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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Pitching leads IU into Michigan

Baseball vs. Shawnee State

The IU baseball team leads the Big Ten in team fielding and stands third in the conference in team pitching.

Yet, IU coach Tracy Smith is still looking for improvement in those areas as the Hoosiers (16-8) open Big Ten play this weekend with a three-game series against Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“We need to be better defensively,” Smith said. “We were playing well early in the season. We were solid defensively.”

Smith’s comments came on the heels of IU’s 12-8 home victory against NAIA Shawnee State on Wednesday; the Bears scored eight runs on 14 hits. Junior pitcher Drew Leininger allowed Shawnee State batters 10 hits before claiming his third win of the season.

But sure enough, errors played a factor.

The Hoosiers committed three errors in each of their two midweek games, both of which were added to the schedule last week. Three of Shawnee State’s eight runs Wednesday were unearned.

Junior outfielder Josh Lyon, who went 3-for-4 against Shawnee State, said opponents’ good hitting could have lead to such a large amount of errors.

“That’s a recipe for errors with any team if you do that a lot,” Lyon said. “We’ll definitely turn the corner with the defense and be sharp.”

Smith said what perhaps has helped opponents like Shawnee State, Northern Kentucky and Evansville get in scoring position on IU is the Hoosier pitchers’ recent tendency to walk batters. IU has averaged more than four walks in its last four games.

“We’ve got to cut our walks down,” Smith said. “We’re walking too many people. We did it (Tuesday) and we walked some guys (Wednesday), and that’s the only thing that’s going to get you beat. That’s something I want to see us really focus on as we head into the Big Ten.”

However, a positive trend on the mound that has translated to the field is the pickoff throw. Hoosier pitchers have retired 22 base runners on pickoff throws, led by freshman Joey DeNato’s eight, which is as many as the closest Big Ten team.

Senior catcher Wes Wilson said the issue would resolve itself.

“Pitching-wise, our pitchers are going to throw strikes,” Wilson said. “It’ll be fine. Our guys on the weekend have always done a good job.

“I think it’s important that we do minimize that, or else the Big Ten teams will make us pay for it.”

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