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Sunday, May 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers return to Sembower Field to take on Evansville

Baseball vs. Michigan

After 20 road games, the IU baseball team is coming home.

For IU coach Tracy Smith and the Hoosiers (13-7), it’s better late than never.

IU’s home opener is at 1:05 p.m. Sunday against Evansville, but only as the finale in a three-game series with the Purple Aces. The Hoosiers travel to Evansville for a double-header Saturday.

Smith said the team is glad to usher in baseball season to Bloomington after a taxing travel schedule early in 2011.

“You get tired,” Smith said. “We don’t want to make excuses and whatever, but it does take a toll on you. It takes a toll on you not only physically but also mentally because of the academics and things and always trying to stay on top of that.

“We’re ready to play at home. I hope the weather is nice so we can get a nice crowd, but we’re ready to play a couple of home games.”

A recently added home contest against NAIA’s Shawnee State on Wednesday gives the Hoosiers 18 games at Sembower Field this season, the longest stretch being five games between April 20-26.

While IU can get a bit more comfortable within familiar confines, so can the teams it will play often in both weekend and midweek games, Smith said.

“We’re trying to set ourselves now for the conference, so yeah, pretty much the same lineup the guys have been playing across there,” Smith said.

That includes the starting pitchers.

After experimenting during the season with the bullpen driving much of the pitching staff’s success, IU seems to have found good fits and thus production that has vaulted the Hoosiers to third in the Big Ten in total pitching.

Junior pitcher Drew Leininger, a weekend starter in 2010, could see more midweek duty. Leininger improved to 2-0 in midweek starts Wednesday, allowing no runs on three hits in the Hoosiers’ 10-2 victory against Ball State.

And the weekend rotation? Smith said it’s likely freshman Brian Korte has earned one of the three spots.

The lefty from North Bend, Ohio, made the most of his appearance in Florida, tossing a complete game in IU’s 9-2 win against Pittsburgh.

Smith said Korte projects well as the Hoosiers’ Sunday starter.   

“We’ll probably roll with that,” Smith said. “He did a good job in that. It allows us to shape up some things that we like in terms of our bullpen. He did a nice job, and he didn’t do anything pitching-wise to hurt himself.

“We like him there and feel he gives us the best chance to win out of that three spot.”

If IU sticks to its plan, Korte will be the first Hoosier pitcher to take the mound at Sembower Field in 2011 as the team wraps up its affair with Evansville.

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