The Associated Press
TERRE HAUTE —
Joey DeNato dispelled the notion that College World Series newcomer Indiana is all about offense.
The junior left-hander threw a four-hitter and the Hoosiers looked mighty comfortable at TD Ameritrade Park while beating Louisville 2-0 on Saturday night.
“I was pleased with what Joey was able to do,” Indiana coach Tracy Smith said, “because as much as our offense has been something very key for us, at the end of the day if you’re going to win a national championship you’re still going to do it with your pitching and defense.”
The Hoosiers (49-18) had plenty of both. DeNato got stronger as the game went on, and the defense played error-free and produced a huge play when right fielder Will Nolden threw out Sutton Whiting at the plate to keep the shutout intact.
Indiana (49-18) has beaten the Cardinals (51-13) in three of four meetings, shutting them out twice. The Hoosiers will play today against Mississippi State, and the Cardinals will face Oregon State in an elimination game.
The Hoosiers manufactured their runs early, and DeNato (10-2) made them stand up in a masterful 136-pitch outing in front of a stadium-record crowd of 27,122.
“Definitely one of the top performances I’ve ever had,” DeNato said. “Getting ahead in the count and throwing my curveball over for a strike on first pitches was working pretty good.”
DeNato allowed three singles and a double in his second complete game. He struck out eight and walked three.
Louisville starter Chad Green (10-4) left after Indiana loaded the bases with none out in the third inning.
Indiana is the first Big Ten team in the CWS since Michigan in 1984 and gave the conference its first win in Omaha since the Wolverines beat Stanford in 1983.
Indiana has won all six of its NCAA tournament games after failing to get out of regionals in its only other appearances in 1996 and 2009.
“It’s new territory for us,” Smith said. “We’re excited to get that first College World Series win out of the way, albeit not the prettiest win. There were mental mistakes, plenty of baserunning mistakes, but there also were some nice plays out there. We feel we have better baseball in us.”
DeNato limited Louisville to three singles through seven innings. Adam Engel doubled down the left-field line with two outs in the Louisville eighth, but DeNato got Cole Sturgeon to ground out to end the threat.
DeNato retired the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters — Ty Young, Coco Johnson and Jeff Gardner — to end the game and deny the Cardinals a 10th win in their last at-bat this season.
The Hoosiers, who came to Omaha batting .305 and with 51 home runs, had chances to break open the game but couldn’t muster more than RBI singles by Scott Donley in the first and Michael Basil in the third.
n North Carolina State 8, North Carolina 1 — North Carolina State and North Carolina were playing each other in baseball for the 285th time, but never on a stage like this.
Carlos Rodon pitched like the star he is, throwing eight shutout innings and holding the Tar Heels to five hits Sunday.
“This is the College World Series, and it doesn’t get any better than this, so why not bring your ‘A’ game?” Rodon said. “Of course, I try to bring my ‘A’ game every time.”
Rodon (10-2), who required 108 pitches to record his third complete game of the season, held the No. 1 national seed Tar Heels hitless into the fifth inning. He allowed five hits and struck out eight.
It was the sophomore left-hander’s second straight dominating performance against the Tar Heels. Three weeks ago he allowed one hit and struck out 14 in 10 innings but got no decision in a 2-1, 18-inning loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
“He was as good as I’ve seen him all year,” Wolfpack catcher Brett Austin said.
The Wolfpack’s first CWS appearance since 1968 will continue Tuesday when it plays either LSU or UCLA. The Tar Heels (57-11), in Omaha for the sixth time in eight years, are one loss from elimination. Carolina hasn’t lost back-to-back games this season.