OMAHA, Neb. — Louisville coach Dan McDonnell says his team didn't play badly. It's just that Indiana pitcher Joey DeNato was great.
DeNato threw a four-hitter and Indiana looked right at home in beating Louisville 2-0 on Saturday night in the Hoosiers' first appearance in the College World Series.
The Hoosiers manufactured their runs early, and DeNato (10-2) made them stand up in a masterful 136-pitch performance in front of a TD Ameritrade Park-record crowd of 27,122.
"Our guys were ready to play," McDonnell said. "They were excited. I give a lot of credit to their pitcher."
Indiana (49-18) has beaten the Cardinals (51-13) in three of four meetings, shutting them out twice. The Hoosiers will play Monday against Mississippi State, and the Cardinals will face Oregon State in an elimination game.
DeNato allowed three singles and a double in his second complete game. He struck out eight and walked three.
"The main thing about DeNato, he competes and never gives in," Louisville's Cole Sturgeon said. "He out-competed us. As hard as that is to say, he won pitches when he needed to and we didn't get the big hit when we needed it."
Louisville starter Chad Green (10-4) left after Indiana loaded the bases with none out in the third inning. He walked four in addition to allowing four hits.
"It wasn't like he was all over the place," McDonnell said. "I thought the game came down to there were 3-2 counts in our favor and 3-2 counts in their favor. And to their credit, their guy just kept making those pitches when he was behind, when he had to. And, unfortunately, Chad just couldn't, whether he walked the guy or whatever, and it's just not like Chad at all."
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.
Louisville is in Omaha for the second time, and first since 2007, and trying to continue its university's run of athletic success this year. The football team beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl, its men's basketball team won the national championship and its women's basketball team was national runner-up.
DeNato limited Louisville to three singles through seven innings and got a big play from right fielder Will Nolden in the third to keep the shutout going.
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 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.
Nolden prevented what would have been Louisville's first run in the third. Nolden came up throwing after picking up Cole Sturgeon's base hit and nailed Sutton Whiting at the plate to end the inning.
There was a 10-minute delay in the middle of the fourth inning when plate umpire Steve Manders became ill and left the game. Chris Coskey, the second-base umpire, took over behind the plate. Gregory Street, who worked second base in the afternoon game between Mississippi State and Oregon State, took Coskey's place at second.