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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU looks to shake Evansville loss

Baseball vs. Evansville

The IU baseball team was not left with much time to turn around following Sunday’s quasi-doubleheader against Evansville.

As the Big Ten portion of the Hoosiers’ season looms, IU coach Tracy Smith worked two extra midweek home games into the schedule beforehand, the first of which comes at 3:05 p.m. today against Northern Kentucky.

Senior catcher Wes Wilson, who batted in the game-winning run in IU’s 6-5 extra-inning victory in the first game against the Purple Aces, said the new midweek games eliminate the problem of a schedule gap before the Hoosiers open their first conference series this weekend.

“I think it’s just we want to be rolling into Big Ten play and be ready for Michigan up in Ann Arbor,” Wilson said. “It’s something where we don’t want to take a whole four or five days off in between games heading into the most important week thus far in the season.”

The contest with Northern Kentucky, along with the second schedule addition Wednesday against NAIA school Shawnee State, also offers IU a chance to work out some kinks at the plate before tackling the conference slate.

And such work is necessary, players said.

In the Hoosiers’ two games last weekend against the Purple Aces — the second of which resulted in a 7-5 loss — the team did not match its opponent’s efficiency at the plate.

IU recorded nine and 11 hits, respectively, to Evansville’s 16 in each game.

Starting slow at the plate perhaps has factored into the equation. Despite a knack for winning close games — the Hoosiers are now 5-1 in extra-inning affairs — Smith and players have expressed a need to get hits in earlier innings.

In Sunday’s loss, the Hoosiers had five hits to Evansville’s 12 through six innings before a four-run, four-hit seventh frame put the Hoosiers back in it.

Although they have been able battle back late, Wilson said they can’t keep putting themselves in a hole.

“We were seeing the ball all right,” Wilson said. “I think that we had a couple of hard-hit balls that just weren’t falling. Lately, we’ve been kind of a slow-starting team and we pick up at the end of games, and that’s why we come back in the seventh, eighth and ninth (innings). That’s something we’ve got to get started early.”

Other problems presented themselves as well.

Sophomore second baseman Micah Johnson, the Big Ten Player of the Week, ironically cited one of his personal strengths as a team weakness against Evansville that could be addressed this week.

Johnson stole six bases, giving him a Big Ten-leading 14 on the season, and scored six of IU’s 11 runs last weekend en route to the award, but he said team base running cost the Hoosiers a few chances late in the second game Sunday.

“It’s hard to tell as a spectator, but we had a lot of mental mistakes ... that kind of cost us a couple of runs,” Johnson said. “I feel like coming into Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ve really got to sharpen those up going up to Ann Arbor.”

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