BOZICH: Back, Back, Back ... But Park Knocks Indiana Down - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Back, Back, Back ... But Park Knocks Indiana Down

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After six College World Series games, only one home run has been hit -- as Indiana discovered Monday night. After six College World Series games, only one home run has been hit -- as Indiana discovered Monday night.

RAW VIDEO: IU baseball coach Tracy Smith on TD Ameritrade Park dimensions - CLICK HERE

 

OMAHA, Neb. (WDRB) – Welcome to the College World Series. Welcome to TD Ameritrade Park. Welcome to the place where fly balls, line drives, anything that looks like a home run comes to die, usually miles from the wall.

Six games have been played over three days in this World Series. A single home run has been hit. There is video proof that Mason Katz of Louisiana State cleared the wall here.

Indiana lost to Mississippi State, 5-4, Monday night. The Hoosiers struck out 14 times. They left 10 runners on base. They beat themselves.

It appeared that Indiana had twice tied the game in the ninth inning with home runs two and three of this World Series.

Kyle Schwarber, IU's catcher, hit a soaring fly ball to center field. Sam Travis, the next IU hitter, hit the ball even harder, a crackling line drive to left-center field.

Those balls would have been out of most parks in the country – and as baseball people like to say, that includes Yellowstone.

"I thought Sam's was clearly gone," IU left fielder Casey Smith said.

"I would say so," Schwarber said. "I thought Sam's had a chance. He crushed it. It was a tough one."

They were not out of TD Ameritrade Park, which has become as much of a story as the players. That is not the way it is supposed to work.

The only way to get a baseball out of TD Ameritrade Park is to tuck one in your pocket and carry it out. Any other approach is futile. There is a reason outfielders play as much as 75 feet from the 408 sign on the center-field wall.

Schwarber's fly ball landed short of the warning track when Mississippi State's C. T. Bradford caught it in center field. Travis's line drive sizzled into the padding below the yellow stripe that lines the top of the eight-foot fence.

Merely a double. It left Indiana with runners on second and third with one out. The Hoosiers scored one of those runners. They needed to score two. They lost when their final two hitters grounded out.

"Honestly because of the way (the park) was playing all week, I thought, ‘OK, double in the gap," IU coach Tracy Smith said.

"I didn't even think it was going to get to the warning track. Then when I saw the replay, that it hit about two feet below the yellow, that's when I wanted to throw up."

There is no time for throwing up now. To survive in this World Series, Indiana must defeat the same Oregon State team that eliminated Louisville earlier Monday. That game will be played Wednesday at 8 p.m. If the Hoosiers win, they must defeat Mississippi State twice – once on Friday and again on Saturday.

They must also do what every team in this tournament must do to win: Reconsider their hitting approach. You cannot win playing for home runs in this park.

Check the box scores. Check the data. The bats are not as lively as they used to be. The ball does not carry in this park. Teams are winning with defense and pitching and creating runs. Sluggers suffer.

Indiana led 3-1 after five innings. They should have led by twice that margin. The Hoosiers left 10 runners on base. They said they were not swinging for the fences. But the box scored betrays that analysis. They struck out 14 times.

They got to the ninth trailing, 5-3, and got the leadoff man on. Then came the Schwarber fly ball and the Travis line drive. Then came hope they had tied the game. They did not.

"As soon as I hit it and it was in the air, I knew there was no shot," Schwarber said. "It just dies out there. I don't know. I've seen some kids crush some balls up in the air and it's not getting out. You've got to hit a line drive to get it out of here."

Sam Travis hit a line drive. That one also did not leave the park.

"I hit it too much on the line," Travis said. "We're playing at this park. Things didn't go our way today." 

"It's just a difficult park to hit it out of," Casey Smith said. "There's something up there. It's just a big park."

And a big challenge.

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