Indiana Daily Student

Smith makes first start against Louisville

IU sophomore pitcher Matt Ernest pitches against Vanderbilt on Sunday at the Music City Classic in Nashville.  Despite three scoreless innings from Ernest, the Hoosiers fell 6-5 to the Commodores in extra innings.
IU sophomore pitcher Matt Ernest pitches against Vanderbilt on Sunday at the Music City Classic in Nashville. Despite three scoreless innings from Ernest, the Hoosiers fell 6-5 to the Commodores in extra innings.

Another game, another ranked opponent and another day where pitching by committee will be the name of the game for IU baseball.

That’s what the Hoosiers (4-6) will face Tuesday as the team makes another trip south on Interstate 65 to take on No. 11 Louisville (11-0) in the first of a home-and-home series against the Cardinals this season. Casey Smith, the freshman son of IU coach Tracy Smith, will make his first start on the Jim Patterson Stadium mound in a collegiate uniform in the 3 p.m. tilt, while freshman Justin Amlung will toe the rubber for the Cardinals.

Smith, the third-youngest member of IU’s squad, joined the team over the winter to help fill in a pitching roster depleted by last year’s Major League draft. The late addition of Smith, as well as sophomore football receiver-turned-pitcher Matt Ernest, has been especially helpful this season after projected No. 1 starter sophomore Blake Monar suffered an arm injury after the season’s first game in San Diego. The team still isn’t sure when Monar will return to the rotation.

Originally, Smith had planned to pitch in Bloomington this spring — but as a senior in high school ball at Bloomington High School North. He opted to graduate in December, though, and join his father’s team in desperate need of more arms.

Smith isn’t expected to fill a traditional starting role in the Louisville contest, as he pitched Sunday night against Vanderbilt. Instead, IU looks to trot out several pitchers — just as it did Sunday when seven different players worked the mound for the Hoosiers in the 11-inning, 6-5 loss to play host to Vanderbilt in Nashville’s Music City Classic. Smith’s performance Sunday consisted of 1.2 innings in which he gave up two hits and an earned run and struck out two.

The story is the same for the Cardinals on the mound which, like the Hoosiers, will play its fourth game in five days Tuesday. Amlung, the Cardinal starter, has yet to make a start in 2010 but has managed a 2.16 ERA in 8.1 innings of work.

— Geoff Miller

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