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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers defeat Morehead State with Leininger’s 6-inning shutout

Baseball vs. Morehead State

IU baseball coach Tracy Smith called off a gem in the making Wednesday.

Fortunately for Smith, that decision ultimately didn’t hurt his team.

Junior pitcher Drew Leininger threw a one-hit shutout through six innings and retired his last 18 at-bats — 10 of them strikeouts — in leading the Hoosiers (25-12) to a 5-1 midweek victory against Morehead State at Sembower Field.

After the lefty opened the game with a single and a walk, none of the Eagles (5-29) could figure out Leininger.

“I felt like I was really just letting lose,” Leininger said. “I was really driving off my back leg and just throwing the ball. I was getting my fastball down, and then with that, the changeup was giving them all kinds of problems.”

Leininger’s performance continued a streak of brilliant starting pitching for IU. Since last Friday, Hoosier starters have surrendered just four earned runs in 35 innings of work.

Even with Leininger cruising, Smith decided to pull him in the seventh and bring in sophomore Jonny Hoffman.

Leininger’s streak would not continue. Hoffman allowed a single and then hit Morehead State’s Andrew Deeds to put two men on base with no outs, setting up an RBI single two at-bats later to end the shutout.

“I was upset that we pulled him because he would have had 15 or 16 strikeouts, I think, and we were rolling,” senior catcher Dylan Swift said. “They had absolutely a chance on him. ... That’s nothing against them; that’s all on Drew.

“Drew’s delivery, I can’t say enough about that.”

Smith said he wanted to save Leininger’s arm for use in the team’s next weekend series but acknowledged the slim 3-0 lead at the time.

“We keep saying ... we want to use some guys, but we never stretch leads out,” Smith said. “It must just be one of those years where we’re not going to, and at the same time, we’re still trying to play and get ourselves in the top 25, so it’s like we want to win every baseball game.

“Once (Leininger) got to a certain pitch count, we’d still like to have him available on the weekend, whether he is or not.”

Leininger agreed and said the long-term implications of a full outing outweigh the short-term benefits.

“I was thinking big picture,” Leininger said. “I’ve got a chance to help the team on the weekend. It’s tough. I was rolling like that, and you want to stay in and finish it, but big picture.”

While the decision provided a scare, the Hoosiers’ batters responded.

Swift hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the eighth as insurance before sophomore pitcher Casey Smith closed the game the next inning with IU’s 12th strikeout.
Swift’s double came with two outs, the fourth such hit for the Hoosiers’ offense on the day.

“Two-out hitting is kind of where we’ve been struggling a little bit throughout the year and even last year,” Swift said. “Two-out hitting is really what ... separates a team from another team. If you hit with two outs, you’re going to win a lot.”

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