IU hitters roughed up Xavier’s starting pitcher Ben Thomas for 8 hits and 4 runs in 4.1 innings. Instead of sending Thomas to the dugout, he remained in the game in the DH spot. This would ultimately prove costly as Thomas, who had only 1 homerun on the year coming into this game, banged out a 3-run homer in the 9th to send the game to extra innings and a walk-off solo shot in the 11th. Squires pitched great in the first 8 innings, but struggled in the 9th walking the leadoff batter on 4 straight pitchers and giving up a single to put runners on the corners. Tracy Smith then pulled Squires after 115 pitches in favor of Matt Carr.
Although IU’s bullpen troubles have been well documented, Carr has been solid out of the pen this year coming into the game the third best ERA on the team at 4.40. In his first pitch of the game, however, Thomas took him deep to tie the game at 6 in the 9th with no outs. Carr then retired the next 8 batters to bring back up the lefthander Thomas in the bottom of the 11th with 2 outs. With LHP Marshall Gorham and RHP Joey O’Gara warming, Coach Smith decided to stick with Carr after a meeting at the mound. Ahead in the count at 1-2, Thomas took Carr deep for the second time in as many at bats to give Xavier the win in 11 innings. It is easy to say things could have been done differently looking back at the game from a pitching personnel standpoint, but IU disappointed with their bats in the 10th and 11th going 3 up, 3-down not giving any cushion for Carr to work with.
At the plate, IU banged out 14 hits led by Phegley with 4 (2 doubles). Dickerson, Earley, and Schutz each had 2 hits a piece and Sabourin scored 3 times. As a team, we struck out 10 times led by Crawford’s golden sombrero (4 K’s) in his first game back after sitting out the last 4. As has become customary with this IU team, we did have 2 errors, but fortunately neither allowed Xavier to score.
The good news...a new season starts on Friday! The Big Ten season. Forget about the 7-14 record thus far, the Hoosiers are still a huge conference threat and can turn it around this weekend with a big sweep of Minnesota at home. Go Hoosiers!