It would be a shame if a promising Indiana baseball season came to an end tonight.
The Hoosiers have done everything they could have hoped for to this point.
They repeated as Big Ten regular season champions.
They won the Big Ten Tournament by sweeping four games in Omaha.
They earned a No. 4 national seed.
They prepared the best possible route to Omaha for a return trip to the College World Series by being named a Regional and Super Regional (if they win the Regional) host.
All they had to do was go out and take care of business.
From the first game of this Regional between No. 2 Indiana State and No. 3 Stanford, one thing was clear. This Regional was going to come down to a best two-out-of-three series between IU and Stanford.
They were clearly the two class teams of this Regional.
Stanford has won three out of four games and Indiana has won two out of three. Their only losses were to each other.
And so it all comes down to how well the two teams play tonight. My guess is that it will be everything fans expect it to be.
The biggest question is pitching and just how that will play out.
I'll begin with Stanford. Stanford threw its ace Cal Quantrill on Friday afternoon and he pitched a complete game and threw 104 pitches. Saturday, Stanford started with John Hochstatter. He went 7.1 against Indiana and threw 114 pitches. Sunday's first game starter was Brett Hanewich. He also got up over 100 pitches with 7.0 innings of work and 113 pitches. The starter against Indiana Sunday night was Logan James but he only lasted1.2 innings and threw 39 pitches. A.J. Vanagas threw 5.1 of relief and tossed 80 pitches.
Add it up in four games, and Stanford as a pitching staff has used 10 different arms to throw a total of 555 pitches.
Indiana started the first game with Scott Effross who went 4 innings and threw 58 pitches. Evan Bell threw 3.2 innings in relief and tossed 77 pitches. Joey DeNato went Saturday. He threw 104 pitches in 7.1 innings. Christian Morris started Sunday and went 4.1 throwing 72 pitches. Luke Harrison had 47 pitches in 3 middle innings.
Add up IU's three-game pitching total and the Hoosiers have used a total of eight different pitchers and thrown a total of 434 pitches.
The question though is who is available tonight.
The obvious choice for the Hoosiers would be Sullivan Stadler, who was IU's mid-week starter and pitched in a couple of big games. He made 6 starts on the year including twice against Louisville and once against Nebraska in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. Stadler is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA.
The next possibility would be Brian Korte. Korte was the third starter in Big Ten play all season but has had some arm tenderness of late and was kept out of the Big Ten Tournament. Korte's record is 3-0 in seven starts with a 2.11 ERA. His last appearance was May 17 in the season finale against Minnesota.
Those would seem to be the two biggest options but both with a short leash. I would expect Indiana to throw everyone if needed tonight.
As for Stanford, there are two options among starters. Chris Viall started eight games this season and had a 2-3 record and a 4.07 ERA. He pitched a third of an inning in relief against IU on Saturday and threw two pitches. The other would be Tyler Thorne who was 2-0 with a 4.72 ERA in five starts this year. He threw 20 pitches in an inning or work Sunday afternoon against Youngstown State.
Beyond that one would think the guys that threw 100 pitches or more this weekend would be out and likely Vanagas, too. He had never thrown more than 4 innings in relief all year and he threw 5.1 Sunday and 80 pitches. My guess is he wouldn't be an option tonight.
So it's one game for all the marbles. Now we'll just sit back and see how the Hoosiers handle the pressure.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch