It was throwback day in Bloomington at the baseball game Wednesday night, but the contest between No. 8 Indiana and Ball State was anything but an old-school pitching duel.
In a 14-inning battle that lasted five and a half hours and featured 14 different pitchers, the Hoosiers walked off in the bottom of the 14th to secure a 9-8 victory.
Indiana (28-6, 6-2 Big Ten) came into Wednesday’s game riding a seven-game winning streak and boasting the nation’s lowest ERA. Ball State (17-18, 5-7 MAC) raised that ERA as they became just the second team to score at least seven runs against Indiana this year.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Cardinals answered in the second with a solo home run off the bat of senior second baseman Seth Freed. Ball State blew the game wide open in the third, batting around and plating five runners to take a 6-1 lead. The inning was highlighted by a bases clearing triple from Freed, putting him on cycle watch.
Indiana had an immediate answer, scoring on three consecutive bases loaded walks in the bottom half to tighten things up 6-4.
Both starting pitchers were chased before the end of the third inning, meaning frequent calls to the bullpen were imminent. In fact, it wasn’t until the seventh inning that either team was able to pitch a routine 1-2-3 frame.
Ball State extended its lead in the fourth with another solo shot from redshirt senior outfielder Jeff Riedel, his third home run in the past week. Indiana continued to play the game of anything you can do I can do better, scoring two more runs in the bottom half to make it a one-run game.
The Hoosiers would tie the game in the sixth on a Wyatt Cross RBI single and take the lead in the seventh on a wild pitch. Ball State’s offense went cold after Riedel’s homer, but was able to manufacture a run in the eighth on sophomore Noah Powell’s game-tying RBI infield single.
The score would remain deadlocked at eight for the next five innings. With two runners on in the bottom of the 14th, Indiana’s Jeremy Houston drove in Laren Eustace from second to walk it off for the Hoosiers at the 5:34 minute mark.
Indiana’s Andrew Saalfrank picked up the win, striking out seven in three innings pitched. Ball State junior reliever TJ Harmon was the odd man out and was given the loss.
Junior catcher Chase Sebby went 3-for-4 at the plate for the Cardinals with a pair of walks and a sacrifice bunt, raising his already team-leading batting average and on-base percentage to .351 and .495, respectively. Freed ended up a double away from a cycle, which would have been the first for Ball State since Jeremy Hazelbaker in 2009.
The 14 innings were the most played by Ball State since 2012 when it fell 6-5 in 15 innings to Indiana.
In the end, a lack of clutch at-bats and walks on the mound led to Ball State’s downfall. The Cardinals struck out 21 times while leaving 12 runners stranded on base and gave out 16 free passes.
Ball State will be back in action Friday, April 20 at Bowling Green at 3:05 p.m.