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Wednesday, May 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU welcomes Ball State for Big Ten break

Baseball

Two days removed from driving in 26 runs to avoid a Michigan sweep and open the Big Ten last weekend, the Hoosiers (13-13) look to keep the offense rolling in a 3 p.m. matchup at Sembower Field against in-state rival Ball State Cardinals (11-15).

The Cardinals have won five of their last six games, including a sweep of Miami (Ohio) last weekend in the Mid-American Conference opener. They are led offensively by second baseman Kolbrin Vitek, who leads the MAC in total bases and has an OPS of 1.184 through 26 games. He is expected to be a top pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.

“Kolbrin is definitely a guy that can hurt you,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “If there comes a time where we have a base open or it’s an RBI situation, our pitchers won’t be giving him anything good to hit.”

The Hoosiers’ starting pitcher is going to be a game-time decision. They will likely go with multiple pitchers throwing a couple innings each. The staff is still recovering from the weekend, where IU used nine pitchers, three of whom are position players, against Michigan.

Whoever is on the mound will be backed up by a much improved defense — one that didn’t commit an error this past weekend after averaging close to two per game going into the series.

“The defense has definitely improved,” Smith said. “Things could be much worse. If we can get our pitchers to get the other team to put the ball in play and let our defense take care of it instead of dishing out walks, we’d be set. But you can’t defend a walk.”

Last year, Ball State beat the Hoosiers 5-4 in the opening game of the Austin Peay Invitational. The Cardinals rallied from a 4-1 deficit to come back and score four runs in the final three innings. The Hoosiers will look for revenge and to build some momentum before they go back into Big Ten play against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday.

“So much of this game has to do with consistency and momentum,” Smith said. “This will be a big game for us to get back to being focused and building on Sunday before we face a very tough Ohio State team this weekend.”

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