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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU searches for Sunday starter

Baseball vs. Indiana State

Two series into the Big Ten season, IU baseball coach Tracy Smith has settled on most of his team’s lineup.

One spot that remains unsettled, though, is the Sunday starting pitcher.

Smith has shuffled among multiple pitchers, mainly freshmen, in the third weekend slot and said he wants to get different players there as the conference slate continues this weekend with a road series against Iowa.

The Hoosiers (21-11, 4-2) might still deploy freshman Matt Dearden, who has started the third games in each of IU’s last two weekend series. Dearden has gone 2-1 in decisions, one win coming in his first career start against Michigan, and has posted a 5.32 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched. However, Smith said the job might not be closed for good.

Brian Korte, another freshman to have seen time this season as the third weekend starter, still intrigues the coach as an option on the mound on Sundays.

“The kid’s competitive, and quite honestly, he’s going to push some of our current weekend guys,” Smith said. “So guys need to be on top of their games this weekend or we’re going to throw the guy out there that gives us the best chance to win. We feel really good about what (Korte) is doing on the mound right now.”

The lefty from North Bend, Ohio, is 1-1 after making five starts, the first of which was a complete 9-2 win March 14 against Pittsburgh in Winter Haven, Fla. He also started the finale of IU’s home-and-home affair with Evansville on March 27.

Korte said he felt good about his chances at the coveted weekend spot following his most recent start Wednesday against Indiana State; he pitched six shutout innings but also had an eight-inning no-hit streak that lasted two games snapped.

“We have a great staff,” he said. “It’s nice when you can take somebody out and get someone else right back in it that’s as good as you. Definitely it’s competitive, but it’s good for our team.”

Korte’s closest observer Wednesday, senior catcher Wes Wilson, was impressed with the pitcher’s six shutout innings.

“He was locating,” Wilson said. “He was missing a lot of barrels, locating the outer half of the plate and working in (when) he needed to.”

While players still might rotate in and out of the third weekend pitcher slot, Dearden appears the likely starter Sunday against Iowa.

He will face Trevor Willis, who has hit a Big Ten-leading five triples and four .300-plus batters who have appeared in more than 20 games.

The Hawkeyes (12-18, 2-4) also deploy an aggressive third weekend starter themselves. Matt Dermody, who stands 3-3 with a 5.36 ERA, ranks second in the conference in strikeouts with 43 on the season.

The weather forecast in Iowa City might hinder; projections include lows in the 40s and rain.

“That’s not going to be fun, but I think that we’ll be fine,” Wilson said. “We’ve played in enough games like that this year, so we’re ready to get going and kick some Hawkeye tail.”

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