The Big Ten is back. So is the Wolfpack.
Indiana assured itself of being the first team from the Big Ten to finish its season in the College World Series since Michigan in 1984 when the Hoosiers wrapped up a super-regional sweep of Florida State with Sunday's 11-6 victory at Tallahassee, Fla.
“It goes without saying that all the guys in uniform and the people around the state of Indiana and just all of our IU folks are thrilled,” Hoosier coach Tracy Smith said. “Every pitch that we make, every hit and every out is really making history for our baseball program.
“This is unchartered territory for us.”
Indiana's trip to Omaha will be its first, while North Carolina State nailed down the school's second — and first since 1968 — by outlasting Rice in the longest game in super regional history.
Brett Williams' double in the 17th inning scored Tarran Senay with the winning run as North Carolina State pulled out a 5-4 win over the Owls in Raleigh, N.C. Rice was three outs from evening the series before the Wolfpack rallied for three runs in the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Louisville also locked up its second trip to Omaha by knocking Vanderbilt, the No. 2 national seed, out of the tournament with a 2-1 victory at the Nashville, Tenn., Super Regional.
Five of the eight spots are taken for the 2013 CWS, which begins Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park. LSU and UCLA locked up their spots Saturday, with three more to be decided Monday.
Oregon State, which squandered a ninth-inning lead Saturday in losing to Kansas State, came back Sunday to pound the Wildcats 12-4 at the Corvallis, Ore., Super Regional. The teams will play the decisive game Monday.
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Mississippi State is six outs from securing its first CWS berth since 2007. After upsetting Virginia on Saturday, the Bulldogs held a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh when heavy rains suspended play at Charlottesville, Va. The game will resume at 3 p.m. Monday.
South Carolina could clinch its fourth straight trip to Omaha on Monday when it plays North Carolina in the Chapel Hill, N.C., Super Regional. After losing Saturday on a walk-off hit, the Gamecocks evened the best-of-three series with an 8-0 win Sunday.
North Carolina, the No. 1 national seed, never challenged against sophomore Jordan Montgomery. The left-hander gave up only four hits in becoming the first South Carolina pitcher to throw a shutout in the NCAA tournament since Chris Hernandez in 2003.
“The elimination game kind of gave me a little more incentive,” Montgomery said. “I didn't want our seniors to go out that way, so I just wanted to get a win and try to help get them back to Omaha.”
Indiana will finish its greatest season ever in TD Ameritrade because the Hoosiers made the most of their opportunities in the two wins over the No. 7 national-seeded Seminoles. Indiana scored 21 runs and left 10 runners on base. Meanwhile, Florida State stranded 22 runners in the two games.
“It's funny how you sit over there and say, 'Somebody, somebody pick us up,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “You have to credit them for making pitches when they needed to make them. Then again, it's just part of the game. It makes it interesting every night.”
Indiana jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning but the Seminoles battled back to tie the game 5-5 in the top of the fifth inning. The Hoosiers quickly regained the lead on Sam Travis' two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning, and they sealed their victory by scoring three runs in the eighth inning.
The super-regional championship is the fourth title for the Hoosiers this season. Indiana won its first regular-season Big Ten championship since 1932, then won the conference tournament. Indiana played host to its first regional tournament, which it won in three games.
“Every step of the way is magical,” said left fielder Casey Smith, the coach's son. “I don't want to sit back and look at it until everything is done. The best part is to just keep going and taking another step.”
Louisville rode the strong pitching of Jeff Thompson, who limited one of college baseball's most productive offenses to three hits in seven innings. The Cardinals scored twice in the second inning, and Thompson and four relievers protected the lead the rest of the way.
Louisville set a school record for victories while improving to 51-12 and wrapping up its second trip to Omaha.
“In 2007 when we went, we caught people off guard, even our fan base,” Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said. “It's a little disappointing LSU made it yesterday because I'm afraid their fan base is going to take up all the hotels in Omaha.”
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