Hoosier Baseball Heads to Louisville for Final Showdown with Regional Rival

USA TODAY Sports

Indiana and Louisville are the two most capable Midwest schools when it comes to college baseball over the last few years and luckily they have had a mid-week season series running for pretty much the whole time that the two squads have been "up". Tonight at 6 pm the Cardinals will host the Hoosiers for the third and final game of their season series. The Hoosiers won the first two quite handily, but the timing of this one likely makes it the most important.

With this being the final week of the regular season, Indiana on a major hot streak and fighting for a national seed, getting one final regular season win over a top 10 program could be what sets their national seed in stone. The strength of schedule over the last two weeks has taken a major hit with weekend series' against Purdue and Penn State, so just playing Louisville will be beneficial. But a win would be optimal. Meanwhile, Louisville is likely just on the outside looking in of a national seed. A win over Indiana could be what gets them over the hump. Essentially, just playing the game would be beneficial for both squads, but winning it could have large ripples in the pool.

As far as a historic perspective, the Hoosiers have absolutely owned the recent series. Indiana has won 5 of the last 6, including a win in the opening round of the College World Series in Omaha last year. Overall, the Hoosiers lead the series 24-22 and improving on that streak will be very big for the Hoosiers.

I'm not certain who has been tabbed to be the starter for tonight's game. There's potential for it to be Will Coursen-Carr. He's been demoted from a weekend starter to the bullpen recently but would still be ideal to start a mid-week game. However, in most recent games the Hoosiers have pitched their mid-week by committee. Sullivan Stadler threw three shutout innings two weeks ago in a blowout against Miami (OH). Whoever it is, it'll likely be a guy with a short leash. The Hoosiers need this and I don't think Tracy Smith is going to risk it early if things turn south.

As for the lineup, look for Brad Hartong to continue his hot streak. At the halfway point in the season, he was hitting like hot garbage. Since then he's been on fire. With his average up to .339, he's been a key cog at keeping some rallies alive throughout the last 20 games. Of course, you also have Dustin DeMuth, Sam Travis and Kyle Schwarber hitting the crap out of the ball at will.

I think the Hoosiers are the favorite today because of their offense. Mid-week games tend to be the lower end of the pitching spectrum when conference season rolls around. Indiana's offense is potent and can really pack a punch.  Louisville's does too, but I'm less trusting. Few teams can keep up with Indiana when they're swinging the bats. I expect them to hit their way to a season sweep of Louisville in Kentucky tonight.

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