Indiana beats Austin Peay 6-1 to clinch regional title, advance to Super Regionals

 

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana defeated Austin Peay 6-1 in front of 3,214 at Bart Kaufman Field to clinch the Bloomington Regional and advance to the best-of-three Super Regionals against Florida State in Tallahassee next weekend. It’s the first ever NCAA Tournament regional championship for Indiana, which had won all of one NCAA Tournament game before this weekend and won that in 1996. It’s the first time since 2007 that a Big Ten team has reached a Super Regional, with Michigan having made the last trip.

First baseman Sam Travis was named the regional’s most outstanding player. Catcher Kyle Schwarber, second baseman Chad Clark, outfielders Justin Cureton and Casey Smith and designated hitter Scott Donley were also named to the All-Regional team.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: IU center fielder Justin Cureton was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, but no one will remember that from this game. What they will remember is Cureton going over the center field wall to bring back but would’ve been a three-run home run off the bat of Austin Peay catcher P.J. Torres. Cureton had a long way to go just to get to the ball, but climbed the 8-foot wall to haul it back in, then doubled Austin Peay¬† left fielder Cody Hudson off at first base because he had strayed way too far believing the ball would clear the wall. That ended the second inning and Indiana kept its 3-0 lead.

The Hoosiers developed that lead thanks to a majestic solo home run in the first from catcher Kyle Schwarber and then RBI singles from shortstop Michael Basil and left fielder Casey Smith later in that inning. Third baseman Dustin DeMuth then came up with an RBI double in the fifth to put the Hoosiers up 4-0.

As big as Cureton’s contribution was, closer Ryan Halstead’s might have been bigger. The Governors were threatening in the top of the sixth and they scored a run on a bases-loaded walk issued by IU reliever Luke Harrison to Austin Peay designated hitter Michael Davis to make it 4-1. However Harrison struck out Torres and the Hoosiers opted to go with their closer much earlier than usual because they realized the game would be decided by what happened in the sixth inning. Halstead stepped in and struck out pinch hitter Matt Wollenzin for a strikeout on a 1-2 pitch. Halstead stayed in and pitched the next three innings, throwing 38 of his 55 pitches for strikes.

Starter Will Coursen-Carr was also strong, pitching five scoreless innings before he ran into trouble in the sixth. he struck out three betters and surrendered just five hits.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Cureton’s catch was especially devastating to Austin Peay because falling behind early was the worst possible scenario for a team with a depleted pitching staff. The Governors had opted to go with reliever Kevin Corey, who had thrown all of 12 innings this season heading into the game and had been an infielder earlier in the season. Indiana jumped on him with the three-run first, but the homer from Torres would have been the equalizer they needed. Plus, they had opted to go back to right-hander Casey Delgado and left-hander Zach Hall, despite the fact that Delgado had pitched Saturday’s game against IU and Hall pitched on Friday against Florida. Delgado had only made it 1 2/3 innings, but was actually very solid for 3 1/3 on Sunday. If the Governors got the home run from Torres, they might have had some momentum, but that catch took the wind out of their sails significantly.

Also massive for Indiana was the decision to put their closer in the game in the sixth inning at a juncture that they realized would determine the game. IU coach Tracy Smith said the only reason it worked was because of the prescience of pitching coach Ty Neal.

“Before that inning started, Luke went down there and Ty says to me, ‘Let’s make sure we have Halstead ready for a close situation in this inning,’ which was great,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “Because he came in and walked the guy, got the big strikeout, but at that point, we felt like the game was gonna be decided in that inning, so rather than make the close situation the ninth, we felt it was there. All credit goes to coach Neal because he had Ryan hot, anticipating that particular situation. That already formulated. I wish I could take credit for that one. Can’t.”

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The regional title solidifies that this is the greatest team in Indiana baseball history. These Hoosiers have a very real opportunity to get to Omaha and that very well might happen. Florida State is not an unbeatable opponent by any stretch for this team. And what will help is that, on some level everything after this is gravy for these Hoosiers. They are the first Big Ten team since 2007 to advance to a Super Regional. They have made the splash the Big Ten needed them to make and that they had never made before. They will be able to go out to Tallahassee and just play like they did all week after Chad Clark’s Friday night walkoff home run calmed their nerves. Yes, this team can get to Omaha, but it has already authored a landmark season whether it does or not.

