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Indiana Baseball could be heating up at precisely the right time

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The Hoosiers put a late flourish on their tournament résumé with a big win over Louisville in extra innings.

I will never not use this image when I write about baseball.
Auston Matricardi

It seems Indiana has finally put their struggles behind them— and not a moment too soon.

Apologies if y’all were expecting a gamer. I’m sure someone wrote a good one somewhere. If nothing else, our own Auston Matricardi live-tweeted it so you can check out his feed if you’re jonesin’ for dressed up play-by-play.

After a dismal stretch that saw the Hoosiers drop nine of eleven, confidence began to wane that Indiana would for-sure be playing in the NCAA Tournament. A loss to open the series against a not-that-good Nebraska squad felt like a red alert. Forget baseball’s Big Dance— the Hoosiers were suddenly at-risk of failing to qualify for their own conference tournament.

Granted, they haven’t reached assured safety in that regard. They sit at 11-9 with three to play, good for 6th in a conference that will only let 8 into their postseason. Those final three games? Only against Maryland, who sits in 8th at 9-11 and will be fighting their dicks off to not fall out of the picture. Two wins this weekend assures a top-8 finish, anything less (coupled with good weekends for Michigan State and Iowa) and things could get sideways quick.

So when you find your postseason hopes in a more precarious position, and you have a chance to get a top-30 road win at midweek, it’s always a good idea to make good on it.

And that’s what Indiana did.

The back-and-forth affair sat at 3-3 after the Cardinals tied up in in the 9th but before Louisville could take their first cuts in extra innings, Indiana had scored six runs. The home team managed to tack on a couple in their frame but it wasn’t nearly enough.

The tenth inning almost felt like a proclamation. The Indiana team that had been scuffling? Now surging. The bats that had been quiet? Getting noisy. A lot of teams would find it difficult to recover after blowing a 2-run lead in the ninth, but Indiana shrugged off the challenge and came out swinging in tenth.

Their midseason swoon assuredly cost them the opportunity to host their own regional, and quite possibly the chance to play a bit closer to home or in an otherwise friendlier regional. Based on the projections as it stands right now, Indiana is closer to being a 3-seed than a 2-seed in a regional, and the 1-seeds in their projected pods range from the undeniably tough (Clemson, Duke) to the nightmare scenario (Stanford). But their return to form is going to give them the chance to improve that position and, perhaps more importantly, provide them the confidence that they can be the team that ranked among the top programs in the country at the beginning of the season.

The season’s most important series kicks off on Thursday in Bloomington.