Earley's Homer Caps Hoosier Comeback Win in Extras
April 10, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Michael Earley hit a go-ahead solo home run in the 10th inning to help Drew Leininger and the Hoosiers (15-14, 2-3 Big Ten) to a 6-4 comeback win in extras over Ohio State (18-9, 3-2) on Saturday. Leininger went nine innings, surrendering just four hits and two walks, with all four runs he allowed unearned. Chris Squires tossed a hitless 10th to earn his school-record 16th career save.
Earley and Micah Johnson each had three hits in the game, while Tyler Rogers added a pair of hits and scored two runs. Leininger was victimized by a messy defensive fourth inning, as two Hoosier errors set up the four-run frame. Eric Best collected the loss out of the bullpen after surrendering a pair of runs in 2 2/3 innings.
With the Hoosiers trailing 4-3 and two down in the top of the eighth, Rogers blasted a ball to center field that cleared Michael Stephens and one-hopped the wall to leave him standing on second base. Ethan Wilson followed with a walk to bring Dylan Swift to the plate, and Swift got jammed on a grounder back to pitcher Drew Rucinski. Rucinski, though, airmailed the throw to first, allowing Rogers to score to tie the game 4-4.
IU went 1-2-3 in the ninth and Ohio State followed in kind, as Leininger got a pair of strikeouts and a flyout to send the game to extras. Earley did not take his time, smashing the first pitch he saw over the wall in left center for his fifth longball of the season. Indiana added an insurance run on a Rogers triple and a Wilson single to make it 6-4.
Squires came on and got a groundball to first, but the ball took a big hop and Matt Streng was safe on the error. The senior got a groundout to first from the next hitter, and then Cory Kovanda shot a ball to the gap in right center, but Earley made a diving stab for the second out of the inning. Squires then struck out reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Dan Burkhart on three pitches for his fifth save of the year and the 16th of his career, topping the mark previously set by Chris Wilson (1997-00).
Early on, it looked as though IU would cruise, as the Hoosiers got one on an RBI single from Alex Dickerson to score Johnson and make it 1-0 in the first. In the third, Johnson had a leadoff double, moved to second on a sac bunt and scored on a sac fly from Jerrud Sabourin to make it 2-0. Dickerson later reached second on an error and came home on an Earley RBI single to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Leininger had surrendered just two baserunners - one on a hit and one on an errant third strike - through the first three innings of work. In the fourth, though, the Hoosiers committed a pair of huge errors to give OSU the lead. The leadoff man got on with an error by Sabourin at first, and Michael Stephens followed with a strikeout. Ryan Dew reached on an error on what otherwise would have been the third out of the inning to put two on with one out. Cory Rupert then hit a tailing flyball to shallow right, but Earley was unable to come up with the ball on a diving effort. Brian DeLucia then made IU pay by hitting the first pitch he saw over the center-field wall to give Indiana a 4-3 lead.
From then on, the sophomore southpaw was dominant, surrendering only a weak tapper down the line for an infield single to the leadoff man in the fifth. He lowered his conference-best ERA to 1.38 and his batting average against fell to a conference-leading .195.
Indiana will now take on Ohio State on Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium for a 1:05 first pitch in the rubber match of the series. The game will feature a live webcast on BigTenNetwork.com. Live audio and statistics are also available at IUHoosiers.com.
Check back soon