Florida State catcher Stephen McGee walks off the field following Sunday’s loss to Indiana in Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regionals. The Seminoles were swept by the Hoosiers and lost a home series in Tallahassee for the first time in two years.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Still riding the high of its 10-9 upset win against NCAA Super Regional host Florida State that lasted four-plus hours Saturday, Indiana returned Sunday to Dick Howser Stadium for Game 2, prepared for another grueling marathon.
Instead, the Hoosiers wasted no time landing one knockout punch after another.
Indiana, the home team for the second game of the best-of-three series, scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning off senior starter Scott Sitz, tacked on three more in the third and the fifth on a pair of home runs and then gobbled up FSU’s bullpen from there, piling up four more scores before closing the program’s first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals with an 11-6 thrashing of the No. 7 nationally seeded Seminoles.
Indiana is now headed to the College World Series for the first time, in the process snapping a 29-year drought for the Big Ten advancing a team to Omaha.
“We are thrilled, we are happy,” said IU coach Tracy Smith, whose Hoosiers will be the conference’s first representative in the CWS since Michigan in 1984. “I tweeted out the other day that every pitch that we make, every hit and every out is really making history for our baseball program because this is certainly uncharted territory for us.”
For a young group of FSU players that has just three seniors on its roster, all that was left following a stunning two-game sweep by the unseeded Hoosiers were unfulfilled dreams and thoughts about what could’ve been.
“It’s very frustrating to go up there working every at bat, every pitch, and we just couldn’t come up with the key hit when we needed it,” sophomore star D.J. Stewart said with remnants of tears dripping from his eyes.
It was just the third time in school history that FSU sent its fans home without at least one win in the Super Regional round and marked the first time since 2009 the Seminoles were swept out of the postseason on the cusp of the College World Series.
It’s also no secret that FSU’s loss continued the program’s unenviable position of having the most NCAA Super Regional/Regional wins and CWS appearances in NCAA history without winning a national title.
For Seminole fans, it was sadly just the same story, different year.
“It’s just part of the game,” said a choked up FSU coach Mike Martin, who has been at the helm for 34 years in Tallahassee and has suffered one heartbreak after another.
This one was no different.
“We, of course, had good at-bats to position ourselves to get us in the situation of having chances, but as I said, sometimes things just don’t go your way,” he added. “I also would like to say to (my) team how much I appreciate the way they conducted themselves all year long, from what they did in the classroom to what they did on the field. Great leadership.”
FSU (47-17) trailed all but one inning in the series but was able to climb out of big holes twice in Games 1 and 2. On Sunday, the Seminoles rallied to tie the game at 5-5 after their three-run fifth inning on singles by Stewart and Marcus Davis and a double by Jose Brizuela — but would get no closer.
And Indiana (48-14) just kept coming.
The Hoosiers scoffed at FSU’s rally when it was their turn in the fifth as Sam Travis drove a Sitz fastball deep over the scoreboard in centerfield — a shot that would’ve made teammate and Big Ten home run leader Kyle Schwarber, who went deep Saturday for his 18th of the year, quite proud.
Lucky for Travis, Schwarber — who walked one batter before Travis — was there to greet him at home plate.
“This is what you dream about as a little kid,” Travis said. “You watch the College World Series on TV, and you just dream of it. And now it just feels like you are living in the dream.”
It was IU’s second homer of the game after Scott Donley hit a two-run shot in the first to pick up where the Hoosiers left off the night before. Donley finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Travis finished with four RBI, Michael Basil was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run and Justin Cureton had a 2-for-4, two-RBI, two-run day as well.
“The first thing I want to do is congratulate Indiana University for coming in here and getting it done, plain and simple,” Martin said. “It was a great display of baseball. They did everything that they needed to do to be successful, and I tip my hat to them.”
FSU’s three seniors (Sitz, Justin Gonzalez and Seth Miller) will be gone, but the Seminoles bring back loads of underclassmen, many of whom led the way for the Seminoles all weekend. On Sunday, it was Game 1 standout Giovanny Alfonzo, a sophomore, who had another terrific outing, going 2-for-3, while Davis, a junior, sophomores Josh Delph and Jose Brizuela, and Stewart, a freshman, each had two hits. And Delph, Stewart, Brizuela and juniors Casey Smit and Brett Knief all drove in runs for the Seminoles.
But six runs were all FSU’s high-powered offense could muster — and IU’s reliever Will Coursen-Carr, Sunday’s winning pitcher who also earned the save in Game 1 on Saturday, was the reason once again. After taking over in the sixth inning, he allowed just two hits and one run the rest of the way, outshining IU ace Aaron Slegers, who was tagged for five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Sitz, the losing pitcher who was relieved by Jameis Winston after 4 1/3 and gave up seven runs on six hits, said this wasn’t the way he saw Sunday playing out.
Then again, there likely weren’t many outside the state of Indiana who did.
“I missed some spots that they took advantage of. They are a good hitting team,” Sitz said. “That’s all I can say.”
NOTES: Winston, FSU’s two-sport star who may very well be the Seminoles’ starting QB come fall, pitched quite well in two innings of relief, allowing just one run on one hit and striking out three with an array of nasty pitches ... usually reliable FSU closer Robbie Coles, a local North Florida product from Crawfordville, struggled after taking over for Winston, allowing three runs on four hits in just 1 1/3 innings ... IU coach Smith was very well aware of the Big Ten’s College World Series drought, he just wasn’t exactly sure how long it had been, asking aloud at one point to reporters, “Help me out here guys ... when was the last time?” before a pair of responses echoed, “Michigan, 1984” .... FSU star catcher Stephen McGee, a junior, was selected in the ninth round by the L.A. Angels on Friday, but McGee, who finished the series a very un-McGee-like 2-for-11, was not made available to the media afterward to discuss whether he plans to stay in school and play his senior season or turn pro, and Martin said of the matter, “We don’t know what Stephen’s gonna do” ... IU ace Slegers, who is tied for the Big Ten lead with nine wins, had four wild pitches during his brief outing Sunday ... The Hoosiers became the second unseeded team to knock off a giant Sunday in the Super Regionals as Louisville chopped down No.2 Vanderbilt with a clean sweep. ... Before Sunday, Florida State had not lost a series at home all year.