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Unbeaten Coursen-Carr delivers another IU title

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Hoosiers advance to first College World Series

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 1:05 pm

Will Coursen-Carr isn't perfect, although his pitching record is. The former South Side standout didn't get the final two outs of Indiana's history making baseball victory (those went to standout reliever Ryan Halstead), but don't think he'll lose sleep over that.

Indiana (48-14) is going where no Cream 'n Crimson team has gone before -- the College World Series -- and Coursen-Carr, just as he was for the Big Ten tourney and the NCAA regional, was the winning pitcher.

On Sunday he got the decision in IU's 11-6 victory over host Florida State. In 4.0 innings of relief for starter and Big Ten pitcher of the year Aaron Slegers, Coursen-Carr (5-0) gave two hits and one earned run.

Yes, he hit a couple of batters in the fifth inning which helped the Seminoles score three runs to tie the score at 5-5. But he settled down after that as Hoosier hitters took over. Coursen-Carr struck out three and walked three.

“It was awesome,” Coursen-Carr said in the post-game press conference. “When the score was 5-5, I knew that I had to finish it from there.”

Indiana opens this weekend against Louisville (51-12) in Omaha, Neb., in the eight-team, double-elimination tourney. The event could take 11 days to finish.

“This is what you dream about as a little kid,” first baseman Sam Travis said. “Now it feels like you are living in the dream.”

Louisville advanced by sweeping Vanderbilt, the No. 2 overall seed. The Cardinals lost two of three games to IU during the regular season. They are in the College World Series for the first time since 2007.

The Hoosiers are the first Big Ten team to reach the College World Series since Michigan, with Barry Larkin, did it in 1984.

They are 5-0 in NCAA tourney play this season, impressive considering that, before this season, they had won just one NCAA tourney game in their 100-plus-year history.

“We're thrilled and happy,” IU coach Tracy Smith said in the post-game press conference “This is uncharted territory for us, but we feel like we've got a lot of work left to do.”

Indiana jumped to a 4-0 first-inning lead, survived a Florida State rally that knocked out starter Slegers, and took advantage of home runs by Scott Donley and Sam Travis, and a two-run triple by Justin Cureton to upset the favored Seminoles, who have made the College World Series 15 times in their history, although they've never won it.

“We knew it wasn't going to be easy,” Smith said. “I was nervous even with a six-run lead in the ninth inning. I don't think we'll face an environment like this the rest of the way. It makes a statement that this wasn't a fluke. We're a pretty good team.”

Indiana has played the postseason knowing it represented a statement-making opportunity for the Big Ten, which has often been overlooked for NCAA tourney at-large bids in favor of SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 teams.

“I'm happy for our league,” Smith said. “People don't understand what northern schools have to go through to get to this point. We're happy to carry the torch and show you can do this. That's equally important. (Northern schools ) do play good baseball. We do sometimes start a little slow for a number of factors, but we play good ball.

“I was a high school senior in 1984. I remember watching that Michigan team. It's hard to believe it's been that long.”

No one has played better in the postseason than Travis. In nine postseason games counting the Big Ten tourney and the NCAA regional, he has hit four homers and driven in 16 runs.

The Hoosiers have won six straight and 10 of their last 11 games. They've bounced back strong from a mid-April slump in which they lost four straight games, including three straight walk-off defeats at Michigan State.

“We talked to the players and told them that, as coaches, we trust you,” Smith said.

“This is a players' team. These guys believe.

“I've been coaching for close to 20 years. I could taste it, but these guys gave me confidence we could do it because they were confident.”

That confidence is shared by IU president Michael McRobbie. In a statement he said, “There's more work to be done starting next weekend in Omaha. I, and IU fans everywhere, will be rooting on the Hoosiers as they swing for a national championship.”

IU basketball coach Tom Crean, who needed baseball players to help fill out the roster on his first Hoosier team because, tweeted on Sunday that, “Proud to say at Indiana WE ARE A BASEBALL SCHOOL!!! Our Team is Rolling! Congratulations to all that make up Indiana Baseball.”

This is the latest in a strong athletic season for Indiana. The men's soccer team won the national championship and the basketball squad was ranked No. 1 for 10 weeks and reached the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.