Tracy Smith's Hoosiers faced a nail-biter in their first game of the weekend but mostly strolled through the rest of the bracket. Indiana started off their weekend of hosting one of the NCAA regionals by taking on the upstart Valparaiso Crusaders. Beneficiaries of a hot run through their conference tournament the Crusaders showed a lot of gusto in a bracket where they should have been over-matched. It took Indiana putting up 4 runs in the 9th inning against a pitcher who only gave one run all season to skate by Valpo. In their next game Valparaiso was able to dispatch the SEC's Florida to leave them winless in the post season.
Indiana moved on to run up the scoreboard in game two of their bracket challenge by lighting up Austin Peay's staff with 14 hits. Austin Peay's staff contributed to the rout handing out 12 walks of their own. The Hoosiers walked away from that one with a 15-6 victory. Austin Peay headed on to the loser's bracket to try and get a second shot at Indiana while the Hoosiers took some comfort in knowing that they're one win away from heading to the "Sweet 16" in Tallahassee.
Austin Peay won that showdown with Valpo and had the opportunity to try and affect revenge. Unfortunately for the Governor's things went south almost immediately. The second batter of the game, Kyle Schwarber, on a 3-0 pitch rocketed the offering into the right field bleachers to put the Hoosiers ahead for good. By the end of the first inning it was 3-0 and the Hoosiers never looked back.
The game however, wasn't without its drama for a small segment of time. In the top of the second with two on a Will Coursen-Carr delivery to the Austin Peay catcher was crushed to center field. Fortunately for the freshman pitcher he had the amazing spiderman, Justin Cureton playing defense. Cureton scaled the wall in center field to bring the ball back into play and then had the awareness to double off the runner at first who was already starting the home run trot. Austin Peay didn't truly threaten again until the 6th inning.
The Governors were able to string together some timely hitting to push a run across in the 6th while chasing Coursen-Carr with the bases loaded. Tracy Smith brought in Luke Harrison who did his duty and recorded an out before Smith made a very bizarre and ultimately brilliant move. Smith brought in closer Ryan Halstead to get the final out in the sixth. Halstead went on to pitch the final three innings of the game and essentially "closed" it out anyway. Halstead only allowed one base runner in that 3.1 innings pitched.
So now the Hoosiers will move on to a best of three series against the #7 seed Florida State in Tallahassee. The Hoosiers have already been down to Florida (Gainesville) once this season so it shouldn't be too new of an experience for them. I can't really make a prediction on how I think it will go down, but IU has only had one series all year that didn't involve them winning at least one game. I expect it to be some exciting baseball and with a little bit of skill and luck, the Hoosiers will book a trip to Nebraska for the College World Series.