BLOOMINGTON – Four outs from an NCAA Bloomington Regional championship, the Indiana baseball team could only watch as Stanford pinch-hitter Wayne Taylor postponed the nationally fourth-seeded Hoosiers’ party for at least another day Sunday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
Trailing the Hoosiers by two with two outs in the top of the eighth, the Cardinal got a dramatic three-run homer from Taylor over the center-field fence off reliever Jake Kelzer, and Stanford added three more in the ninth for a 10-7 victory against this regional’s No. 1 seed.
Indiana (44-14) and the regional’s No. 3 seed Stanford (33-24) play at 5:30 p.m. today to determine who will advance to this weekend’s Super Regional. Stanford stayed alive earlier Sunday with a 12-4 victory over Youngstown State.
Taylor said he anticipated Kelzer’s best, which is the reliever’s slider.
That slider is a pretty good pitch, Taylor said. I drove a good pitch and got the barrel on it. I thought it was a slider. It was a turning point, but the clutch thing was scoring three more in the ninth. That was the biggest point in the game too.
I was fortunate. I think it turned out to be a good matchup for me. I feel fortunate that coach has confidence in me in those situations.
Stanford, which was beaten by IU 4-2 on Saturday night, led 7-6 entering the ninth and added three insurance runs with run-scoring hits from Alex Blandino, Austin Slater and Zach Hoffpauir.
Indiana loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but could score only once.
It’s baseball, and things like that are going to happen, said IU first baseman Sam Travis, who was 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI as the Hoosiers grabbed a 5-2 after four innings. We’ve done the very same thing to plenty of teams this season.
Our pitchers have done a great job all year, but sometimes, they are going to get hit. We have to come back tomorrow and get it done.
IU catcher Kyle Schwarber had the perfect view of Taylor’s home run and said the left-handed-hitting pinch hitter belted a good pitch.
The guy did a really good job of getting the barrel to it, Schwarber said. He kind of made us pay for it, but that is baseball.
Sam and I have hit some pretty good pitches just like that this season, so we can bounce back and be ready.
IU coach Tracy Smith used five pitchers to try and contain Stanford, but relievers Luke Harrison and Kelzer surrendered seven hits and six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
It was a heck of a ball game, and sometimes it goes in your favor, and sometimes it doesn’t, Smith said. We left a couple of pitches up, and their hitters did what they were supposed to do. They made us pay for it. We still have our destiny in our hands and are looking forward to playing (today).
Stanford coach Mark Marquess, whose Cardinal snapped IU’s eight-game winning streak, was thrilled to get six runs in the final two innings against a nationally seeded opponent.
We came back and got some big hits, Marquess said. Wayne Taylor obviously put us over the top. He has been a very productive guy.
That obviously was a huge at-bat.