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Despite loss, Hoosiers have some fun in home finale

May 17, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University baseball team (30-22) closed out its 2011 home schedule by dropping an 8-4 decision to the Louisville Cardinals (27-26). The season series is split after a road win in Louisville earlier this season for IU.

Junior third baseman Brian Ritz made the most of his two at-bats on Tuesday, going extra bases in both with a double and homerun. Senior Brian Lambert, playing in his last game at Sembower Field, delivered an RBI-single in his pinch-hit opportunity.

The Cardinals, using nine pitchers on the day, were able to get ahead early; scoring one in the first, five in the third and two in the fourth for an 8-0 edge.

With the game seemingly out of reach in the seventh, the Hoosiers started having some fun. It all began with Dylan Swift making the rarely-heard defensive substitution of "moving from catcher to pitcher." The senior from Princeton, Ind., put himself in a jam right away after surrendering back-to-back hits. With two runners in scoring position, Swift hunkered down and fanned the next two batters, including 2010 Second Team All-American Ryan Wright, to escape the inning unscathed.

Swift returned to the bump in the eighth, sitting down the Cardinals in succession, 1-2-3. His career ERA in 13.1 IP plummeted to 2.70.

The Hoosier bats then came alive in the bottom half of the inning. Ritz got it started with a double into the right center field power alley. A pair of seniors in T.C. Knipp and Lambert followed with consecutive pinch-hit singles, scoring Ritz. Indiana's third hit of the frame, a single by Alex Dickerson, pushed Knipp over to third base where he would later score on a passed ball.

It was Trace Knoblauch's turn to toe the rubber in the ninth inning as Swift trekked over to play second base. Knoblauch, in his first career pitching appearance, retired the side in order. He got a pair of defensive assists from Swift at second, including a diving play in which he quickly got to his knees and fired out the runner at first.

The day of firsts continued in the bottom of the ninth when fifth-year senior pitcher Matt Carr borrowed Micah Johnson's batting helmet and stepped into the box for his first career at-bat. Carr stroked the first pitch, hitting a chopper to the short stop for the first out of the inning. Two of the next three Hoosiers would smoke homeruns though, cutting the deficit to 8-4. Ty Downing cranked the first before Ritz crushed the second, his coming off a 90 mph fastball from Louisville closer Tony Zych. The next hitter was struck out, however, and the Hoosier rally fell short.

Next up for the Cream and Crimson is a road trip to Champaign, Ill., to take on the Fighting Illini in the final series of the regular season. The games will be played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. With just three games to play, the Hoosiers are in a tie for fourth-place in the conference standings. The top-six teams advance to the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.