Taylor homers to lead Stanford comeback; forces Indiana into winner-take-all final

WHAT HAPPENED: Pinch-hitter Wayne Taylor hit a three-run home run in the eighth-inning to give Stanford the lead in a 10-7 victory over Indiana in front of 3,524 at Bart Kaufman Field in the NCAA Tournament Bloomington Regional.

With the win, the No. 3 seed Cardinal (33-24) force the No. 1 seed Hoosiers (44-14) into a winner-take all final game in the regional. Indiana could have clinched the regional if it had won. The winner of Monday’s game plays Vanderbilt in the super regional round, as the Commodores beat Oregon to claim the title in the Nashville Regional.

The Hoosiers took a 3-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by first baseman Sam Travis, an RBI double by third baseman Dustin DeMuth and a sacrifice fly by right fielder Will Nolden that scored a run. 

Stanford answered with solo home runs by right fielder Zach Hoffpauir and catcher Brant Whiting in the top of the second to cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Hoosiers scored a run in the second when Tim O’Conner doubled and then scored on a wild pitch, then took a 5-2 lead on an RBI single by Kyle Schwarber in the fourth.

Stanford scored two runs in the top of the fifth. Shortstop Tommy Edman and first baseman Danny Diekroeger opened the inning with singles, with Diekroeger’s sending Edman to third. Third baseman Alex Blandino drove in Edman with a sacrifice fly. Center fielder Austin Slater then singled to right. IU right fielder Will Nolden over threw third base trying to throw out Diekroger and the ball went into the dugout, allowing him to score. Still, the Hoosiers were up 6-4 heading into the eighth thanks to a two-out RBI double by designated hitter Scott Donley.

In the eighth, though, Stanford got singles by Hoffpauir and designated hitter Dominic Jose to get runs on first and third with two out off reliever Luke Harrison. Tracy Smith pulled Harrison for Jake Kelzer, who threw an 0-1 slider that Taylor hit out of the yard to center field.

Stanford tacked on three runs in the ninth. Shortstop Tommy Edman opened with a double, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt then scored on a single by Blandino. Slater then doubled to left, chasing Kelzer from the game. Will Coursen-Carr then surrendered a triple to Hoffpauir to make it 10-6. Indiana loaded the bases in the ninth and scored a run on an RBI groundout by Donley, but Dustin DeMuth lined out to second to end the game.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Taylor was hitting just .234 coming into the game, but had proven himself a dangerous power bat with three home runs. Kelzer’s breaking pitches — curveball and slider both — are nasty, but he stayed on one and crushed it over the wall to the opposite field.

Hoffpauir was 3-for-5 with the home run, triple, two runs scored and two RBI. Blandino drove in two runs and Slater, who is on a 21-game hitting streak, went 3-for-5 with a run scored an an RBI.

The Cardinal only got 1 2/3 innings from left-hander Logan James, but top reliever A.J. Vanegas bulldogged it through 5 1/3 innings, the longest outing of his career. He gave up two runs, but just four hits and four walks, striking out five on 80 pitches and keeping the Hoosiers from blowing up their lead.

Scott Donley had a pair of hits and two RBI in the loss. Travis and Schwarber also had two hits each.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Jake Kelzer had been lights out the last two months and hadn’t given up a run since March 26, striking out 28 batters in that time. After giving up the home run in the crucial situation, he seemingly crumbled and couldn’t get an out after that. The insurance runs were critical, as the Hoosiers essentially ran out of time to score runs.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The Hoosiers were sitting as pretty as possible after Saturday’s win with the advantage of being able to pitch their No. 2 starter, an All-Big Ten pick in Morris. He wasn’t at his best, however, and the Hoosiers have to hope that on Monday, someone else is. They never faced elimination in last year’s regional, and none of these players have experienced a loss in the rounds before the College World Series before. They know they have a worthy opponent in Stanford and they have to find a way to beat them one more time or else watch what has been a special season end on their home field two weeks early.

They still have some pitching left. Brian Korte hasn’t thrown yet and neither has Sullivan Stadler. Thomas Belcher has thrown sparingly and Scott Effross is an option for more work after throwing just four innings on Friday. Stanford has been even more taxed, having already played four games and used all four of their normal starters. Still, the Cardinal have the momentum, and the Hoosiers have to find a way to stop it.

One comment

  1. The bullpen that has been money all season, wasn’t yesterday. I have a feeling that they want to redeem themselves and will be ready to get after it today.

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