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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU aims to end slide against Purdue

The IU baseball team isn’t panicking much about its four-game losing streak.
The story hasn’t really changed much all season.

In advance of a weekend series with Big Ten-leading Purdue in West Lafayette, IU coach Tracy Smith said his team’s recent skid might have more to do with the nature of baseball than with any shortcomings by the Hoosiers (25-16, 6-6).

“Right now, we’re just not getting it done,” Smith said. “I can’t believe that we’re going to go the entire season going 1-for-11 or 12 every single game. It’s going to change. Hits will fall, and we’re just in a little bit of a rough stretch right here.”

Indeed, IU has had a tough time finding the timely hit both in being swept by Minnesota last weekend and in falling 10-3 to Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday. The Hoosiers have been outscored 30-8 and have suffered a 46-28 disparity in hits during their last four losses.

“We’re not getting the hits when we need them,” senior catcher Wes Wilson said. “(Tuesday) we hit the ball well, had some hard-hit balls that just didn’t get through, and that’s going to happen when you’re in slumps like these as a team.”

Inconsistency at the plate has been an issue for IU all season, but the team has also cited the need for batting and fielding to complement each other more effectively.

Wilson pointed to such an exchange against Miami when the RedHawks scored three runs on a two-out single in the fourth inning, just after the Hoosiers had scored three runs in the third.

“I think that’s something that kind of breaks your back early on,” Wilson said. “Whether or not you do admit it right then, it has a little effect on their momentum, and it takes away some of yours. We just weren’t able to recover from that (Tuesday), and Minnesota was kind of the same type of stuff.

“Something doesn’t go our way, and right back on the other hand, it goes their way, and they build on that and capitalize on every mistake we made.”

Senior catcher Dylan Swift agreed the laundry list of things that have gone wrong has put the team in a funk.

“I guess kind of like the old saying, ‘When it rains, it pours,’” Swift said. “I think we’ve played fairly solidly, and I guess when our pitching’s there, our hitting’s not there, and when our hitting is there, our pitching’s not there.”

IU will get the chance to put both elements together against the in-state rival Boilermakers (27-13, 7-5), who share a tie for first in the Big Ten.

Whether that happens is up to the outcome of a strength-on-strength matchup. Purdue leads the conference in total hitting and ties for tops in home runs, while the Hoosiers rank in the top three in pitching and fielding.

“For us, nothing changes,” Smith said. “We’ve got to throw strikes, and our defense has to be solid. We’ve got to eliminate some of our put-away. When we’re in our put-away counts, we’ve got to stop giving up the (0-and-2) and the (1-and-2) base hits.

“They’re a very, very good hitting team. Their pitchers have always given them a chance to go, but I don’t think we’re going to drastically try to change anything other than keep pitching it well, keep picking up the baseball, and then hopefully this weekend, we get some key hits when we need them.”

Swift said a little hate alongside focus wouldn’t hurt.

“We hate them, they hate us,” he said. “We don’t like playing them, they don’t like playing us just because we can’t stand looking at them. It’s just that intense.

“We want to win all three, but we’ve got to win the series just to stay in the race, because I think they’re going to be at the top of the conference towards the end of the year too because they’re a very good team.”

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