Photo Credit: GoCards.com
The road to Omaha and the College World Series begins Friday for the Hoosiers, who now head to their sixth NCAA tournament in the last seven years. Selected into the Louisville Regional, the first of the regional games take place between May 31st and June 3rd. Indiana found out earlier that they would not be a regional site host.
Indiana’s first game will be against 3-seed Illinois State, taking place Friday May 31st at 2pm EST on ESPN3 (ESPN’s online streaming service).
Since Indiana did not win the conference tournament, the Hoosiers were selected to be one of the remaining at-large bids for the post-season tournament. Five Big Ten teams will be heading to the NCAA tournament this year: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska and conference tournament winner Ohio State. For more information on the NCAA bracket, schedule, and format, check out our 2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament overview.
As a note, the Louisville regional is paired with the Greenville regional hosted by East Carolina University. The winner between ECU, NC State, Campbell, and Quinnipiac will face the winner of the Louisville regional in the next round.
Let’s take a deeper look at the teams in the Louisville Regional.
No. 1 Louisville Cardinals (43-15, 21-9 ACC)
RPI Ranking #9
Louisville has been to the CWS three times since 2013 and appeared in 11 NCAA tournaments. Their furthest run was two appearances in the second round of the CWS. They have a 39-27 record in the postseason.
Much like the Hoosiers, they went to their conference tournament and lost very quickly after going 0-2 to Boston College and Clemson with only scoring 2 runs. Despite this disappointment, they earned a No. 7 seed overall and are guaranteed to host a Super Regional if they advance.
The sole team that Indiana has played this season, and they played each other recently on May 14. The game ended as a tough 8-7 loss for the Hoosiers over 12 innings at Bart Kaufman Field. It was a game highlighted by impressive pitching by the Cardinals as they struck out 23 Hoosiers, the most in a single game for the Cardinals since 2000, and the third most in a Division-I game this season. Indiana will need to go through rival Louisville another time to make it past the Regionals. A task that the Hoosiers can accomplish, but they need to find a way past the pitching of Luke Smith (5-0) and the rest of the Cardinals.
No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers (36-21, 17-7 B1G)
RPI Ranking #36
Indiana has now made eight NCAA Tournaments, but only has advanced to the CWS one time in 2013 behind Kyle Schwarber and a memorable Hoosier squad. They have a 13-14 record and have been the best B1G school in recent history with their consistency and ability to compete with some of the best teams in the country.
Fresh off first-year head coach Jeff Mercer being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, the Hoosiers had a disappointing performance in the Big Ten Tournament this season. They went 0-2 against the Hawkeyes (2-4) and Minnesota (4-9). This was very uncharacteristic of the Hoosiers who have consistently been an offensive power and home run machine. They used to be No. 1 in the nation in home runs with 90, but recently relinquished their title to Arizona St. (92) after a lack of production in the tournament.
The Hoosiers can cause some trouble for the Cardinals in the Regional games. Both teams have not been playing well in the “post-season” thus far. It will ultimately be dependent on which of these teams can right their new-found wrongs in the short period of time before the weekend.
No. 3 Illinois State Redbirds (34-24, 14-7 MVC)
RPI Ranking #26
The Redbirds are heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 where they will face Indiana first. This is their fourth appearance and have a 2-6 record. The Redbirds have won the NCAA Tournament in 1969 in the College Division – later reclassified into Division II and Division III.
Illinois State won a share of their conference regular season title after ending in a tie with Dallas Baptist University. They hosted their conference tournament and went 2-2 with losses back to back on Friday to Dallas Baptist and eventual winners Indiana State despite them scoring 13 runs between the two games. Their defense and pitching effort was not enough to keep up with their opposing offenses.
The last meetup between the Hoosiers and Redbirds was on March 4, 2016 with a 14-1 victory for the Hoosiers in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Hoosiers will need to find a way to slow down the prolific offensive attack of the Redbirds headed by John Rave and Joe Aeilts who each have over 10 home runs and 45 RBIs on the season.
No. 4 University of Illinois – Chicago Flames (29-21, 18-11 Horizon)
RPI Ranking #187
The Flames have made it to the NCAA Tournament 5 times in the history of their program. Their last appearance was in the 2017 Hattiesburg Regional where they went 0-2 to Southern Mississippi (7-8) and Mississippi State (4-5).
UIC won the Horizon League tournament after upsetting Jeff Mercer‘s previous team, Wright State. As the No. 2 seed in the Horizon League tournament, they did not drop a game and cruised to a conference tournament title. They are the only conference tournament winner in the Regional and despite being a more inconsistent team with a worse record than the others in the Regional, they have some experience that will allow them to compete in the postseason.
Indiana has not played UIC in the within the past decade. They are playing some of their best baseball of the season now and are on a 9-1 stretch of games. OF Scott Oda (19 HR) is the only player in the regional with more home runs than Cole Barr (16 HR). His 62 RBI will be a focal point in the match as when he starts to get hot, the Flames are tough to put out.
Format of the 2019 NCAA Baseball Tournament
- Regionals (Friday, May 31st – Monday, June 3rd): Each of the 16 host sites will have a seperate double-elimination bracket featuring four teams. One team will advance from the group.
- Super Regionals (Friday, June 7th – Monday, June 10th): Teams will play a best of three series against another regional winner.
- College World Series (Saturday, June 15th – Wednesday, June 26th): The remaining 8 teams are split into two groups of 4-teams. The teams will again go into a double-elimination bracket. The advancing team of each bracket will be in the College World Series finals and compete in a final best of three series.