BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—After spotting Austin Peay three runs in the opening frame, Indiana junior lefthander Joey DeNato settled in and the Hoosiers cruised to a 15-6 win to move into the regional championship game.
DeNato did not allow a hit in his last four innings of work. He went six innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out nine. He also moved into fifth place in program history with 205 punchouts.
“The five spot in the second inning was a huge relief,” DeNato said. “With our offense that we have, I know that, whether we’re down two or up by two, we’re going to keep that lead as long as I do my job. It’s definitely a lot easier and less stressful when we have a lead.”
“In the first inning, I kind of psyched myself out a little bit. They’re a good hitting team, so maybe I wasn’t as aggressive as I should’ve been. Once I got my offspeed working and getting the curveball over for a first-pitch strike, it helped me settle down.”
Indiana hitters reached base safely 28 times against the Governors (46-14), posting four multiple run innings on 14 hits, 12 walks and two errors. They chased APSU righthander Casey Delgado before he made it out of the second inning. The Governors relied on six different pitchers to get them through the game.
After combining for just two hits on Friday night, the two through five spots in the Hoosiers’ lineup drove in 14 runs on Saturday. Sophomore first baseman Sam Travis reached base five times, going 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs and four runs scored.
“We knew we had to come out and be more aggressive and attack fastballs,” Travis said. “And more importantly, attack fastball strikes. We didn’t swing at pitcher’s pitches and get ourselves out.”
After being on the brink of elimination on Friday night, Indiana (45-14) is now in the drivers’ seat. The Hoosers await the winner of Valparaiso and Austin Peay, who play at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The winner of that game will play at 6 p.m.
“I was convinced last night that it was great just to get that monkey off our back so we can just get back to playing baseball,” Smith said. “I knew our guys would be a heckuva lot more relaxed than they were against Valparaiso.”
Smith said he will wait to see the outcome of the afternoon game before deciding on whether to throw sophomore lefthander Kyle Hart (8-2, 3.01) or freshman lefthander Will Coursen-Carr (3-0, 1.81).