WHO SAID WHAT: ASAP Sports rocks.

An Interview With:
INDIANA
COACH SMITH: Well, I guess the word
that comes to mind, really in general, and not just
talking about this regional specifically is the word
progress.
I’m very pleased, certainly with — it seems
like everything, every game or every step we take,
we are making history for Indiana baseball. It’s
fun. That was certainly a memorable evening for
us. I know the players and when we sit back and
at the end of the day we start thinking about this,
we’ll be — you know, we’ll probably put it in context.
But what I want to point out — excuse me,
and I don’t know if you paid attention, was the
demeanor of this team, and you didn’t see a dog
pile. And the reason you didn’t see a dog pile, it
wasn’t because the coaches said, we are not going
to have a dog pile; it’s because these guys believe,
and I keep saying, it they have a lot of baseball left
to play.
So I like our mentality right now. I think
that was a well-played baseball game against a
quality opponent.
You don’t win 47 baseball
games if you’re not good. So I thought Austin
Peay was certainly a challenge for us.
But like we have all year, our guys have
lived up to the challenge, and I know we are very,
very proud. But we are not finished yet in our
mind.
Q.
Seems like the last few nights
against Austin Peay, momentum came down to
moments, there was the home run that Casey
took back last night and just in, the home run
you had and the big strikeout Halstead had;
how much do you guys feel like you just
harnessed momentum this weekend and
stayed consistent with it?
JUSTIN CURETON: When we play our
game, we feed off each other’s energy and
athleticism and talent. Our team, like you said, all
year has just been backing each other up, whether
someone picks
up someone defensively,
offensively. We just have each other’s backs all
year. If we keep doing that, I think we’ll do well.
WILL COURSEN-CARR: Like Justin said,
each one of our players were all confident in each
other and we know if one person is having a down
game, somebody will pick each other up and that’s
what helps us do that.
SAM TRAVIS:
Yeah, definitely believe
momentum came to our side a lot of the times, and
was good to have the home crowd here, and they
were awesome this weekend. We knew if we play
our best baseball that we are going to win, and
played good baseball this weekend and we just
have to keep it going.
Q. Justin, what happened on that play?
How did you get that? How on earth did you
pull that off?
JUSTIN CURETON: Just had a good read
on the ball and I just made the play. I’ve made
those plays before. I have a lot of confidence in
my defense and I have a lot of confidence in my
pitchers throwing strikes and it makes defense
easier when they are throwing strikes. He was
throwing strikes today and I just made the play.
Q. Second night that you start quick at
the plate; what were you guys seeing so well
off of their starter in the first inning?
SAM TRAVIS: Yeah, again, just hitting our
pitch, not getting ourselves out, swinging at strikes,
swinging at pitches that we can handle. More
importantly, swinging the bat as well as we can
handle and laying off the off-speed early in the
count and trying to hit a ball hard and good things
are going to happen.
Q. Will, gutsy performance tonight.
Coach has talked about not being freshmen
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anymore. Just in what ways do you think you
grew up tonight?
WILL COURSEN-CARR: Well, honestly, I
don’t think I was as sharp as I could have been.
Felt like I left a ton of walks out there. But just
making sure, grinding it out, every pitch that — I
was really confident in my BP fastball which Coach
Neal was calling a lot. Like when I was trying to
throw it too hard, I was getting hit and that was my
fault. The BP fastball really helped me to have
success.
Q. Justin, at what point did you realize
you were going to have to go over the wall, and
had you made a play like that in practice? At
what point did you know to really get up high?
JUSTIN CURETON:
Playing at home
really helped. Like you said, in practice, we take a
lot of home field BPs and I get a lot of reads. I’ve
had that play before and my teammates also
helped me and they told me where the track was.
And when I hear that, I start looking for the wall,
and then let my athleticism take over.
Q. You start the second with a walk
and a base hit and a couple changeups striking
out; kind of got you in a groove then? No
doubt the play to Justin helped out there in the
second inning also.
WILL COURSEN-CARR: Yeah, with that
team, they are really good — they were laying off
fastballs a lot, so I had to get my changeup going.
The first inning I was leaving it up super high. But
once I got going that second inning, it was all right,
and then just an unbelievable play by Justin was
