June 9, 2013
Indiana Steals Limelight
By D.C. Reeves
Warchant.com Managing Editor
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
When the program with 21 College World Series appearances
pushed, the program with zero pushed back.
When the team with the
banners couldn't get runners home, the one that just threw its
first Super Regional pitch in program history came up clutch.
That was Indiana,
postseason newbies, as it marched into Tallahassee and swept
through Florida State in this weekend's NCAA Super Regional. The
Hoosiers punched their first ticket to Omaha on Sunday with
another impressive offensive showing, topping the Seminoles
"It all goes without
saying for all the other guys in uniform and the people around
the state of Indiana, and just all our IU folks, we are
thrilled, we are happy," Indiana coach Tracy Smith said.
His team is the first
Big 10 member to make the CWS in 29 years.
"I tweeted out the
other day that every pitch that we make, every hit and every out
is really making history for our baseball program because this
is certainly uncharted territory for us,” Smith said. “But we
are thrilled, we are happy and there's a lot of work to do."
Despite the lack of
experience in these type of spots, Indiana only showed wide eyes
at the plate. After 10 runs in Saturday's win, the Hoosiers
(48-14) kept the bats toasty Sunday, plating four runs in the
first inning off of FSU starter Scott Sitz.
And like Saturday, when
FSU was down early, it clawed back in the early innings, tying
the game with a three-run fifth inning. And with the game tied
at 5, FSU had its golden chance. But a fitting microcosm of
FSU's untimeliness on the weekend, Josh Delph struck out with
the bases loaded. In all, Florida State stranded 27 runners in
the two games including 13 on Sunday.
FSU catcher Stephen
McGee, who is nursing a hand injury suffered during last week's
Regional, was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts on Sunday. Florida
State also had three loud outs caught on the warning track on
"It's very frustrating
to go up there working every at-bat, every pitch, and we just
couldn't come up with the key hit when we needed it," FSU left
fielder DJ Stewart said.
Timing was no issue for
Indiana, which got crucial relief outs from left-hander Will
Coursen-Carr (5-0) on both days. He picked up for starter Aaron
Slegers and struck out Delph to stop the bleeding in the fifth
on the way to four innings of one-run ball and the win. He
picked up the save in Saturday's 10-9 win.
"It's funny how you sit
over there and say somebody, somebody pick us up,” Seminoles
coach Mike Martin said. “You have to credit them for making
pitches when they needed to make them…There again, it's just
part of the game. It makes it interesting every night. We of
course had good at bats to position ourselves to get us in the
situation of having chances, but as I said, sometimes things
just don't go your way."
Then, like Saturday,
Indiana responded at the plate. Sam Travis hit a two-run home
run in the bottom half of the fifth to give Indiana for good at
7-5. The Hoosiers added another run in the seventh and three
more in the eighth to put the game away.
Indiana's resolve - in
the face of unfamiliar postseason territory and a hostile crowd
- was the key. Starting in the fourth inning on Saturday,
Florida State tied or took the lead four different times. In the
ensuing half inning on those four occasions, Indiana combined to
plate seven runs.
When the Hoosiers
needed hits, they got them.
"As soon as we tied it,
they hit the two-run homer [Sunday]," said Martin, whose team
owns the longest Super Regional appearance streak (6) in the
nation. "We never seemed to get a lead we could add to. I think
we led one time in two games. You just tip your hat to that
bunch. They came in here poised, they just got it done."
Even the series
clincher followed suit. In the eighth Indiana's No. 9 hitter
Justin Cureton, who sported a .219 average entering Sunday,
squeezed a two-run triple down the first-base line to make it
"I don't think you
[push back] unless you have confident, talented kids," Smith
said. "And that's the one thing that we just said, don't get
caught up that it's Florida State. This a storied program, one
of the best programs, has been for a long time. Don't get caught
up on what it says on the jersey, don't get caught up with the
crowd, don't do this, don't do that, just be nine guys vs. their
nine guys and let's be better than those nine guys. And I think
our guys had confidence in that and they felt like they could do
that. And certainly offensively we thought we were this
Sunday marks the fourth
time Florida State has been swept in Super Regional play and the
third time at home. It was also the first series FSU lost at
home since May 19-21, 2011 against Clemson.
Sitz (10-2), who made
his last collegiate start, was saddled with just his second loss
of the year. He allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings, the most
earned runs he's allowed since his freshman season in 2010 - a
span of 56 appearances.
State won 48 games in the face of inexperience and injury. FSU's
top four hitters were gone following 2012 while team captain
Justin Gonzalez (hip) and pitcher Mike Compton (elbow), a
freshman All-American a season ago, missed the vast majority of
"I feel like we just
did a great job. A quality year. Pitching, hitting, defense,
everything just came together, we played great together as a
team," Sitz said as his eyes welled. "I feel like that is why
it's so hard right now."
"We wouldn't be here if
it wasn't for you buddy," Martin said. As Sitz lowered his head,
Martin slapped Sitz on the back.
On this weekend,
though, it was the team that had never seen this stage before
that answered everything thrown its way.
"I could not be happier
that it happened here because I think it makes a statement,
hopefully it does, that this is not a fluke," Smith said. "I
think our team is pretty good and we'll see how we do moving