When your best starter is feeling pain early on in your first game of the NCAA Baseball Regional round, it’s usually a hard hole to dig yourself out of.
But Indiana persevered.
Behind a great offensive showing and some help from their bullpen, IU took their first NCAA Regional game with a 12-6 win over West Virginia at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Ky.
Indiana’s ace Luke Sinnard was, to say the least, dealing in his first start at an NCAA Regional. He went two full innings pitched and struck out five of the eight batters he faced. However, after a pitch in the dirt in the top of the 3rd, Sinnard started showing some discomfort in his throwing arm.
After a mound visit from both the trainer and head coach Jeff Mercer and some emotional embraces with his teammates, Sinnard was pulled from the game, only giving up one run and leaving the contest with the advantage to Indiana, 3-1.
Sinnard was replaced by Freshman Brayden Risedorph, who struggled to keep momentum in favor of Indiana. He gave up two runs in the 3rd and another in the 4th to give West Virginia the lead. Risedorph would settle into his role, however, and would be credited with the win after 3.2 innings.
Indiana’s offense shined against West Virginia starter Blain Traxel, as they added three more runs in the 5th to take a 6-4 lead. After a West Virginia RBI double in the 6th and a pair of runs from both teams in the 8th, Indiana’s lead would be cut to 7-6 heading into the 9th.
And then the IU bats erupted.
The West Virginia bullpen proved to be no match for IU, as a two RBI triple from Brock Tibbitts would ignite a big top of the ninth. Carter Mathison drove in Tibbitts with a single, and Josh Pyne followed suit with a 2-run shot just right of the left field foul pole, topping off a 5-run 9th inning for a 12-6 lead.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 3, 2023
Ty Bothwell would go 1,2,3 to earn the save for the Hoosiers, helping secure a win for Indiana’s opening regional matchup.
Indiana turns around and faces regional host Kentucky on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (SEC Network). Kentucky and Indiana faced off in the regular season, with IU conceding defeat 12-2 after seven innings earlier this year.
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