TERRE HAUTE —
Forty-eight teams had been chosen for the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show and things were getting antsy in the Indiana State clubhouse on Monday.
Pensive Sycamores, some wearing rally caps for good mojo, looked on as fellow bubble teams College of Charleston and Michigan State punched their tickets into the 64-team NCAA field. The wait wouldn’t be long for the Sycamores to experience ecstasy or devastation.
As the Oregon Regional was about to be announced on the telecast, one of the Sycamores’ players broke the silence and said, “send us to Oregon.”
No pre-NCAA Tournament projection had the Sycamores going to Oregon. Not a single one.
The NCAA Tournament selection committee, however, did.
After five tense days on the NCAA Tournament bubble, ISU got sweet relief, and received an at-large bid to the NCAA baseball tournament.
The Sycamores — seeded third in the four-team regional — will play second-seeded Cal State-Fullerton at 5 p.m. Friday at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. Top-seed Oregon hosts fourth-seeded Austin Peay in Friday’s nightcap.
ISU is in the tournament for the first time since 1995 and it is just the second at-large baseball bid in team history, the other came in 1987. It is the first at-large bid for any ISU team since men’s basketball received was selected to participate in the 2000 Tournament.
“The more and more we kept watching it we were getting nervous, but our name popped up. It was one of the best feelings ever. We had a great season. We knew we were deserving of it and we knew if we got the chance to go we’d make some noise,” ISU catcher Jeremy Lucas said.
The Sycamores watched the selection show behind closed doors, but their jubilant post-selection celebration was captured on video and is currently on Youtube. Selection to the tournament was a load off the Sycamores’ shoulders as they nervously awaited their fate after an unexpectedly quick exit from the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
“It is absolutely unbelievable. Words can’t describe it. We thought we’d be in that Gary Regional, which was about to be announced, then we find out we’re going to Oregon? None of us were expecting it. It was a swarm of emotion,” ISU senior first baseman Jon Hedges said.
While the Sycamores were cautiously confident the NCAA Tournament would be their destination, the site came as a surprise. Every tournament projection had ISU slotted in the Purdue Regional, which will take place in Gary.
“That was crazy. I think our name was on the screen for about three seconds before we realized it. It was an amazing feeling,” ISU senior left fielder Kyle Burnam said.
It’ll be the first time ISU has played on a state bordering the Pacific Ocean since 2000. Oddly, if ISU survives the double-elimination Oregon Regional and plays in a Super Regional, it will play the Purdue Regional winner.
ISU coach Rick Heller — three years removed from having his program eliminated at Northern Iowa and now NCAA Tournament-bound — was perhaps the only person not surprised to be headed out West.
“It was a lot of excitement and relief we were in the field, but part of me didn’t think we’d get to sent to a regional with Purdue and Valpo [both of whom are playing in Gary]. Traditionally, they don’t do that. A small part of me thought we’d go somewhere. The Valley gets sent out West a lot, so it wasn’t a total surprise,” Heller said.
ISU was one of three MVC teams to make the field — Missouri State and Creighton were the others — the league’s highest tally since 2000. ISU was very much on the bubble for selection to the tournament. NCAA selection committee chairman Kyle Kallander said during the Selection Show that ISU was one of the last teams included in the field.
While ISU (41-17) was jubilant to make the field, the Oregon Regional itself is daunting.
Fullerton (35-19) is a four-time College World Series champion, most recently in 2004. The Titans were considered to have an outside shot at hosting a regional themselves and their RPI was at 20 as of Monday.
The Titans’ pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.09. Dylan Floro (10-3, 2.52), Graham Wiest (5-5, 2.78) and Kenny Mathews (6-2, 3.68) lead the way for the Big West Conference champions.
One man who is very familiar with the Titans is ISU volunteer assistant coach Ronnie Prettyman. The son of ISU Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman, the younger Prettyman was the third baseman on the Titans’ 2004 championship team. He scored the winning run for the Titans in the clinching CWS game against Texas.
“These guys have worked hard and committed to getting the job done everyday. I can’t say enough about how grateful to give me a chance to face off against two of my former coaches,” Ronnie Prettyman said.
Oregon (42-17) is seeded fifth nationally and is coached by George Horton, Prettyman’s former coach at Fullerton. The Ducks revived their program in 2009 after baseball had been dropped at Oregon after the 1981 season, so their rise to national prominence was rapid. Oregon finished runner-up in the powerful Pac-12 Conference.
Austin Peay (38-22) won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and were regular season co-champions. ISU and Austin Peay have played frequently and ISU has a 22-14 series lead over the Governors. Austin Peay won the most recent meeting in 2010.
The games at the Oregon Regional will not be telecast. It is not known at press time whether the games will be streamed online.
Video of ISU’s Selection Show celebration is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjWby5qW7z0
Friday (all times EDT)
Game 1 — No. 3 Indiana State (41-17) vs. No. 2 Cal-State Fullerton (35-19), 5 p.m.
Game 2 — No. 4 Austin Peay (38-22) vs. No. 1 Oregon (42-17), 9 p.m.
Game 3 — Friday losers, 5 p.m.
Game 4 — Friday winners, 9 p.m.
Game 5 — Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 3 p.m.
Game 6 — Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 7 p.m.
