College Baseball

Sycamores punch ticket to NCAA Super Regional


TERRE HAUTE — As they say down in Terre Haute, it was a part in Terradise all weekend long for Indiana State Baseball and their fans. After getting to host the NCAA Regional for the first time in school history, on Friday, ISU made even more history on Saturday and Sunday. Friday they had to come from behind to defeat Wright State 6-5 on Friday, the host Sycamores rallied yet again on Saturday against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth, fans were sent into a frenzy after ISU scored five runs to take a 7-4 lead and hold on for the win.

After Iowa eliminated North Carolina in a 13-inning marathon on Sunday afternoon, they had to turn around just two hours later and play the same Sycamore team that bested them the night before. ISU needed just a single win to clinch a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals. With the game going back and forth and the host Sycamores holding a slim 8-7 lead, senior right-fielder Keegan Watson launched a mammoth three-run home run to give ISU an 11-7 lead and more importantly some much needed breathing room. Iowa finally ran out of steam and the Indiana State Sycamores celebrated with their fans in the 11-8 win as ISU is moving on to their first NCAA Super Regional in school history.

“I told these guys, and you guys have heard me say, there are groups that come along that change programs,” ISU coach Mitch Hannahs said. “They’re just, they’re a special group, they’re very close, they’re connected,they do things the right way. And they work really hard to get better. And they’re very humble. And people want to cheer for groups like that. And I think I got so many calls throughout the season, I got texts from other coaches, you know, colleagues that mentioned how much they like watching our club play. And, you know, that’s a testament to these young men, the way they’ve gone about it all year. I really felt like that’s one of the reasons you know, these fans showed up, but they’ve watched these guys, whether it be on TV or hearing about it, run through walls all season long. And dive in and do whatever it took, standing and get hit by a pitch, whatever it took to win a game, this group has done an amazing, they have truly changed the trajectory of our program.”

With both teams being down deep into their bullpens both offenses were able to combine for 23 hits. Iowa actually out-hit the Sycamores 13-10 but what plagued the Hawkeyes was their pitchers in-ability to have command. In the season-ending loss Iowa tied an NCAA single game record with 10 hit batsman. Throw in six more walks and that adds up 16 free base-runners that Indiana State was able to have. The host Sycamores scored in six straight innings from the second to the seventh but were never able to pull away until the big blast by Watson.

“Offensively, I think our team did a wonderful job of seeing baseballs tonight,” Watson said. “Obviously, their pitching staff and our pitching staff struggled, just kind of blow for blow-for-blow, punch-for-punch the whole game. And like you said, we are one hit away the whole game. I don’t knowhow many free bases they gave us. And we just couldn’t capitalize on it to save our lives. But you know, credit to our offense for hanging in there. And sticking with the mistakes that they made as a pitching stuff on the other side.””

Indiana State continues their historic season and now improves to 45-15 on the year. ISU during this season is no stranger to playing power five conference foes. They’ve seen the likes of Vanderbilt, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois, Kentucky, Miami, and even this Iowa team already before this season. Hannahs noted how while his teams have played some tough competition, they really haven’t’ seen a test like this before.

“You know, we’ve won some power five games and a lot of those are midweek games,” Hannahs said. I don’t want to sit up here and make it sound like we’ve just dominated Power Five teams. We haven’t seen the weekend rotation, this was a good test. I mean, we had to beat [Brody] Brecht last night, it’s different playing against these bigger programs and they have their guys on the mound. You play a midweek game, obviously, whether it’s Vanderbilt or anybody else, they’re throwing some guys that haven’t gotten a ton of work if they don’t have four starters established, and so we’re fine sitting right here in our little crevice. Certainly not going to call out any Power Fives.”

After using four previous pitchers, the Sycamores turned to sophomore Simon Gregeron in the sixth inning.  After allowing a lead-off home run, Gregerson was lights out when ISU needed him most. In 3.1 innings that home run was the only hit he allowed as he went on to strike out six, including the final two of the game to seal the Regional title.

“Definitely having our guys on the background, they gave me all the inspiration that I really needed,” Gregerson said. “You know, you can tell looking back at your guys in the field, and they’re gonna do everything they can to kind of keep you going and keep you squared away. And that was definitely everything I needed.”

Indiana State still has a chance to not have played their last home game at Bob Warn field. The Super Regionals which take place this upcoming weekend will l either be against TCU or Arkansas. Arkansas is the higher overall seed than the Sycamores so ISU would have to travel to Fayetteville if the Razorbacks were to win. If the Horned Frogs are the winners then there is a very likely possibility that ISU would host yet again.

The Super Regional is a best two out of three with the winner punching their ticket to the College Baseball World Series in Omaha, NE.


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