Cardinals clip Hoosiers in extras, 8-7

It started with a throwing error.

Then a stolen base, a wild pitch and a mental lapse brought Louisville’s Tyler Fitzgerald home.

Fitzgerald ended a long night at the ballpark in the top of the 12th, scoring on a fielder’s choice to lift the No. 10 Cardinals to an 8-7 victory over Indiana in Tuesday’s non-conference showdown at Bart Kaufman Field.

In a sloppy game that took more than four hours to complete, the Hoosiers worked their way out of a six-run deficit only to come undone in extra innings. IU gifted Louisville the winning run in the 12th, putting Fitzgerald on base when closer Matt Lloyd errantly threw wide of first base after fielding a comebacker to start the frame. After the error, Fitzgerald stole second on a dropped throw to the bag, then took third on a wild pitch.

With runners on first and third and no outs, a mental error by IU first baseman Cade Bunnell allowed Fitzgerald to score. As Bunnell fielded a grounder, Fitzgerald took off for home — but rather than immediately fire a throw to the plate, Bunnell turned and looked to second base before going home. That hesitation was enough to allow Fitzgerald to beat the throw and put the Cardinals on top.

Consider it a missed opportunity for Indiana, which entered the final midweek game of the regular season trying to seize on the momentum generated from last weekend’s series win at Michigan. Louisville, ranked eighth in the RPI entering Tuesday’s game, represented a chance for IU to add another quality win to its postseason resume.

Instead, the Hoosiers (33-19) fell in frustrating fashion.

They struck out 23 times, they were out-hit 13-7 and they played from behind until plating two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7. Even then, Indiana got some help.

A fielding error and a five-pitch walk put two on for IU, which used an RBI single by Cole Barr to get within 7-6. Moments later, Louisville third baseman Alex Binelas chose to catch a foul ball while retreating up the left field line with a runner on third. As soon as Binelas caught the ball with his back to the infield, Elijah Dunham tagged and sprinted home for the tying run.

IU spent its evening gradually chipping away at the early advantage built by Louisville, which led 6-0 by the middle of the fourth. The Cardinals dinked and dunked their way onto the scoreboard in the top of the second, collecting four singles — none of them hit hard — and capitalizing on a fielder’s choice to take a 2-0 lead against IU starter Gabe Bierman.

With Indiana reliever Tommy Sommer on the mound for the third, Binelas put a good swing on a 3-2 pitch over the plate, powering it deep to right for a three-run homer. In the fourth, Bloomington South product Alex Franklin secured two quick outs before yielding consecutive singles, followed by back-to-back walks to force in a run.

From top to bottom, the fourth inning took 57 minutes to complete. That’s because Indiana scored five runs, while sending 11 men to the plate in the bottom half. A leadoff triple by Gorski, followed by back-to-back doubles by Matt Lloyd and Dunham started the rally. Then, Dunham scored on the third wild pitch of the inning by Louisville starter Jack Perkins. A pair of bases loaded walks worked by Gorski and Wyatt Cross capped the inning and got IU within 6-5.

Louisville tacked on another run in the top of the seventh after Binelas led off the inning with a single through the middle. Binelas took second on a passed ball and scored on a single to center by Danny Oriente to make it a 7-5 lead.

Indiana, of course, had an answer in the bottom half.

In the ninth, the Hoosiers seemed to have a rally unfolding when Gorski worked a leadoff walk. But after stealing second with two outs, Gorski was thrown out at third while trying to advance on an overthrow. Gorski appeared to start his slide a hair too early and was tagged out on a bang-bang play at the bag.

For Indiana, a frustrating night was far from over.

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