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June 18, 2013

Notebook: B1G's top pitcher next up for IU

OMAHA, Neb. - To fight out of the College World Series loser's bracket requires a team to expend pitching. Indiana finds itself in that bracket for the first time after Mississippi State rallied to defeat the Hoosiers 5-4 Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park.

The Hoosiers' cut their two-run deficit in half, but senior Michael Basil grounded out to Bulldogs' closer Jonathan Holder. Sophomore Sam Travis, the tying run, was stranded at third.

No team has overcome a two-run deficit to win in the three years that TD Ameritrade Park has hosted the College World Series.

Indiana has the pitching necessary to recover.

Big Ten Pitcher of the Year sophomore Aaron Slegers is set to pitch Wednesday when the Hoosiers (49-15) face Oregon State (51-12) at 8 p.m. (ESPN). The 6-foot-10 right-handed Slegers is 9-1 on the year.

"I think it's huge," said junior Ryan Halstead, who took the loss Monday after 2 1/3 innings in relief, "especially 'cause we got Slegers going the next game. (Sophomore Kyle) Hart's always ready to go. Then after that, we have a chance of (junior) Joey (DeNato) bouncing back.

"I think we're still in good shape, pitching-wise. Our bullpen's still fresh. We got guys who haven't thrown yet, so I think we're still in good shape when it comes to pitching."

DeNato threw a complete-game shutout when IU beat Louisville 2-0 in its College World Series opener on Saturday.

Basil said the team's mindset, despite facing elimination, will not change.

"You've just got to go play your best baseball," he said. "That's all you can do. There's no added stress, really."

A rallying cry ... goes unheeded

Indiana has rallied to win the game in walk-off fashion once this NCAA Tournament, on May 31 in the first game of the Bloomington, Ind., regional. The Hoosiers scored twice in the top of the ninth on May 17 against Ohio State closer Trace Dempsey -who entered that game with an ERA under 0.50 - and won in 10 innings to secure a share of the Big Ten title.

Indiana overcame a 2-1 deficit on April 28 against Michigan to win 3-2 in 10 innings.

On April 14 and 15th at Michigan State, the Hoosiers scored in the top of the ninth to tie the game.

Basil was concise when he described the team's mindset prior to the bottom of the ninth.

"(We thought) that we were going to come back and win," he said. "It's just what we've done all year. We haven't really cared who's on the mound when it's crunch time. We've gotten it done all year and today we just didn't."

Halstead said the Hoosiers are never really out of games.

"(Sophomore Chris) Sujka leading it off, Sam crushing that double, I mean, there was a good chance of us coming back," the Hoosiers' all-time saves leader said. "We just came up short this time. It happens."

The mentality behind that cry

Sujka pinch-hit for fellow sophomore Will Nolden to begin the bottom of the ninth. He singled to lead off the frame. That was the third time the lead-off hitter reached base against MSU.

"I was just thinking I need to get on base for (sophomore Kyle) Schwarber and Sam," he said, "If I got on base, the tying run was at the plate. It was for those two guys. I was very confident, if I was on base, that we were gonna come back."

Sujka said of the six pitches he saw from Bulldogs' relief pitcher Chad Girodo, he said he thought he saw only one fastball.

"He was just moving that breaking ball in and out," the Oak Forest, Ill., product said. "It was effective for him."

Girodo pitched 6 1/3 innings of relief. He allowed two runs in the third - both earned - and struck out 10 to give his team a chance to win. The Bulldogs capitalized, and Girodo notched his ninth victory.

Holder earned his 28th career save, placing him one save shy of equaling the MSU career record.

What's next, numbers …

Indiana will play Oregon State at 8 p.m. (Eastern), Wednesday on ESPN in an elimination game. Indiana will be the home team. … Mississippi State awaits the winner of that game, to be played at 3 pm (Eastern) on Friday. … Attendance was 25,260, a record for session six of the College World Series. Total CWS attendance through six games is 146,652, an average of 24,442 per game.

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