awesome. I knew it was gone. I was sure it was
gone, put my hands on my knees, and made a
play.
Q. Will, what was it like to be on the
mound
in
the
Big
Ten
tournament
championship game and to be on the mound
again tonight? Was there anything that you
took from that experience last weekend that
maybe helped you out a little bit tonight?
WILL COURSEN-CARR: Yeah, it’s been a
progress this entire season getting my confidence
up. I mean, the Big Ten championship game,
brought my confidence up a lot. I knew I could get
the job done here.
Q. Justin, as a senior, at what point do
you really sit back and soak in this season with
the new stadium, 46 wins, Big Ten titles, a guy
that’s in the front row of the whole process of
getting this team together?
JUSTIN CURETON: Which it’s all said
and done, which is not any time soon, yeah, it’s
been an extraordinary year, extraordinary guys,
extraordinary coaching staff, and just enjoying it so
far and like I said, we are not done yet.
Q.
Similar question to one I asked
earlier: But how big have the moments been?
Seems like your team has seized moments
when it had it, from the comeback Friday to
some of the big defensive plays the last few
nights.
COACH SMITH: We were sitting here a
couple nights ago, and it was like, as we said,
finally we can play baseball, because that was
such an emotional win on Friday.
But to me, I’ve been watching a lot of
baseball on TV. I’ve watched a lot of games as a
player. I don’t know that I’ve seen a catch like that.
I’ve already started referring to it as “the catch” and
I don’t think people can appreciate how difficult that
defensive play was. Because to me, that was the
ballgame tonight.
We jump out to a three-run lead and if that
ball goes over, I think it’s going to be a three-run
homer, right? On our field no, there’s no warning
track and there’s no difference, Justin could not tell
the difference in his feet. On a typical warning
track, there’s a change in surface.
So that was — it was a great catch
because it got over the wall. It’s an even greater
catch in any mind because it was just a fearless
effort. At that point he was selling himself out, and
as you said, I thought we capitalized on
momentum and there were a couple double plays
even in that game that changed. I thought the
strikeout by Harrison was huge, and then of course
Halstead coming in and getting the other punch
with bases loaded.
But when you’re talking about momentum,
to me you have a crowd to do that, and I thought it
was spectacular, the people of Bloomington and
fans that came in from around the state and flew in
from California; there were people from Florida.
As I said earlier, I think this is a step
forward for our program. I’m excited that we get to
extend the season. But I think you can hear it in
the guys voices right here, the mind-set is, we
have got a lot of baseball to play, but hopefully we
can have some more of that momentum moving
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forward.
Q. What all went into bringing Halstead
on in that situation? Worked out, his biggest
moment, but the thought process there and
how huge was he?
COACH SMITH: I’ll be honest, it wasn’t
my idea. Coach Neal is very good, very astute.
You talk about knowing your personnel, and you’re
probably one of those secret Tweeters that Tweets
me and second guesses all my calls and stuff — I
read all the Tweets and people second guessing.
And one of my biggest things is: You’ve
got to know your personnel. Before that inning
started, Luke went down there and Ty says to me:
Let’s make sure we have Halstead ready for a
close situation in this inning, which was great.
Because he came in, walked a guy, got the big
strikeout.
But at that point, I felt like and we felt like,
the game at that point was going to be decided in
that inning.
So rather than make the close
situation tonight, we felt it was there. But all credit
goes to Coach Neal, because he had Ryan hot,
anticipating that particular situation.
So that was already formulated but I wish I
could take credit for that one; can’t.
Q.
Will talked about, I guess he
characterized it as an up-and-down start for
him, but just for a freshman, I know he’s been
in some big moments this year, but what did
you think of his performance?
COACH SMITH: I’ve said it all along. To
me, he’s the best pitcher people haven’t seen. I
mean, you think about the starts that he had mid
year and all the people when he came out, started
the big game, the championship game in the Big
Ten tournament, everybody is like, who is this guy.
We knew he was good. It’s clear there
were probably some head scratching, even the fact
that he started over — Kyle has done a
phenomenal job for us this year pitching in the
Top 3 of our rotation.
But, we felt, Will has been as good as
anybody that we’ve had as of late. So it was huge.
