Indiana holds off Florida State 10-9 in Game 1 of Super Regionals

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana scored 10 runs thanks to a pair of four-run innings and held on for a 10-9 win over Florida State in a 4-hour, 16-minute thriller in Game 1 of the best-of-three Super Regionals in front of 4,350 at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.

With the win, the Hoosiers are one victory away from their first College World Series and the first every by a Big Ten team since Michigan in 1984.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber established that he is the best hitter in this series with two critical hits and four RBI. The first – a two-run bomb that reached the street beyond the 30-foot right field wall for a two-run shot — woke the Hoosiers up after three dominant innings by Florida State right-hander Luke Weaver. Shortstop Michael Basil and left fielder Casey Smith later drove in runs in the inning with a double and a single respectively to give the Hoosiers a 4-0 lead. The second hit by Schwarber gave the Hoosiers the lead back after they had fallen behind. With the bases loaded in the seventh, he chopped a single through the left side of the infield to make it 7-6. He later scored on a wild pitch that made it 9-6. Every one of those runs were critical.

IU first baseman Sam Travis, Basil, third baseman Dustin DeMuth and Smith all drove in runs. Designated hitter Scott Donley scored two.

The Hoosiers struggled at the mound, and Will Coursen-Carr was a part of that, but when his back was at the wall, he got two major outs. He gave up an RBI single to left fielder D.J. Stewart and threw a wild pitch that put runners on second and third. After that, however, he got Florida State catcher Stephen McGee to hit a short flyout to center field that wasn’t deep enough to get a run home.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Once Schwarber got to Weaver once, the Indiana offense just didn’t quit, and it was critical for the Hoosiers to establish that sort of identity in this series. If there was a major advantage Indiana had in this series, it’s that the Hoosiers hadn’t seen many pitchers like Weaver and that Weaver was coming off his best outing as a college pitcher and might be in the middle of the sort of leap that could make him a top-round draft pick a year from now. He looked like he might be pitching on that level early and when Schwarber’s homer wiped off that veneer of invincibility, Weaver appeared to lose confidence and the Hoosiers appeared to gain in a huge wave.

Indiana did not play its best all-around game Saturday by any means. The Hoosiers were sloppy defensively with three errors, including the particularly embarrassing drop by Cureton. The pitching was problematic, with Joey DeNato losing the strike zone after three innings. Indiana had to use six pitchers to get through the game and that could be an issue in Sunday’s Game 2.

But Indiana established that it has the better offense in this series, that the Hoosiers are strong 1-9 and that they can rally back from any deficit and respond to any blown deficit.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Game 1 is crucial in a best-of-anything. In a best of three, it’s monumental. Florida State has no margin for error, and the Seminoles have already played their ace. Now, Scott Sitz is an extremely tough competitor and his ERA is better than Weaver’s so scoring on him isn’t easy. But when Weaver is on, he can hit the unhittable level. Sitz isn’t that sort of pitcher.

Conversely, while Aaron Slegers has become Indiana’s ace, he isn’t unhittable either and the Seminoles are actually more comfortable against hard-throwing right-handers like Slegers than they are against soft-throwing lefties like DeNato. So they have every reason to feel confident that they can pull off Game 2 and stay alive. But Indiana comes out of Saturday’s game knowing for sure that it can beat Florida State, and having two chances to do it for a run to Omaha.

One comment

  1. Monumental is right. We can’t take anything for granted, but stealing game 1 with our All-American ace yet to throw gives us a huge advantage. As long as we don’t get the tight cheeks, we’re obviously in great position for Omaha.

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