Means Lifts Hoosiers to Walk-Off Victory
March 22, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - With the score tied 2-2 and his 12-game hitting streak on the line, junior centerfielder Andrew Means came to the plate and delivered a single through the left side of the infield to lift Indiana to a 3-2, walk-off victory over IPFW. Josh Phegley had three hits for the Hoosiers, who moved over .500 at 8-7 with the victory, winning their 2008 home opener. Matt Bashore struck out nine and allowed just five hits in eight innings for IU.
The Hoosiers entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 2-1 thanks in part to outstanding pitching from IPFW's Brandon Knowling, who threw seven innings and allowed just an unearned run. Freshman Tyler Reimer led off the inning with a single to left off of reliever Stacy Herrold and Reimer was promptly lifted for pinch-runner Trevor McConnell. Jerrud Sabourin then batted against Matt Antos and successfully sacrificed McConnell to second. Chris Hervey followed with a single to shallow left to move McConnell to third, and Tyler Rogers was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Tyler Cox came to the plate against another new pitcher, this one Chad Nielsen, and drew a 3-2 walk to drive in a run and keep the bases loaded for Means. The junior got ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a fastball through the left side of the infield to bring home Hervey and give the Hoosiers and acting coach Ty Neal the victory. Hoosier skipper Tracy Smith missed the game while serving the first contest of a two-game suspension imposed on him by the Big Ten Conference for his role in an incident that took place last week against Fresno State.
"This was a big victory for us to pick up," Neal said. "We came through in the clutch and we were happy to come away with a victory. [Knowling] was really good out there and we thought he would be, so our strategy was to get into the bullpen and we did just that."
The game was expected to be a pitcher's duel with a pair of starters boasting ERAs of under 2.00 entering the game. Knowling allowed just six hits and one walk in his seven-plus innings of work, but the biggest aspect of the game was his ability to work out of trouble. He induced four double plays in the game, the first three thwarting Hoosier rallies to end the first, second and fourth innings.
On the other side, Bashore was just as strong, but ran into some trouble with two outs in the third. Mark Carden earned a two-out walk and moved up 90 feet on a perfectly executed hit-and-run through the left side. Jared Davis then laced a single to center and Means came up to throw, but the ball ricocheted off his glove and there was no play at the plate as Carden scored to make it 1-0.
In the sixth, the Hoosiers mounted a strong rally, with Brad Henke drawing a leadoff walk and Cox reaching after being hit by a pitch. Means then dropped down a bunt and Knowling went to third, but the ball was mishandled by Jason Doerffler to load the bases with none out. Evan Crawford then came up for the Hoosiers and ripped a liner back through the box, but it was snared by second baseman Jimmy Gilliland, who stepped on second to double off Cox. Just when it seemed as though IU would come up empty, though, Phegley delivered a clutch hit with a single up the middle to bring home pinch-runner David Trager and knot the game at 1-1.
The Mastodons used small ball to regain the lead in the eighth. Scott Micinski led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sac bunt by Davis. Then Shaun VanDriessche ripped a single to center to bring Micinski around and make the score 2-1. Bashore finished the eighth trailing 2-1 and appeared to be in danger of picking up the loss until IU rallied in the ninth. Eric Arnett pitched the ninth, stranding a pair of runners on, to pick up his second win of the season.
The two teams will do battle again on Sunday at Sembower Field with first pitch set for 1 p.m. Tyler Tufts is slated to throw for the Hoosiers, while he is scheduled to face IPFW's Cole Uebelhor. Live stats and audio will be available on IUHoosiers.com.
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