ST. JOSEPH — When the Indiana baseball team made its run to the College World Series in June, Hunter Hart watched on television from his home and thought to himself, “It would be kind of cool to play on this stage.”
At the time, the hard-throwing right-hander who was drawing interest from Division I programs had yet to hear from the Hoosiers. They came calling a few weeks later.
And the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder was all ears.
“Right away I was excited,” Hart said. “Getting recruited by a team that talented, I was definitely excited.”
So excited was Hart by the overtures from Indiana and coach Tracy Smith that he gave the Hoosiers an oral commitment Tuesday, ending a recruitment that began last spring when the fireballer posted an 11-2 record — including a stretch of 211/3 hitless innings — with a 1.16 ERA.
Hart said he also had offers from Southern Illinois and Alabama-Birmingham.
“It’s a relief to have it done,” Hart said. “I was really stressed out there for a while. It really was a hard decision for me to make.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hart was coveted by one of college baseball’s rising powers. With a fastball that reaches the low 90s, he struck out 136 hitters in 661/3 innings last spring for the Spartans and allowed 21 hits while leading SJ-O to the Class 2A super-sectional, the best season in program history.
“This was my goal, to play Division I college baseball,” he said.
Whether Hart starts or comes out of the bullpen in Bloomington has yet to be determined. Whatever the role, he’s expected to compete for innings from Day 1 in Crimson and Cream.
“It’s just a real hot program right now, and when I get there I have the chance to compete right away, and it’s close to home,” said Hart, a prominent contributor on the Spartans’ football and basketball squads. “They’ve got high expectations for me and expecting me to compete. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”