It's been a season of firsts this year for the Indiana Hoosiers: they hosted their first regional, made it to their first super regional, and earned their first trip to Omaha. After a 2-0 win over the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night, you can add first College World Series win to that list.
It's been offense that has carried Indiana through the tournament, but it was the pitching performance by starter Joey DeNato that pushed them past the Cardinals. DeNato, now 10-2 on the year, delivered a four-hit shutout, throwing 136 pitches in the process.
Louisville's best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the third after a walk and a wild pitch put a man on second with two outs. Junior Cole Sturgeon delivered a base hit to shallow center field, and Sutton Whiting rounded third trying for home.
Indiana center fielder Will Nolden was having none of that.
That ball couldn't have been better placed if he threw it from the mound.
Led by their bullpen, Louisville put in a strong pitching performance of their own, holding a high-powered Indiana offense that leads the Omaha field in tournament scoring to just two runs on seven hits. Starter Chad Green allowed both runs in a short-lived two-inning outing, as he struck out four but also struggled with consistency and allowed four free passes. He was relieved by lefty Cody Ege, who combined with Dace Kime and Cole Sturgeon to hold the Hoosiers to just four hits over the last seven innings.
Indiana's first run came in the opening frame, as they used a walk and a single to set up an RBI base-hit from Scott Donley to make it 1-0.
Indiana had several chances to really break this game open, but repeatedly squandered them. Two walks and a single loaded the bases in the top of the third, at which point Louisville went to the pen for Ege. After a strikeout put the first out on the board, Michael Basil singled to left to score Nolden, but Kyle Schwarber was tagged out at home on a bullet from Louisville left fielder Coco Johnson. Ege than coaxed a groundout as the Cardinals escaped the jam having allowed only one run.
The Hoosiers loaded them up again in the top of the seventh, getting two walks and an infield single, but Louisville wriggled out of the jam once more, this time using a double play to end the inning with no damage done. In total, Indiana stranded 11 runners, four of them in scoring position with two outs.
Saturday marked only the second time Louisville has been shut out all season. The first? A 2-0 loss to Indiana in the opening game of the season. This was the fourth time the two teams have faced off this year, with the Hoosiers now holding a 3-1 advantage.
Indiana will now face Mississippi State, who took down No. 3 Oregon State in Sunday's early game, at 8 p.m. ET Monday. Louisville drops to the losers' bracket to play the Beavers at 3 p.m. earlier that day.