BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University has flexed its baseball muscles in an otherwise unproductive Big Ten Conference. The Hoosiers have won the regular season and conference tournament championships in back-to-back seasons with only Nebraska and Illinois providing any competition. Indiana is one of the few teams that benefits from a weak conference schedule and the 42 wins is hard to resist when doling out regional site invitations.
The first game of the regional will be on Friday at 2 p.m. ET and will pit No. 2 Indiana State against No. 3 seed Stanford. Indiana will face No. 4 seed Youngstown State at 7 p.m. ET. The losers bracket game will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the winner’s bracket game at 6 p.m. The final game will be Sunday at 6 p.m. ET (Monday at 5:30 p.m., if necessary.)
NCAA Baseball Regional Preview – Bloomington
The early season was not kind to Indiana baseball, who was fresh off a College World Series appearance. The Hoosiers were 2-5 after losing three of four to Texas Tech to kick off the season. They then traveled to Arizona and lost two of three to Pac-12 teams in the Surprise Tournament.
The Hoosiers would finally right the ship entering conference play and ripped through conference opponents with a 21-3 record. Due to the large amount of teams in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers would not have to face Nebraska in the regular season but downed the Huskers in the Conference Title Game 8-4.
This will be Indiana’s fourth trip to the postseason and the third time in six years. The Hoosiers were a regional host last year and had little trouble with Valparaiso and Austin Peay before traveling to Tallahassee to take on No. 7 national seed Florida State. The Hoosiers would walk away with the College World Series berth dominating the Seminoles in consecutive games. Indiana’s record in Omaha now stands at 1-2 after losing twice in the second round to Mississippi State and Oregon State.
Indiana State (35-16)
The Sycamores, out of the Missouri Valley Conference finished tied for second place after the regular season with Dallas Baptist University, earning both schools a postseason invitation. The teams were invited on the strength of their non-conference play with regular season conference champion Evansville being shut out.
The Sycamores dropped their season opener to Auburn but went on to win their next 12 games and 16 of their first 20 games including a 12-8 win over cross-state rival Indiana. The squad would finish 14-7 in conference play and drop the first two games of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
The Sycamores return to the postseason after missing last season making their ninth appearance in program history. Indiana State has traveled to Omaha on one occasion, losing two straight in 1986.
One of the few surprise selections to the postseason after finishing in fifth place in the Pac-12 Conference. The ultra-competitive conference placed five of 11 teams. The Cardinal finished a single game ahead of USC, and the Trojans just missed the cut as one of the first four out. Stanford struggled early in the season, dropping series to Rice and Texas along with being swept by Vanderbilt. Stanford was 7-8 heading into conference play, and it would get no easier for the nerds on the farm.
After being swept by Oregon State and losing series to USC, Washington and California, the Cardinal turned on the overdrive down the final stretch winning 11 of its final 14 games including series wins over defending national champion UCLA, 2012 national champion, Arizona and Washington State. They would end the season with a three-game sweep of newcomer Utah.
This will be the 31st postseason for Stanford and the 16th time in the past 20 years. The Cardinal have advanced to Omaha 16 times in program history including eight appearances in the past 20 years. The Cardinal boast the fifth most College World Series games played with 50 and the ninth most College World Series finals with five. Stanford won back-to-back national championships in 1987 and 1988.
Youngstown State (16-36)
“The Cinderella story, out of nowhere..” You can hear Bill Murray’s voice from Caddyshack when thinking about Youngstown State’s baseball program. The Penguins, who finished in dead last in the Horizon League with a 6-17 conference record swept through the Conference Tournament defeating top-seeded Wright State twice along with Valparaiso and Milwaukee. Youngstown State had only won twice in the final ten games prior to the tournament and then something finally clicked for the Penguins.
This is the second time that Youngstown State has won the Horizon League Conference Championship with a losing record, accomplishing the same feat in 2004. The Penguins are looking to advance out of the regional round for the first time but will have their work cut out for them.