And he said it, he wasn’t particularly sharp, but
that’s why he’s so good. He doesn’t have to have
his best stuff and can get people out. He can
make a mistake or two and still beat people and I
think he did that tonight.
Q.
Michael Davis came up with the
bases loaded and he was the tying run and he
had two hits this tournament and each were
home
run and I
believe
each were
game-winning shots. Against Luke Harrison, I
know it was two weeks ago but Luke hung a
breaking ball and Kentucky won that game.
Harrison walks Davis, were you trying to hell
Harrison not to hang a breaking ball and be
more careful with Davis?
COACH SMITH: I wish I was that smart.
I’m not, because, you know, in this game, truthfully,
you’ve got to have a short memory. I appreciate
your question because I know where it’s going.
I wasn’t thinking about, oh my goodness,
we hang a breaking ball here.
We were all
systems go, we were going to get the guy out. My
focus has been on what Indiana is doing, quite
frankly. I wasn’t — I just learned something just
now; he’s been banging them all out.
No, we liked the matchup because of the
breaking ball. That was the plain and simple fact
of that. We were disappointed, thought we slowed
his bat down, showed him multiple breaking balls
and got to the full count and we were disappointed
that he choked the fastball there and ended up
walking there.
But maybe if I go by your theory, if we
throw a breaking ball, he might have hit a home
run out of the park, I don’t know.
No, we were disappointed because at that
point, on that walk, I think the score was, you’re
bringing the go-ahead run to the plate, if I’m not
mistaken. We were not pleased with the walk, I’ll
tell you that.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports …
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An Interview With:
AUSTIN PEAY
COACH McCLURE: Well, thanks again.
First of all, I want to congratulate Indiana and
Tracy Smith. He runs a great program, a really
classy guy. He’s a friend, and I wish him well,
super regional. They did a great job.
Our guys I thought really came out ready
to play. You know, we didn’t get off to a good start
in the first inning on the mound, but I thought we
swung the bats really, really well early in the game,
first four innings or so. We made hard out after
hard out after hard out.
You know, they made a huge defensive
play in center field and I think that was the
difference in the game tonight.
Q.
Cody, what did you see (on the
catch by Justin Cureton)?
CODY HUDSON: I thought it was going.
Made a little base running mistake. Should have
seen it over the fence before I advanced any
farther, got to second and couldn’t get back. But
he made a great play.
Q. Casey, you had to come out on the
mound after that; what was your mind-set
coming out?
CASEY DELGADO: I just wanted to come
out and throw strikes, really keep the team in it,
and try to go as far as I could.
Q. Just to put a point on that, how
much does it take out of you when you
basically have one that far over the wall and it
should by all rights be 3-3 and you don’t get
anything out of it.
CODY HUDSON: A huge one, killer for
us, and I think a big momentum boost for them and
I think that was really the difference in the game
right there.
Q.
What was sort of better for you
tonight in terms of location, or what was it that
I guess was just working for you tonight that
wasn’t earlier on last night?
CASEY DELGADO: I was able to keep
the ball down. That’s where I ran into trouble last
night. I was able to keep the ball down and it
helped set up my off-speed pitches which were
working pretty well tonight, so that was the biggest
thing I think.
Q. Coach always talks about you being
better after a bad start; what do you think
allows to you do that?
CASEY DELGADO: Kind of lights a fire
under me I guess. Gives me a little motivation to
make up for my bad outing I guess.
Q. Going back to the Valpo game, you
get another big home run, were you thinking —
MICHAEL DAVIS:
I mean, really, I
wasn’t — when I came up there, I was just trying to
get on base for the guys behind me and he just
happened to leave one up and just found the
barrel.
Q. You came up in a big situation —
what happened in that at-bat?
MICHAEL DAVIS: He kind of had it up
with the off-speed and I just tried to battle back and
get on base really. I didn’t want to make an out at
all costs. I mean, that’s all I was trying to do.
Q. Tyler pitches the last few innings,
you guys are all giving him hugs, what was that
moment like for you guys?
CASEY DELGADO: He’s been absolutely
unreal for us. He’s been fantastic. You couldn’t
have asked for a better pitcher to close out games
for us, 23 saves in a season is unheard of. I
mean, that was awesome.
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MICHAEL DAVIS: Just to reiterate what
