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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Smith shuffles rotation for weekend

Men's baseball vs. Louisville

In a season that stretches 56 games over four months, IU baseball coach Tracy Smith said he knew he would be forced to change his weekend pitching rotation at some point during the year.

That change will come this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., as Smith will send two pitchers to the mound to make their first career starts in Cream and Crimson.

Junior Chad Martin and freshman Brian Korte will start Friday and Sunday’s games respectively with junior Blake Monar pitching against host Tennessee on Saturday.

With the early season troubles of junior Drew Leininger and freshman Joey DeNato, Smith has sent a wake-up call that he’s not afraid to use his deep pitching staff.

“I’m not worried about it,” Smith said in reference to the rough outings from Leininger and DeNato. “The only worry standpoint you have is they need to worry because we have quality arms that are not starting.”

“My worry would be they better start getting it done because we have other guys that we can use. They are both very capable individuals, and they belonged on that first opportunity to start.”

Leininger, the lone returning weekend starter from last year, only went two innings in his last start against Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

DeNato has not made it past the fourth inning in either of his first two collegiate starts. However, the left-hander did get his first win Wednesday against Xavier when he came out of the bullpen to pitch 2.2 innings of one-hit baseball.

The 7-6 win against Xavier was even more impressive for the Hoosiers, considering 2010 Big Ten Player of the Year Alex Dickerson was not in the lineup. For the first time in his IU career, the junior was not on Smith’s lineup card due to a head injury, but he is expected to be back this weekend.

Dickerson and senior Jerrud Sabourin will be looking to get back on track in Knoxville this weekend.  

The two top hitters in the Big Ten last season have struggled during the early part of the 2011 season as they are currently sixth and seventh respectively in batting average for the Hoosiers.

IU will open up this weekend’s series against Morehead State on Friday afternoon. Out of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Eagles are currently 1-8 on the season with their lone win coming against Purdue.

Smith will send Monar, his most experienced starter, to the mound Saturday.

Tennessee is 5-1 on the season but was picked to finish last in the preseason in the SEC East division.

To round out the weekend, IU will be taking on the Bradley Braves on Sunday. Korte, a freshman out of North Bend, Ohio, will start for the Hoosiers despite having only pitched one inning of relief this season.

“We aren’t taking anything for granted this weekend, and I hope our focus is there from day one,” Smith said. “These are going to be three baseball teams that if we don’t come ready to play on the weekend, you could lose all three.”

Although IU will not be playing against any ranked teams this weekend, the Hoosiers know that series like this will go a long way toward achieving their goal of being among the nation’s elite.

“We want to be a top-25 team and to do that, we have to win the games that we are expected to win,” junior pitcher Matt Igel said.

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