BOZICH | Indiana's Longest Long Ball Defeats Louisville, 7-2
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Indiana defeated Louisville, 7-2, at Patterson Stadium Tuesday night. After the game you didn’t need a pitching coach or a Baseball Tonight analyst to tell you what happened.
You needed an engineer.
Somebody who could measure distance and then accurately calculate how far Indiana catcher Kyle Schwarber hit his three-run home run in the ninth inning.
The distance painted at the top of the center-field wall is 402 feet. The dark batter’s eye wall in center extends at least another 40 feet above the eight-foot barrier. The baseball cleared the batter’s eye by perhaps 15 feet, soaring majestically toward the railroad tracks that wind beyond the outfield fence.
About 450 feet?
“I have no idea,” Schwarber said.
More than 450?
“Absolutely,” said IU outfielder Will Nolden. “Hands down. That ball was crushed. I don’t know if it’s landed yet.”
Do I hear 475?
“Honestly?” IU coach Tracy Smith said.
“Easily,” Smith said. “It’s four (hundred) to (the wall) so that’s not an exaggeration.”
Here is the safest thing to say: Schwarber hit the baseball farther than a college baseball player is supposed to be able to hit a ball since the NCAA mandated less lively bats four years ago. It was his 10th home run this season, 36th of his career.
Schwarber hit the baseball the way a guy is supposed to hit the baseball when his coach said that he is projected to be one of the first 15 picks in the Major League Baseball free-agent draft next month.
Schwarber hit the baseball like a guy who was angry that he made outs during his first four at bats, and he wanted to move IU to second nationally in the latest Ratings Percentage Index numbers.
Schwarber hit the baseball in a way that made it mandatory to ask him one easy question:
How does it feel to hit a ball that far?
“It’s just like any other home run,” Schwarber said. “It just happens to go that far.”
Sorry. I’m not accepting that answer. Really?
“Really,” Schwarber said. “It’s cool to say that you hit it that far. But it takes a lot for that to happen.”
Schwarber’s home run came with two outs. Indiana led, 4-2, scoring its fourth run earlier in the inning, stifling the momentum that Louisville had stirred by scoring once in the seventh and again in the eighth.
Schwarber is a left-handed hitter. He hit the home run against Louisville pitcher Cole Sturgeon, who throws left handed.
Sturgeon started the sequence with a split-finger fastball. It was low. He followed with strike one and threw another pitch outside. Schwarber was looking for a high fastball. Schwarber got a high fastball.
“He probably thought I was looking for that splitter,” Schwarber said. “I was just looking for a ball to be elevated.
“Sometimes you hit the ball hard and sometimes you just miss them. I just missed one to center field again in one of my previous at bats and I hit one hard to second base. That happens.”
The victory was another exclamation point in Indiana’s remarkable season. The Hoosiers have now won 24 of their last 26 – and both defeats were by one run.
It was IU’s third victory against Louisville in three games and improved the Hoosiers record to 36-12. Unless Indiana stumbles terribly against Minnesota this weekend and again in the Big Ten Tournament next week, Indiana is likely to be one of eight national seeds in the NCAA Tournament – one season after IU went to the College World Series.
Louisville also played in the 2013 College World Series and aspires to return. The Cardinals sit at 40-13 as they prepare to finish their regular season with a three-game home series against Cincinnati, starting Thursday night.
Coach Dan McDonnell and his team are still pursuing the American Athletic Conference regular-season title and a spot as a host for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Cards are 18th in the latest RPI.
“Dan and I talked about it before the game,” Smith said. “We’re all kind of in the same spot, battling to try to host.
“Dan and his program have done a very, very good job for a lot of years. We said that years ago, that they (Louisville) have set the standard for baseball in the Midwest and certainly in our area.
“So I’m proud that we’ve caught up a little bit. It’s two good baseball teams going at it.”
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