I remember going to one of my daughter’s track meets and they actually had the pep band playing in the stands. That was a first for me.

  3. We attended the game, the weather was brutal from the strong win that was blowing through out the game. We didn’t stay until the game’s conclusion, we had cold weather coats, gloves but the wind and the wind chill was too much for us. The only positive other than the win was the I U Coaching Staff got a chance to see their young pitchers pitch in a tight game situation.

  4. Update, just received a tweet from a fan that stayed for the total 14 innings, he stated,” a total of 12 fans withstood the cold conditions and he couldn’t see the other eleven”. This Spring’s weather has really hurt the games attendance very few games with any spring like weather for the team or the fans.

  5. FIRST NO-HITTER OF 2018 goes to Sean Manaea of NW Indiana!!

    The bats of the “hottest bats” in 2018, the Boston Red Sox, became as cold as the miserable cold weather of our “northern” state so unfavorable for baseball…And if it’s unfavorable in Bloomington, just think how unfavorable it is in Valparaiso(200 miles to the north) as those blustery winds of winter’s last bite come down from the frozen tundra of Canada to put a real hurt on summer’s greatest pastime.
    Put on your thermals, we’re heading out to the diamond!

    So let’s give an even bigger shout-out to Sean Manaea of Valparaiso(In) tonight! For those more familiar with Chesterton, Valparaiso is only 7 miles to its south.
    Cold climate in spring and fall….? No decent baseball talent in the “northern climate states”…?
    (Note: I won’t use “Mason-Dixon line” as a designation because the term was more used as a cultural reference while forming an imaginary divide between free vs. slavery states…But that designation wasn’t even really true because Delaware was north of the M-D line and allowed slavery until 1865. Indiana was never a slavery state..nor waited for a 13th Amendment to abolish it).
    Anyway…Shout-out again to Sean Manaea(Oakland A’s) from Valparaiso(attend ISU) for his no-hitter against the Red Sox.
    Great athletes abound in this tiny state!

    Manaea’s father, Faaloloi, settled in Indiana after leaving American Samoa. He worked for the Inland Steel Company following service in the Vietnam War. His mother, Opal, is a factory worker(courtesy: Wikipedia)

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