The planets feel like they are lining up for Indiana to make some noise in Omaha starting this Saturday at 8 pm. In the entirety of the Regionals and Super Regionals, only three national seeded teams made it through. Of the eight that we started with three survive. Adding to the positives is the fact that only one made it into Indiana's side of the bracket. The Hoosiers have a tall order to fill but the match-ups have played into Indiana's favor to get into the finals.
For those not familiar with the structure of the CWS it's a little off kilter. We start of with essentially two separate regionals again. Indiana will face off with Louisville on Saturday night. It is double elimination and the winner gets the winner of Oregon State and Mississippi St. The loser the loser. The same thing occurs on the other side of the bracket until we get our participants in the final game, where the two teams play a best of 3 series like in the Super Regionals. So Indiana has got to come out swinging early.
The Hoosiers first match-up is with a team that was regularly ranked higher than them all year, but one which the Hoosiers beat in two of three showdowns this year. The best part about that too is the fact that it wasn't in a series. Indiana and Louisville played three times this year but they did it in the fashion of one off games and then not see each other again for a few weeks. So you can't say Louisville had a bad weekend or IU had a good one to get two of those three wins. There were legitimately earned in the format we're going to see on Saturday.
In game one, the Hoosiers opened the season with a game against Louisville in Florida. Louisville was pre-season #4 in the nation and fell to Indiana 2-0. Joey DeNato started and threw four scoreless which was led by true freshman and lightly used Evan Bell throwing another four scoreless. Closer Ryan Halstead then came in to shut the door. The Hoosiers had eight players record their ten hits as Scott Donely and Michael Basil were responsible for driving in the two winning runs.
Two months later, the Hoosiers faced off with now #10 Louisville in Bloomington where they took another game, 6-2. True freshman and midweek starter Will Coursen-Carr got the nod for this game. Louisville manufactured one run off of him in four innings by way of single, stolen base, fielder's choice, sac fly. Scott Efross (another true freshman) went 3.2 of 1 run ball. That one being unearned by Efross being megged on a grounder to score a run. Ryan Halstead again came in to shut the door. Offensively Justin Cureton recorded two runs driven in despite not recording a hit. Dustin DeMuth and Will Nolden tripled and drove in runs as well.
The final showdown in Louisville, saw Indiana fall victim to a walk-off. The #10 Cardinals faced off again with Coursen-Carr who didn't factor into the decision. Again defense was a problem for Indiana giving up two of Louisville's four runs unearned. Indiana on the other hand forced Louisville to go with seven pitchers despite only recording 4 hits. Cureton and DeMuth again were the heroes by DeMuth blasting a two run shot and Cureton an RBI single. Louisville manufactured the winning run in the ninth with a double, bunt, sac fly to finish the game.
The Hoosiers have shown that going toe to toe with Louisville isn't something that should be intimidating. Indiana has had the greater success on the season in head to head competitions. I'm not saying that they are for sure going to win, but you've got to feel good about getting started off on the right foot. If the pitching can find its consistency it had in the season then Indiana has as good a shot as any to find their way into the finals.