Game 7 — Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 9 p.m.*
Sycamores play Cal-State Fullerton on Friday
TERRE HAUTE —
Forty-eight teams had been chosen for the NCAA Baseball Tournament Selection Show and things were getting antsy in the Indiana State clubhouse on Monday.
- Indiana State University
Sycamores bow out of MVC Tournament
Indiana State’s baseball was out of pitching, and after a loss to Wichita State on Thursday, the Sycamores were out of second-chances too at the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament. What the Sycamores weren’t out of was heart, guts and clutch performances from some unlikely sources. But in the end, Friday’s elimination game rematch against the Shockers was a sampling of ISU’s season overall — the Sycamores were out of luck.
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Indiana State’s baseball team rode a wild ride of emotion on Thursday.
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Indiana State’s baseball victory over Alcorn State on Friday would take on more meaning Saturday if the Sycamores could build momentum and pick up on the good work they did in Friday’s ninth-inning rally.
The Sycamores were aggressive from the opening inning at the plate and starting pitcher Devin Moore gave them eight valuable and effective innings on the mound as ISU defeated Alcorn State 14-2 at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a really good experience for everybody. It felt great to finally come out here and put some things together. It’s also really nice when your offense puts a lot of runs on the board,” Moore said.
Moore’s eight innings of work were as valuable as gold to an ISU team that is short on quality arms due to injury and ineffectiveness. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and one of the two runs he conceded was unearned.
ISU earns badly-needed win
Alcorn State’s baseball team might be ranked in the bottom 10 in RPI and Indiana State might have never lost to a Southwestern Athletic Conference team. So it wouldn’t appear that a quality win was in the offing when Alcorn State visited Bob Warn Field on Friday.
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ISU pole vault tradition continues with help from its author
Pole vault is track and field for the adrenaline junkie, Indiana State senior Nicole Hope proclaimed during a recent practice at Marks Field.
To catapult oneself about 14 feet into the air with a large $500 fiberglass pole on a daily basis is a risky endeavor.
“We have to be fearless. You can’t be afraid at all,” said Hope, who has also catapulted herself into the NCAA’s elite in the event, ranking 15th in the NCAA with her leap of 13-feet, 9 1/4.
Lansing looking for more home games for next fall
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is looking for a few good games.
Home games that is.
The Sycamores have filled in most of the blanks in their nonconference schedule, but as ever, ISU coach Greg Lansing would like to visit the friendly confines of Hulman Center a bit more often.
ISU baseball gets back into rhythm with victory
Baseball is a rhythm game. With contests every day or five times a week in the case of many college programs, you have the chance to build on success or wallow in a slump.
Mother Nature took that rhythm away from Indiana State’s team last week. After a 7-1 loss to Indiana on April 24, ISU was supposed to play a three-game series at Tennessee-Martin, but it was wiped out by rain.
So the rhythm was disturbed, but perhaps that wasn’t a bad thing.
ISU was in a five-game losing streak before its unintended vacation and the Sycamores made a move in the right direction Wednesday with a 7-0 win over DePauw at Bob Warn Field.
“It was a disappointing weekend. We went all the way down to Tennessee and didn’t get to play. We sat around in the hotel room. We came here and it was still raining. It was nice to get out and see some live pitching,” ISU center fielder Landon Curry said.
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Most of the ISU teams are still in competition with the baseball team having 13 games left of its regular-season schedule before beginning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament May 21, the softball team with just three games left of the docket this coming weekend against Southern Illinois and the track and field program with just one more meet before beginning its postseason events.
The ISU women’s golf team is the team that has ended at this time, with the group recording a sixth-place finish at the MVC championships one week ago.
Indiana State loses 2 in MVC softball
Indiana State aspired to upset Illinois State to get at least a doubleheader split in Missouri Valley Conference softball Thursday at Price Field as the Sycamores opened an eight-game season-ending homestand.
Paige Schreiner hit a two-run blast over the left-field fence in the fifth inning and junior Shelby Wilson delivered a sizzling RBI triple down the right-field line in the sixth as ISU ended the day playing well against the league’s highest-scoring offense.
The result was still a 5-3 loss to the Redbirds (26-18, 11-6 Missouri Valley Conference) as freshman Halle Humphrey gave up four runs in the first two innings. Humphrey, called upon to pitch the opener as well — she’s the only full-time pitcher remaining on the team — gave up six runs and eight hits as the Sycamores dropped a 6-1 game to start the day.
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It seemed so far-fetched.
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Creighton sweep puts ISU in thick of things
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Second City in the Valley: Loyola joins the MVC
For the first time in its history, the Missouri Valley Conference will have a home in the Second City.
The Chicago Tribune confirmed Saturday via a Loyola University source that the Ramblers will replace Creighton as the MVC’s 10th team. Loyola — a member of the Horizon League — will join the MVC effective July 1.
Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman — who was part of the MVC search committee that scouted potential replacements for Creighton — confirmed Sunday that the Ramblers were in the MVC loop.
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By his own estimation, Indiana State baseball coach Rick Heller has been involved in close to 2,000 baseball games. If anyone has seen it all on the field, he’d be as good a candidate as any.
Devin Moore pitches gem in 6-1 victory over Creighton
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