Indiana’s season ends on Stanford walk-off home run

WHAT HAPPENED: Stanford shortstop Tommy Edman hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Stanford a 5-4 win over Indiana to clinch the NCAA Bloomington Regional in front of 2,725 at Bart Kaufman Field.

The Cardinal (34-24) advance to next week’s super regional where they will meet Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Hoosiers’ season ends with a 44-15 record.

The Hoosiers took a 3-0 lead in the first three innings thanks to an RBI single by right fielder Craig Dedelow in the second and a two-run home run in the third. However, after the top of the third, the rains came, beginning a two hour and 51 minute rain delay, which clearly hurt the Hoosiers. 

Senior left-hander Brian Korte had been dealing in the first three innings, but after three hours of dormancy, he allowed a single and a hit batsmen to begin his return. Right-hander Thomas Belcher allowed both of those inherited runners to score on singles by third baseman Alex Blandino and right fielder Zach Hoffpauir. He pitched his way out of jams the next two innings, but gave up a game-tying solo home run to designated hitter Dominic Jose to tie the game 3-3 in the sixth.

Indiana took the lead back in the eighth. Right fielder Will Nolden reached on an error, went to third on a single by left fielder Craig Dedelow and scored when shortstop Nick Ramos hit a bouncer over the head of pitcher Cal Quantrill. The Hoosiers failed to score with runners on first and third in the top of the ninth, however. Designated hitter Wayne Taylor then led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center. Pinch-runner Drew Jackson came in for Taylor and scored when Edman went deep on the first pitch he saw.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Edman was pesky all week and went 3-for-5 on Monday with two runs scored and two RBI. He’d only hit two home runs all season and came into the game hitting .249 for the year, but he stunned everyone by going deep in the most crucial of moments.

Stanford’s lineup had been exhausting for Indiana to deal with all weekend and remained so. Josey had his key home run, Blandino had a pair of hits and Hoffpauir also drove in a run. Taylor was a hero on Sunday night and also contributed  on Monday.

Cal Quantrill stepped in on two days rest from a masterful performance on Friday, striking out three batters in 2 1/3 gutsy innings of relief. Reliever Marcus Brakeman got through 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one run and striking out four batters.

IU catcher Kyle Schwarber had a phenomenal regional, going 10-for-17 (.with two home runs and seven RBI and finished 3-for-4 on Monday with a run scored and two RBI on the home run. Left fielder Craig Dedelow, playing in place of the injured Brad Hartong, was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and of course Ramos, after hitting into a pair of double plays, had what might have been the game-winning RBI had it not been for Edman’s home run.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Hoosiers missed a lot of opportunities, stranding 10 men on base including seven in scoring position. Scott Donley had a leadoff double in the sixth and went to third on a wild pitch and was left on base. With runners on first and second and two out in the seventh, Sam Travis popped up to the catcher. With runners on first and third in the ninth, Dustin DeMuth struck out. Travis and DeMuth, two All-Americans, combined to leave six men on base.

Stanford left seven itself, but the Hoosiers vaunted lineup is left with many reasons to kick itself, which it was doing for much of the game. After his pop up, Travis slammed his bat to the ground in disgust and DeMuth did much of the same after his strikeout. That as much as anything will haunt the Hoosiers throughout the offseason.

The rain delay hurt the Hoosiers much more than the Cardinal. Marcus Brakeman managed to maintain his velocity and sharpness throughout the delay. Brian Korte apparently did not, and was on a short leash after elbow trouble kept him out of the Big Ten Tournament. He had been excellent early, striking out three batters in the first two innings and pitching out of jams even though he allowed two runs. Thomas Belcher was mostly good as well with the exception of the home run he gave to Jose, but a few sharp innings from Korte would’ve shortened the game, and the delay simply took away a lot of Indiana’s momentum.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN: The greatest two-year stretch in Indiana baseball history ends with the Hoosiers failing to match last year’s College World Series run, watching a walk-off home run beat them in their own ballpark. It was not a shameful way to go down, as Stanford clearly proved throughout the weekend that it was much more talented than its record and No. 3 regional seed indicated. Still, Indiana had a much clearer path to Omaha this year than last year with a national seed and the opportunity to host the super regionals if they had qualified. They had four All-Americans, one of the nation’s most fearsome lineups and most dominant pitching staffs in terms of ERA.

And they will not be playing into the second weekend.

It was a heart-breaking end to a run that was far beyond the wildest dreams of the Indiana program even two years ago when the Hoosiers were still playing in Sembower Field, drawing 100 fans or fewer to most games and viewing Big Ten championships and NCAA regional berths as something of a ceiling. Last season, the Hoosiers were the first Big Ten team since 1984 to reach the College World Series. This year, they were the first Big Ten team to earn a top-eight national seed since the current tournament came into being in 1999. Going into last season, the Hoosiers hadn’t won the Big Ten regular season title outright since 1932. This group did it twice. It had never won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles in the same season until 2013, and this group did that twice.

Going forward, everything changes. All-Americans Joey DeNato and Dustin DeMuth both graduate and take with them several IU career records. Schwarber and Travis will certainly be taken in the first three rounds of this weekend’s draft. The Hoosiers will still have talent on the pitching staff with Kyle Hart, Christian Morris, Scott Effross and several others. Provided Scott Donley, Brad Hartong and Casey Rodrigue are not taken in the draft, there still will be hitters a lineup around.

Still, there will be a rebuild, which means the greatest era of Indiana baseball history is over. Two weeks short of a return to Omaha.