Nebraska walks-off pitcher’s duel in the 10th inning to knot up series

Foley starts with 5 scoreless innings and exits with slim lead, but Huskers get a pair of homers to set up a walk-off

By Carl James @jovian34 May 12th, 2024

Indiana jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Devin Taylor lead off the game with a solo home run. I literally copied that sentence from the Friday recap. The decision to put Taylor in the lead-off slot has paid huge dividends for Indiana. Taylor has been getting a few more pitches to hit and has really capitalized.

Indiana Hoosiers 2, Nebraska Cornhuskers 5:

Box Score

That one run would be all Indiana would need to hold a lead through the first 5 innings as Connor Foley was able to keep the Husker bats at bay. Foley did not have his best stuff, a point head coach Jeff Mercer alluded to in his mid-game Big Ten Network interview. The fastball was riding up a lot and this lead to an elevated pitch count. That being said, the off-speed was working and Foley was able to get fastballs into the zone when needed in order to manage the game. Foley through 94 pitches showing he is very close to being fully stretched out again which is very good news for Indiana going forward.

Now Foley did impress with an amazing defensive play. Amazing might not even be the right word. What Foley did looked downright impossible, especially for a pitcher.

Nebraska’s starting pitcher Mason McConnaughey had the Hoosier batters mostly flummoxed for 7 innings. While two-thirds of McConnaughey’s pitches were recorded as strikes, a lot of those were sliders well outside the strike zone that Hoosier batters chased. This has not been typical of a Hoosier offense that usually has well above average plate discipline. McConnaughey was apparently doing a really good job Saturday making the fastball and slider indistinguishable out of the hand as the issue seemed to impact the lineup up and down the order.

Drew Buhr was first out of the pen for Indiana in the sixth. He was filling up the zone and gave up a pair of solo shots in the sixth and seventh inning. Indiana tied the game in the top of the 8th when Tyler Cerny bounced an RBI double off the centerfield fence. McConnaughey finally exited with a tie game and 7.1 innings pitched.

Nebraska went to left cross-fire arm Calen Clark who provided a very different look for Hoosier batters. Contact looked better against Clark than McConnaughey overall but the Hoosiers were not able to string hits together enough to plate any late runs.

After Buhr got into a one-out jam in the 8th, the Hoosiers brought lefty junior Ryan Kraft into to get one left-handed out and then turned the ball over to Julian Tonghini to go the rest of the way. Tonghini was relatively effective, filling up the zone with a mix of high spin curveballs and high-80’s fastballs.

As the road team each new inning starting in the ninth, Indiana knew it needed at least 6 outs to win so they stayed with Tonghini. Nebraska finally figured him out in the bottom of the 10th inning ripping a lead off double, taking an intentional walk. Several of Tonghini’s curveballs were up in the zone. On the last pitch of the game Cornhusker left fielder Cole Evans was ready and end the game with a three-run homer.

With five of six Big Ten series, including this one, going to rubber matches Sunday, the Big Ten standings are mostly back to where they were on Thursday with Indiana, Nebraska, and Purdue all one game back of Illinois. Sunday may turn out to be the most decisive day for the Big ten race with only four games to go and the top six all playing each other.

Indiana and Nebraska will have a quick turnaround with a 12noon ET first pitch at Nebraska. The game will be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network.