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Monday, Feb. 26
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Baseball falls 8-5 to Kentucky, readies for Michigan State

After IU and Kentucky combined for 35 runs and 41 hits in last year's meeting in Bloomington, both teams put on another slugfest Tuesday.

However, the 2011 version saw the Wildcats (22-27) come out on top in an 8-5 victory over the Hoosiers (27-21) in Lexington, Ky.

The Wildcats outhit the Hoosiers 17-10 with seven of nine Kentucky starters recording multi-hit games.

Kentucky jumped all over IU freshman pitcher Brian Korte with leadoff home runs in each of the first two innings.

Korte exited after the first two frames, but the Hoosiers' bullpen couldn't keep Kentucky at bay. The next four pitchers IU sent to the mound each gave up at least one earned run.

"We didn't get a quality start, and that kind of forced our hand a bit," IU coach Tracy Smith said. "We are still trying to save the arms that are going to pitch the weekend, but we went to the pen way before we wanted to."

The Hoosiers tried to mount another late-inning comeback after scoring three runs in the eighth to cut the lead in half. With the heart of the IU lineup due up in the ninth, the Hoosiers weren't able to threaten as Kentucky's Alex Phillips retired the side in order.

The focus now for IU is squarely on this weekend's series with Big Ten-leading Michigan State (30-14, 13-5). The Spartans are fresh off a sweep of Purdue last weekend and have the No. 1 hitting and fielding squads in the conference.

The Hoosiers will send Joey DeNato, the reigning Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Week, to the mound Friday for his second consecutive series-opening start. The rest of IU's rotation will come on a game-by-game basis.

"If we have to use 10 pitchers to win Friday, we will use 10 pitchers," Smith said. "I'm not going to worry about Saturday or Sunday until we have the first day out of the way."

At 8-10 in the Big Ten, IU currently is tied with Penn State for the conference's sixth-place standing. Iowa and Northwestern, two teams IU beat in series this season, sit only a game behind the Hoosiers and the Nittany Lions. Purdue, Ohio State and Illinois make up spots three through five at 10-8.

Smith said last week his team had to win its final three Big Ten series in order to make the conference tournament, and he is not about to waiver from that with Michigan State looming.

"If we don't win that series, we severely damage our chances of extending our season," Smith said. "The way I see it is our postseason opportunities start Friday, and that's the way we are going to approach it." 

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