9th Inning Rally Gives Indiana Baseball 5-4 Win, Series at Purdue

9th Inning Rally Gives Indiana Baseball 5-4 Win, Series at Purdue
9th Inning Rally Gives Indiana Baseball 5-4 Win, Series Victory at Purdue

A one of a kind ending gave Indiana a 5-4 win and a series over Purdue on Sunday at Alexander Field in West Lafayette, Ind.

Coach Jeff Mercer and the Hoosiers trailed 4-1 when the ninth inning began, but they didn’t back down. Singles from first baseman Brock Tibbitts and Carter Mathison gave Indiana runners on the corners with one out and forced a Purdue pitching change.

Purdue reliever Aaron Suval walked his first batter, Jake Stadler, to load the bases. He walked his second batter too, this time Andrew Wiggins, which cut Purdue’s lead to 4-2. Then Indiana right fielder Devin Taylor hit a hard ground ball of Suval’s leg. As he ricocheted all the way back to the first base line, Mathison scored and Taylor reached on an infield single.

Pyne struck out for the second out of the inning, but Suval walked Indiana’s Nick Mitchell in the next at-bat to tie the game at four runs a piece. It certainly was a crazy comeback, but what proved to be the game-winning play was even more unpredictable.

Indiana shortstop Tyler Cerny hit a soft, check-swing ground ball up the middle. But Suval couldn’t handle it, and the ball kicked toward a vacant patch of dirt between first and second base. Cerny reached safely on the error, and Wiggins came in to score the go-ahead run. Taylor tried to add another run for the Hoosiers, but he got caught in a rundown between home and third base for the third out. Still, Indiana did what it needed to do by taking a 5-4 lead.

Indiana third baseman Josh Pyne celebrates the win over Purdue.

Indiana Athletics

Indiana redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Jacob Vogel pitched well for three innings, but he needed a strong fourth frame in the bottom of the ninth against the heart of Purdue’s order to secure the win.

He induced groundouts by Purdue’s Luke Gaffney and Connor Caskenette, but Logan Sutter hit a ball high and deep to center field in the inning’s third at-bat. Mathison shuffled all the way back to the warning track, and he had a few feet to spare in front of the 408-foot wall to make the game-winning catch.

The 5-4 win gave Indiana the series victory over the in-state rival Boilermakers, perhaps the biggest single victory and series win of the season for Mercer and the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers improved to 27-19-1 on the season and 12-6 in Big Ten play.

That puts Indiana in a three-way tie with Nebraska and Purdue for second place in the Big Ten and just one game behind Illinois (13-5) for first place. Iowa is close behind at 13-8, and Michigan dropped to 11-7 after losing two out of three at Michigan State over the weekend.

Prior to the ninth inning rally, Ty Rybarczyk started the game on the mound for the Hoosiers and pitched 1.1 innings while allowing four hits, two runs, zero walks and a strikeout. Aydan Decker-Petty was first out of the bullpen, and he went 3.2 innings while allowing one hit, two runs, two batters hit by pitch, three walks and six strikeouts. Vogel got the win, pitching four shutout innings with two hits, one walk and one strikeout.

Taylor and Tibbitts led the Hoosiers with two hits apiece, while Taylor, Mitchell, Cal Sefcik and Wiggins were each credited with RBI.

Next up, the Hoosiers have a mid-week game at home against Cincinnati on Tuesday at 6 pm ET on BTN-plus, and they’ll travel to Nebraska for a three-game series beginning on Friday. Indiana then travels to Louisville for a midweek game on May 14 before returning home for its final regular season series of the year against Michigan, beginning May 16.

Related stories on Indiana baseball

Indiana Baseball Crushes Purdue Bullpen, Evens Series With 10-2 Win

Indiana Baseball Falls 7-4 in Series Opener at Purdue

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