OMAHA – There was something familiar about a completely new experience for their program.
Yes, the big stage of the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park was a first for Indiana baseball on Saturday night when they played perhaps their biggest baseball game in program history to date, but their opponent was the exact opposite.
Three times in 2013 the Hoosiers faced off with Louisville-their foe in their series opener-and beat them twice including a 2-0 shutout in the season’s opening game.
That comfort level seemed to show in Tracy Smith’s team on Saturday night as the team continued their recent run of success on the big stage of the College World Series. With pitcher Joey DeNato leading the way on the mound the Hoosiers repeated their first game success against the Cardinals by winning their series opener 2-0 to advance to the winner’s bracket of their group.
DeNato threw a complete game shutout, scattering four hits while striking out eight Louisville batters compared to just three walks. RBI’s from Scott Donley and Michael Basil were enough to give Indiana a series-opening victory, their sixth in a row in the NCAA Tournament.
On Monday they will face Mississippi State at 8 P.M. in their second College World Series game after the Bulldogs picked up a 5-4 win over Oregon State earlier Saturday evening.
Indiana got things going even before DeNato took the mound as the Hoosier got the game’s opening tally in the first inning. After an leadoff walk and single, the Hoosiers got on the board when Donley singled into center to drive in Kyle Schwarber to make it 1-0.
After two hitless innings by DeNato the Hoosiers struck again in the third. Indiana loaded the bases for Basil who got home a run with a single to left to drive in Will Nolden to make it 2-0.
Louisville had a chance to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth when with two outs Cole Sturgeon singled to right and Sutton Whiting came around third and headed home. But Nolden got to the ball quickly and came up throwing, getting it to home plate well ahead of Whiting as Schwarber easily applied the tag to end the inning.
DeNato was never really challenged again as a runner failed to get to third for the rest of the game to complete the first shutout of his career.