Indiana falls 8-7 in its NCAA baseball opener to Illinois State

The Hoosiers rallied to tie the game but lost to hot-hitting Illinois State.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana erased a five-run deficit but ultimately lost, 8-7, to Illinois State in its NCAA baseball region opener at Jim Patterson Stadium on Friday afternoon. IU was outhit in the game, 18-7.

The Hoosiers had little going their way, trailing 7-2 after six innings. 

Outside of Elijah Dunham's two-run homer in the first, IU was dominated by Illinois State starter Brent Headrick. The 6-foot-6-inch junior only allowed two other hits and struck out a career-high 14 in six innings of work.

"A lot of it was us having bad at-bats, really having no approach, no mind set going into the box really, just kind of flailing at the ball," IU's Scotty Bradley said. "Obviously, it bit us in the butt in the end."

"I think it fundamentally comes down to our players confidence," Dunham added. "I feel like a lot of guys are just not confident in the box right now. It just kind of looks like they're giving up at-bats, and it looks like they're just trying not to strike out, which is not the mentality to have at the plate."

Then Dunham really said what was on his mind.

"Some of our teammates are just hitting like a bunch of babies, and it's really frustrating," he said.

But when Headrick left, things changed immediately.

Indiana sent 11 batters to the plate against three Redbird relievers and scored five times in the seventh. The last run came in when Ryan Fineman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, tying things at 7. 

Illinois State got the lead back in the top of the eighth when Joe Aeilts doubled in Derek Parola. And that was game-winner, sending IU into the loser's bracket game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

"We acted like we panicked for about five innings," IU head coach Jeff Mercer said. "You have to be able to be emotionally stable in moments that are heightened. We tried to do way too much. We tried to take individual at-bats in a very team-oriented game and tried to overwhelm the game individually, and that's just not how it works."

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