The 2013 College World Series is taking shape, as the Super Regionals have concluded and the final eight teams have moved on. Amongst the squads that are one step closer to reaching their dreams are surprisingly strong forces Louisville and Indiana.
The question is, what will be the keys to their upcoming clash?
Louisville advanced by shocking the world and sweeping the Vanderbilt Commodores. This comes after Vanderbilt was ranked second in the nation entering the College World Series and appeared to be one of the primary contenders.
The Cardinals won the clinching game by a score of 2-1, riding on Jeff Thompson's 7.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out nine.
Indiana, meanwhile, took down the Florida State Seminoles in a completely different fashion. Over the span of two games, the two sides combined for 36 runs and established their offensive brilliance.
When it was all said and done, Indiana punched their ticket to the College World Series.
Pause me if you've heard this story before, college basketball fans, but the Indiana Hoosiers are a high-powered offense and the Louisville Cardinals thrive defensively. For that reason, we must break this all down step-by-step.
It all starts with pitching.
Indiana may be racking up the runs, but they're also one of the best pitching teams in the nation. They're sixth in the nation in team ERA and are led by the likes of Aaron Slegers, Joey DeNato and Kyle Hart.
A trio that has combined to go 26-5.
For Louisville, their pitchers are of equally elite stature, ranking fifth in earned run average. They're led by the dynamic duo of Jeff Thompson and Chad Green.
That duo has combined to go 21-4, with Dace Kime is 6-1 with a 3.07 ERA.
The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off two games in which they combined for 21 runs. This comes after a season in which they ranked 21st in batting average and 24th in runs scored.
In other words, the Hoosiers can hit.
Kyle Schwarber leads the charge with 18 home runs and 54 RBI, with Sam Travis adding 10 home runs and 56 RBI. Scott Donley has a team-high 58 RBI, which comes on just five home runs.
Louisville isn't quite as dominant, but they're more than capable at the plate.
The Cardinals are 32nd in runs scored and 47th in batting average. Those aren't elite numbers, but they're close enough to the top tier to prove that Louisville is dangerous enough to tack on the runs when need be.
It all starts with their ability to get on base.
Louisville doesn't have a single player with at least 10 home runs, but they do have five players batting better than .300. Three of those players are hitting better than .333, while Cole Sturgeon is at .327 and Sutton Whiting hits .315.
With Ty Young going .339 and driving in 57 runs with seven triples, Louisville has the firepower—so who will walk away victorious?
The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off a series in which they out-slugged a strong Florida State team. The Louisville Cardinals are fresh out of a series in which they dominated the Vanderbilt Commodores' elite bats—sixth in batting average—with their pitching.
So whose success will carry over?
The Cardinals boast an elite pitching staff that's living up to their name, but the Hoosiers aren't far behind. While their pitchers may have failed to show up against Florida State, they remain one of the top rotations in the nation.
Paired with their multitude of run producing bats, that's enough to give them the edge on paper—but that's why we play the games.
Ty Young is one of the best all-around hitters in the nation, while Jeff Thompson, Chad Green and Dace Kime simply cannot be hit. The Hoosiers will be in every game, but when it comes down to it, Louisville has stars up top and depth throughout their roster.
Opportunistic play will help Louisville advance against a game Hoosiers opponent.
Louisville 2, Indiana 1