June 1, 2014


Taylor, Cardinal Rally Past Hoosiers

By Chris Webb

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com



BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana sat four outs away from a claiming the Bloomington Regional, set to host a Super Regional.


After a furious Stanford rally, the No. 4 national seed now faces a decisive winner-take-all championship game. With six runs over the final two innings, the Cardinal knocked off the Hoosiers 10-7, setting the stage for a championship game Monday evening at 5:35 p.m. ET.


“We came back and we got some big hits,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said following the elimination-saving win. “It was just a great college baseball game, great atmosphere, and we are fortunate to win.”


Indiana opened the game with three consecutive singles off Stanford starter Logan James. En route to scoring three runs in the inning, senior third baseman Dustin DeMuth provided a ground-rule double.


The Hoosiers (44-14) had little time to enjoy their comfortable lead.


Right fielder Zach Hoffpauir and catcher Brant Whiting led off the second with back-to-back home runs for the Cardinal (33-24). The two blasts were the second time Sunday Stanford hit consecutive home runs: First baseman Danny Diekroeger and third baseman Alex Blandino went back-to-back in their 12-4 elimination win over Youngstown State to advance to take on Indiana.


A second ground-rule double in as many innings allowed IU to expand its lead. Center fielder Tim O’Conner opened the Indiana second with a one-hopper over the left-field wall. After James recorded a ground out that advanced O’Conner to third, Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber went down on strikes. With Big Ten Player of the Year Sam Travis at the plate, Marquess called on his closer AJ Vanegas to keep it a closer game.


“We told him we were going to go to him early, and there was no tomorrow and we needed to win today and to keep playing,” Marquess said.


Riding a hot bat into the championship round, two homers in the first two Regional games, Travis singled up the middle to make it a 4-2 game.


Indiana tacked on another run in the fourth. Schwarber picked up an RBI-single through the left side, scoring O’Conner. The Hoosiers’ center fielder drew a four-pitch walk with one out, moving into scoring position on a wild pitch by Venegas before Schwarber drove in him from third.


Facing another three-run deficit, Stanford repeated what it did the last time it faced such a hole, scored two runs.


A pair of one-out singles chased Indiana starter Christian Morris, bringing freshman right-hander Thomas Belcher into the contest. A sacrifice fly by Blandino scored shortstop Tommy Edman. Diekroeger scored the second run of the inning on a single to right field by Austin Slater with the aid of a throwing error from IU right fielder Will Nolden. With Slater at third representing the tying run, Indiana called on first-team all-Big Ten reliever Luke Harrison. The junior right-hander induced a 6-3 putout from Hoffpauir to end the threat.


The score held 5-4 in Indiana’s favor until the seventh.


Vanegas’ second four-pitch walk of the inning, the first erased on a Schwarber 6-4-3 double play, put Travis on base with two down. Indiana designated hitter Scott Donley doubled to right center, extending Indiana’s cushion to 6-4.


That would be the last time Indiana would lead, an eighth inning coming when Stanford grabbed its first lead against the Hoosiers in 16 innings.


Harrison, still in the game after entering in the fifth, saw Hoffpauir turn the first pitch back up the middle for a one-out single. With two outs designated hitter Dominic Jose’s single put runners on the corners, and IU coach Tracy Smith called on reliever Jake Kelzer, a sophomore right-hander who closed Indiana’s Saturday win over Stanford with 1.2 innings.


There would be no relief provided in his second outing against the Pac-12 club. Pinch-hitter Wayne Taylor smashed the second pitch he saw over the left-center fence, a three-run home run putting the Cardinal in front 7-6.


“I actually saw that guy last night in a pinch‑hit situation,” Taylor said about his ground-rule double off Kelzer. “So I think Coach just thought it was a good match up. I ended up getting the barrel on it and driving it pretty well.”


“He's done a great job for us all year,” Smith said of calling on Kelzer. “The guy hadn't given up a run in a long time, a long time.  So I would do it again.”


Stanford continued racking up extra-base hits in the ninth on its way to a second three-run inning.


Edman doubled down the left-field line to lead off the inning. After Blandino singled through the left side to score Edman, Slater doubled to left-center to score Blandino. With Kelzer unable to get outs, Indiana turned to sophomore left-hander Will Coursen-Carr. The southpaw was greeted with a triple to right-center by Hoffpauir scoring Blandino for a 10-6 edge.


The Cardinal encountered a rocky ninth in trying to put away the Hoosiers.


Marcus Brakeman loaded the bases on three consecutive walks to open to ninth. Freshman Chris Castellanos was called upon and exchanged an out for a run on a fielder’s choice by Scott Donley. The tying run at the plate, Castellanos was able to get DeMuth to line out to Doran, the second baseman tagging first for a game-ending double play to close the 10-7 win for the Cardinal.


Pounding out 14 hits, Stanford was led by Slater and Hoffpauir going 3 for 5 as the four- and five-hole hitters. Indiana’s 2-3-4 hitters, Schwarber, Travis and Donley combined to go 6 for 12. Vanegas held Indiana to two runs and four hits over 5.1 innings, earning a win in his longest outing of the season. Kelzer surrendered four runs off five hits in two-thirds of an inning to suffer the loss.


“Been around the game a long time, and there's good wins and there's tough losses,” Smith said. “This, it's a loss. We're going to go take a shower, go eat, sleep, get up and come ready to play baseball.  It's pretty simple.”