The Hoosiers will travel to Nashville, Tenn., this weekend for the Music City Classic after taking one out of three games at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
IU (2-5) will face Illinois State (4-3) and Kent State (4-2) before rounding out the weekend with Vanderbilt (7-1) on Sunday.
Junior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin is coming off a weekend in which he went 6-13 and was named to the All-Challenge team. He is now hitting .400 with 5 extra base hits and 7 RBI on the year.
“I’m feeling good right now,” Sabourin said. “Any hitter can tell you, when you’re feeling good, it doesn’t seem like there’s a pitch that you can’t hit.”
Illinois State will send pitcher Corey Maines (1-0, 2.53 ERA), who has had 14 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched, to the hill Friday. IU coach Tracy Smith expressed the importance of putting the ball in play and cutting down on the strikeouts this week at practice.
“We’re just re-emphasizing our two-strike approach and staying with our plan,” Smith said. “We’re going to see some good arms this weekend, but it’s going to be our mind-set to stay within our approach.”
Freshman pitcher Walker Stadler (1-1, 4.63 ERA) will get the start against Illinois State, temporarily filling in for sophomore pitcher Blake Monar, who is currently battling shoulder problems. Monar was examined Wednesday, and Smith said he expects his southpaw starter to miss at least three weeks.
Sophomore left-hander Drew Leininger (0-0, 2.38 ERA) will get the nod against Kent State on Saturday. Leininger started in the Hoosiers’ win against West Virginia last weekend, throwing 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 4 hits with 3 strikeouts.
To wrap up the Music City Classic, the Hoosiers will face one of the nation’s better teams in No. 27 Vanderbilt. The Commodores will send 6’7” pitcher Jack Armstrong (1-0, 4.50 ERA) to the mound while the Hoosiers will counter with sophomore Ethan Wilson, who is primarily an infielder. Wilson has thrown three perfect innings this year.
“Ethan’s a competitive kid, and there’s no secret why we’re 2-5,” Smith said. “Ethan has done a good job of coming in on relief. He’s got a good fastball, and he’s throwing multiple pitches for strikes. So, I want to give him a shot. It can’t be any worse than what we’ve had so far.”