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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Monar, DeNato lead IU to third Big Ten series win

Behind a complete game from junior Blake Monar and an 11-strikeout outing from freshman Joey DeNato, the IU (23-12, 6-3) baseball team won its third straight Big Ten series to open up the conference season.

Inclement weather in Iowa City, Iowa, forced the Hawkeyes (13-20, 3-6) and the Hoosiers to play a doubleheader Sunday after Friday night’s series opener was pushed back to Saturday afternoon.

Monar was caught in a pitcher’s duel Saturday as he and Iowa’s starter Jarred Hippen both went the distance for their respective teams.

The 124-pitch complete game was needed from Monar, as the Hoosiers struggled to score against Hippen and the Hawkeyes.

Monor said pitching to contact was the key to his longevity.

“I gave up a run early and then started getting a bunch of ground balls, which allowed me to go deep in the game,” Monar said. “My pitch count was low after the eighth, and I was able to come out and close it out.

Tied at one in the top of the sixth inning, IU got consecutive singles from junior Alex Dickerson and sophomores Micah Johnson and Michael Basil, who plated the eventual game winning-run for a 2-1 victory.

The Hawkeyes struck early in game two of the series on Sunday with a lead-off triple against IU starter Chad Martin.

The triple led to Iowa’s first run and the eventual 2-1 victory. The loss marked the ninth time in 10 games that IU has lost when giving up a run in the opening frame.

“Saturday was a well-played gamed on both sides, and we got the timely hit and they didn’t,” IU coach Tracy Smith said. “Then it really flipped around during the first game (Sunday). We had a couple opportunities but just didn’t get it done.”

After a pair of 2-1 games to start the series, the IU offense erupted for six runs on 15 hits in its 6-0 series-clinching victory Sunday afternoon.

Senior Jerrud Sabourin’s 3-for-5 day at the plate moves him into a tie for first place in school history with 306 career hits.

Sabourin’s offensive output wasn’t necessary, though, as his fellow Torrey Pines High School teammate, DeNato, showed why he was a High School All-American.

With the No. 3 spot in the IU rotation up for grabs, DeNato made his case Sunday with an eight inning, four-hit shutout.

“He was masterful and did what he wanted, when he wanted, with whatever pitch,” Smith said. “He had four pitches working today, and that was as good as I’ve seen him in an Indiana uniform.”

The series win puts IU tied at the top of the Big Ten standings with five more series left in the 2011 season.

“You don’t want to get greedy, but you can’t complain too much with getting two of three this weekend,” Smith said. “If you win two out of three all the way through, then you are in pretty good position to the win the league.”

Next up for Smith and the Hoosiers is a pair of non-conference games this week starting at Louisville on Tuesday before taking on Morehead State on Wednesday afternoon.

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