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Coursen-Carr pitches IU to regional title

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For more on Indiana athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Hoosiers advance to play Florida State

Monday, June 3, 2013 - 2:08 am

BLOOMINGTON -- Baseball history left Indiana Hoosiers wanting more.

So bring on Florida State. Bring on this weekend's Super Regional that could lead to a College World Series that could lead to …

Hold that thought.

Sunday night's 6-1 NCAA Regional victory over Austin Peay pushed the Hoosiers into uncharted territory, but not unbridled celebration.

That is not their way. Too much unfinished business remains.

“The word that comes to mind is progress,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “I'm pleased with every step we take. We're making history for Indiana baseball. It's fun. It's a memorable evening.

“But if you'd seen the demeanor of this team, you didn't see a dog pile at the end. It wasn't because the coaches said no dog pile. It was because these guys believe they have a lot of baseball left to play.

“I like our mentality. Austin Peay was a challenge for us. Our guys lived up to the challenge. We're proud, but we're not finished.”

Pride included going 3-0 in the regional. That's two more NCAA tourney victories than the Hoosiers had generated in the program's previous 100-plus-year history.

IU (46-14) will head to Florida this weekend for the Super Regional. Seventh-seed Florida State (47-13) earned the hosting opportunity -- it's a best-out-of-three-game format -- by winning its regional title Sunday night. The Seminoles also went 3-0 in their regional.

The series will start either Friday or Saturday. That will be determined after tonight's regional games.

Regional victory came in front of a record crowd of 3,214 at Bart Kaufman Field. It came from Will Coursen-Carr pitching beyond his freshman youth – again.

It came from center fielder Justin Cureton's Sportscenter highlight catch, from catcher Kyle Schwarber's 17th home run, a first-inning shot that gave IU a lead it never lost, from closer Ryan Halstead squashing Austin Peay comeback hopes with shutdown ruthlessness.

Coursen-Carr handled his NCAA tourney moment in solid fashion, just as he had a week earlier in pitching IU to a Big Ten tourney title. The former South Side standout wasn't Nolan Ryan dominant, but he didn't have to be. Not with Cureton playing like the second coming of Willie Mays to save three runs. Not with an unorthodox 1-4-3 double play after Coursen-Carr caught a line drive up the middle.

Smith kept Coursen-Carr on track with a few mound visits before pulling him with one out in the sixth and the bases loaded. Coursen-Carr allowed five hits and one run. He struck out three and walked four while improving his record to 4-0.

“I don't think I was as sharp as I could have been,” Coursen-Carr said. “I felt I had a ton of walks. I was grinding out every pitch.

“There has been a progress in getting my confidence up. I knew I could get the job done.”

So did Smith, who started Coursen-Carr ahead of veteran Kyle Hart.

“He's the best pitcher people haven't seen,” Smith said, a reference to the fact Coursen-Carr pitched just a third of an inning in Big Ten regular season play. “We knew he was good. I sure some heads were scratching about starting him over Kyle Hart. We felt Will has been as good as anybody we've had as of late. He wasn't sharp, but that's why he's so good. He doesn't have his best stuff and still gets people out.”

Cureton got the biggest out in the second inning. He climbed the center field fence to rob P.J. Torres of a three-run homer, then threw back to the infield in time to double up Cody Hudson at first base and end the inning.

“I had a good bead on the ball and just made the play,” Cureton said. “I let my athleticism take over out there.”

It was a game changer, Austin Peay coach Gary McClure said.

“It was going to be a home run. The wind knocked it down a little bit, but the guy (Cureton) came out of nowhere. It was an unbelievable catch. He saved the game for them. It didn't matter what he did the rest of the game he'd done his job. That's what speed does for you. He plays a great center field. It ripped our hearts out and was a huge plus for them.”

Added Coursen-Carr: “It was an unbelievable play by Justin. I was sure it was gone. He made the play.”

The Hoosiers rocked Austin Peay starter Kevin Corey right away. Schwarber homered for a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Michael Basil and left fielder Casey Smith followed with run-scoring singles to make it 3-0.

That was enough for McClure to replace Corey to start the second inning with Casey Delgado, who had been rocked by the Hoosiers the previous night. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and gave up just one run.

IU added a run in the bottom of the fifth on third baseman Dustin DeMuth's run-scoring double for a 4-0 lead.

Austin Peay got a sixth- inning run. IU countered with two sixth-inning runs off an error by Governors shortstop Reed Harper.

The Governors (47-15), who won 17 of their final 19 games, with both losses to IU, were finished.

IU had six players on the all-tournament team: Schwarber, Travis, second baseman Chad Clark, Cureton, left fielder Casey Smith and designated hitter Scott Donley. Travis was named tourney MVP.