Junior second baseman Tony Butler attempted to bunt twice to move the runner over from first with no outs in the top of the 10th inning Sunday.
He couldn’t successfully lay one down, so he decided to send a walk-off, two-run home run beyond the left field fence into the Hoosier bullpen in a 5-3 win against Indiana State.
“I wish I would have got the bunt down first, but I guess I’ll take that,” Butler said. “Especially after not getting the bunt down, I was hoping to get a hit and move over Wilhite, but I got a good pitch and put a good enough swing on it.”
Sophomore outfielder Logan Sowers also hit two home runs to tie the game in the fourth and sixth inning before the walk-off in extras.
IU knocked out four home runs in the series with the first being a grand slam from senior shortstop Brian Wilhite on Friday. The senior captain has led the Hoosier offense with a 10-game hitting streak as IU has won its last three series.
The bullpen played a large role throughout the series, something the Hoosiers aren’t accustomed to seeing, as they watched a few of the starting pitchers struggle on the hill.
Senior pitcher Kyle Hart was only able to work through five innings Friday, allowing a season-high five runs in his shortest outing since the first game of the season. The Hoosiers quickly grabbed the lead as Hart was pulled from the game, allowing the bullpen to toss the final four shutout frames to secure the victory.
On Saturday, the Hoosiers struggled to give senior pitcher Evan Bell run support once again, earning an average run support of 1.8 runs per game in each of his starts. Bell tossed six strong innings allowing one run.
Sophomore infielder Isaiah Pasteur ultimately broke the 1-0 deficit with a pinch-hit RBI triple in the seventh, but a costly error in the eighth lead to multiple runs for the Sycamores as IU dropped game two 5-1.
“He knows he pitches well,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said about Bell. “You would like to play a little bit better behind him, especially offensively.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Thomas Belcher entered the game in relief for senior starting pitcher Caleb Baragar on Sunday in a 3-3 ball game with runners on second and third in the seventh inning. Belcher navigated his way through 3.2 perfect innings on the mound, earning the win after the Butler walk-off.
“He’s been really good lately,” Lemonis said. “He had a rough two weeks so his numbers don’t always look as good, but over the last month he’s as hot as a guy that we’ve got.”
A tough break for the Hoosiers happened Saturday when junior first baseman Austin Cangelosi left the game in the sixth inning after being stepped on while covering first base on a ground out. The base runner caught Cangelosi around the ankle forcing him to be helped off the field and was put on crutches postgame. Lemonis said Cangelosi will go to the doctor Monday to be evaluated.
The schedule starts to bulk up now for IU with two mid-week games and the Big Ten opener against Rutgers next weekend.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum this week,” Lemonis said. “We need to play well, we need to have two good games, and then we start Big Ten play, which we’re excited for.”