Indiana Baseball Staves Off NCAA Elimination With Win Over Illinois-Chicago

The Hoosiers live to fight another day.

After three consecutive postseason games where IU’s sluggers seemingly vanished, the big bats came alive on Saturday against Illinois-Chicago in a NCAA Tournament elimination game at the Louisville Regional.

Indiana (37-22) defeated the Flames by a final score of 9-5 at Jim Patterson Stadium, and it was the return of the long ball that made the difference in this one.

Indiana’s Drew Ashley, Cole Barr and Matt Lloyd all homered on the day for the Hoosiers.  Barr and Lloyd continued their ongoing seesaw battle for the team lead in home runs, with both players now at 17 on the season.

Lloyd’s homer was a three run shot that gave IU some breathing room in the top of the sixth after an uncomfortably close first five innings.  His long ball to right gave IU a 7-3 lead that they would not relinquish.

Leadoff man Drew Ashley reached base three times and scored twice on the day.  Centerfielder Grant Richardson added two hits, two runs and two runs batted in.

All-American Andrew Saalfrank started for IU, but for the second straight day a normally reliable IU starter didn’t have his best stuff.  Saalfrank went just 3.1 innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs while striking out only two.

Gabe Bierman was strong in relief, holding the Flames scoreless in 3.2 innings of work.  Lefty Tommy Sommer helped quell an eighth inning rally by Illinois-Chicago after they had loaded the bases.  He then went on to close things out in the ninth and send the Hoosiers on to Sunday.

IU will now face the loser of today’s Louisville/Illinois State contest on Sunday at Noon Eastern in another elimination battle.

Regional host Louisville and Illinois State are scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday afternoon.

The winner of Sunday’s elimination contest would then need to defeat the lone remaining unbeaten team twice — on Sunday evening and then again on Monday — in order to advance to a Super Regional.

Note:  IU outfielder Matt Gorski did not play due to a wrist injury.

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