A Run to Remember: A Look at Indiana State’s Historic NCAA Tournament Effort

Indiana State University Baseball incredible tournament run
Credit: Seth Montgomery | GoSycamores.com

When running through a list of elite, collegiate athletic programs in the great state of Indiana, there is one school that is never mentioned: Indiana State. The small university located in Terre Haute, near the Indiana-Illinois border, has rarely ever made a big splash in the sports world. The fact the university plays in the small Missouri Valley Conference doesn’t help their cause when it comes to this.

This summer, however, there is something special happening on the banks of the Wabash. Something that hasn’t happened since Larry Bird last stepped out onto the court of the university: The Indiana State Sycamores are garnering national attention.

Quiet Regular Season

The Sycamores would struggle to maintain any real momentum throughout the season. It seemed as all of their games went by chalk. What I mean by that is that they beat the smaller teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the bigger programs that they were expected to lose to. They never got upset and they never upset anyone else, except maybe when they got swept by Northeastern down in Port Charlotte, Florida, but we won’t really talk about that. 

Sycamores Get Hot 

So a pretty subdued regular season, but then the tournaments arrived. First was the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Like all of the other tournaments in the NCAA, this one is double elimination. This simply means that a team has to lose twice in order to be fully knocked out of the tournament. The Sycamores jumped out of the starting gate hot, scoring three straight wins. This meant, on May 27th, they only needed to beat the Evansville Aces one more time to take the Missouri Valley title…they would lose, forcing an elimination, winner-take-all game for the Missouri Valley crown. They would shut down the Aces the very next day, winning 6-0. 

NCAA Tournament Terre Haute Regional

When June began, so did the Terre Haute Regional. Again, this tournament was double elimination, but the Sycamores didn’t have to worry about that because they wouldn’t lose even once. They would quickly put down Wright State and find themselves in a double-elimination final with the storied baseball program of the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Sycamores would never blink against Iowa, winning both games by three runs and even having a little fun in the process. 

Indiana State Baseball “Fake Catch”

Indiana State Adam Pottinger robbed one Iowa home run on Saturday and appeared to do it again the following day on Sunday. Going up for a borderline ball at the fence it appeared, on the broadcast, he had done it again. The crowd reacted as if he caught it. His body language indicated he had the ball in his glove. The batter even left the basepaths to go back to the dugout thinking Pottinger had the ball in hand.

Then, a cheeky smile creased Pottinger’s face before he opened his mitt to show an empty palm. The broadcast, and I imagine a lot of people watching at home, had a good laugh about the ordeal. This stunt by Pottinger would find his name splashed on national news outlets like Fox News and the New York Post. Pretty cool for a kid from the small Chicago suburb of Deerfield. 

Looking Ahead

Tonight, the Sycamores will take on the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas. This will be the first time, in the tournament season, that Indiana State will be playing away from home. It is also the first time Indiana State will play in front of a nationally televised audience. Before, much of ISU’s games were on various streaming platforms. On June 9th, they will be playing America’s pastime on ESPNU.

This will be a three-game series to see who advances to the Elite Eight. Will the Sycamores thrive under the bright lights or will they come up just short? Either way, this has been an incredible run by the Indiana State and I’m sure every natural born Hoosier will be rooting for them to pull one out against the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth.

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