BLOOMINGTON — Caring comes with a catch; how lousy it feels to lose. Indiana University was just reminded of that.
Here in this basketball town, nothing has hurt worse lately than a baseball game. They have fallen in love with the sport around here, which is why the stands were full Monday night, even after a three-hour rain delay. The masses have learned much about college baseball in the Hoosiers' rapid and extraordinary ascent to national relevance, and now they've learned something else.
The game can be as cruel as any other. Sometimes, more so.
The tutorial came on a two-run Stanford homer in the bottom of the ninth. Just like that, a 5-foot-10 freshman from San Diego named Tommy Edman turned out the lights, and the party was over.
And so, as the clock struck midnight — literally, as well as figuratively on the Hoosiers' hopes of a return to the College World Series — a throng stood outside the clubhouse, waiting to console the stricken Indiana players, as if they were survivors off a ship wreck.
Inside, the Hoosiers were just beginning the long, slow recovery, which happens when a dream goes bust.
There was the coach who has built this sudden powerhouse.
"For me, it's not going to be defined by the loss at the end of the season. I kind of refuse to go there because there were too many good things," Tracy Smith said.
There was the future high draft pick catcher, who hit .588 in the regional, and still lost.
"You're just in a state of awe about what happened and what could have happened," Kyle Schwarber said, "and what this team was and what we could have done."
There was the senior third baseman who will leave with 316 career hits, more than any active player in the nation.