Casey said, Tyler did a great job for us all year. I
only got to play with him for one year but it was
one of the most impressive things I’ve seen out of
a pitcher.
Q. Do you feel like if you went out the
right way; if you had to lose, you went out the
right way?
CASEY DELGADO: I think so. I think we
gave it everything we had. The ball just didn’t fall
our way today.
MICHAEL DAVIS:
I mean, hats off to
Indiana. They played great. But I mean, I still
think we could have played a better game, but you
can’t take anything away from them. They played
great and they made some huge plays.
Q. Let’s start with that play again, you
were up at third base, what did you see? Did
you think it was gone?
COACH McCLURE:
Yeah, it was
definitely going to be a home run. You know, the
wind was kind of going across at that time, so it
knocked it down a little bit. You know, had it been
one of the other days, it would have been, you
know, well gone. But it was going to be gone.
The guy came out of nowhere. He went
up and made an unbelievable catch. You know, I
mean, in my opinion, he saved the game for them.
It didn’t matter what he did the rest of the day. He
had done his job today on that play. If he went
0-for or whatever he did; as long as he made the
rest of the plays, he had done his job for today.
That’s
what
speed
does
for
you
sometimes, and you know, the kid’s a great athlete
and he plays a great center field. So you know
what do you do? It ripped our hearts out and was
a huge plus for them.
Q.
Was it reminiscent of last year’s
catch in the 1-0 game?
COACH McCLURE: I compared it to that.
I was telling Bob who is running a regional that last
year against Indiana State, we beat them 1-0 out in
Oregon in the regional, and against a left-hander, I
can’t think of his name for the life — yeah,
McNarick (ph) our centerfielder went up and took a
home run away early in the game and beat them
1-0. So it was, yeah, scary.
Q. Both coaches went to their closers
relatively early obviously. How big was that for
them and for you guys, especially when
Halstead comes in and gets that strikeout; how
much does that take out of you guys, as well?
COACH McCLURE: He did a good job.
He challenged us and you know, went at us and
did what he had to do. You know, we — that was
kind of the ballgame right there.
You know, after everything that had
happened early and we lined out a bunch of times
and stuff like that, that was really kind of the
ballgame right there, bases loaded, two hits, we’re
right there. I think it’s 4-1 at the time and two hits,
we’re right there, that’s all we needed.
But did a great job. Did a great job. Threw
strikes. Did what he had to do.
Q.
Talk us through the decision to
bring Delgado in the second inning; was there
a conversation based on how he felt from last
night or what went into the decision-making
process?
COACH McCLURE: You know, I thought
about starting him and we got him out of the game
last night, he wasn’t throwing well anyway. But we
went ahead and got him out as quick as we did
and didn’t give him any more chance because we
thought, you know, if we can push this thing and
get back in this thing somehow and get to the
championship, we could bring him back.
You know, I thought about starting him and
maybe second guessing myself, I should have.
We wanted to try to get one or two innings out of
Corey and bring him; and we thought maybe that
could get us to six and we could hand it over to our
bullpen which has done a great job this year. But
unfortunately we gave up the three runs in the first,
but you’ve got to give them credit for that. We hit
the ball hard.
You know, I talked about it last night. You
didn’t see Delgado the real guy; tonight you saw
him just minus a little bit of freshness. But you
know, the kid can really pitch. He’s got a heart the
size of this room, and he really battles.
Q. Cody had some big hits, and Casey
and Tyler both gave you big performances;
how special is it to see the four seniors like
that?
COACH McCLURE: It’s great. You know,
any time you have seniors, you spend a lot of time
with them and you want them to do well and they
have been very, very — I mean, every one of them
was a big part of our program, and that’s a neat
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thing. We didn’t have many. We only had four.
But they were all huge throughout their careers
here. I mean, huge, huge, huge.
You know, I think they will all play at the
next level. I don’t think they are done playing
baseball yet. Just they are for me. You hate to
see them go, but you know, I guess the time has
come. But I’ll tell you what: They have been a part
of some unbelievable things. They have been to
three regionals in a row, and they have taken our
program to a new level. Really proud of them

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