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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers swept away by Green Wave

New Orleans might be called the “Big Easy,” but nothing came easy for the IU baseball team this weekend when they were swept by the Tulane Green Wave in three excruciatingly close games (3-2, 9-8, 6-2).

“It’s frustrating, but it reemphasizes the point that we are trying to make with our team,” IU Coach Tracy Smith said. “When you are playing a higher level of competitive baseball, there’s going to be two or three key moments that will determine the game.”

All weekend, Smith said, Tulane was able to capitalize on every Hoosier mistake, while IU was unable to take advantage of Tulane’s.

In game one, Tulane jumped on IU starter Joey DeNato with three first-inning runs on four hits. Those three runs proved to be enough for the Green Wave as the Hoosiers could only muster two runs on three hits, losing 3-2.

After a wild first inning, DeNato (1-1) settled in and did not allow Tulane to score another run in his four innings of work, while sophomore Matt Dearden and senior Drew Leininger combined to close the door on the Green Wave throughout the final four innings.

Offensively, junior second baseman Michael Basil had two of the Hoosiers’s three hits, and juniors Micah Johnson and Justin Cureton drove in the only two runs, but Smith said the team’s approach at the plate needs to improve, as the team finished with nine strikeouts.

“One think that stuck in my mind was how hard (Tulane) was to pitch to,” Smith said. “I think our team can learn from the approach that they had at the plate, because we need to become better disciplined.”

Tulane started game two like game one — this time jumping out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning.

Unlike game one, the Hoosiers responded in the very next inning, during which freshman left fielder Chris Sujka drove in freshman catcher Kyle Schwarber, and then center fielder Cureton made it back-to-back two-out RBI singles when he drove in freshman infielder Collin McEnery from second.

After trading runs to make it 5-3, Schwarber blasted his first career home run, a two-run shot, to spark a five-run fifth inning that also included Sujka’s second home run of the season to give the Hoosiers their first lead of the series.

The lead was short-lived, as the Green Wave responded to the Hoosiers’ big inning by scoring two runs in the seventh and one run in the eighth inning to knot the game at eight runs apiece.

After the Hoosiers squandered opportunities in both the ninth and 11th innings — leaving two runners on base in each of those innings — Tulane took advantage of its only legitimate scoring chance after the eighth inning.

With one out in the bottom of the 12th, IU’s Brian Korte walked back-to-back batters. The walks prompted Smith to replace Korte with sophomore right-hander Reed Reznicek.

Reznicek struck out the first batter he faced, but walked the following batter after a Tulane double-steal left first base open. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Reznicek could not retire Tulane’s designated hitter Andrew Garner as Garner ended the game with a walk-off line drive single to right.

Smith said Garner’s simple approach at the plate made him a tough out all weekend, but especially in the clutch.

“He had a very simple approach and took exactly what the pitcher gave him,” Smith said. “He has great plate coverage and isn’t afraid to shorten his stroke to put the ball in play.”

After dropping a pair of games, IU and starting pitcher Kyle Hart took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning of the series finale. In the seventh, Hart could only record two outs before being replaced by sophomore Aaron Slegers.

Entering with a man on second, Slegers could not record an out as Tulane’s Jeremy Schaffer lined a single to center that Cureton could not handle — advancing Schaffer to third on the error. After a walk, Garner followed with a single to left, putting Tulane on top 3-2. Tulane tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the eighth to complete the sweep of the Hoosiers with a 6-2 game-three victory.

One offensive bright spot for the Hoosiers was first baseman Trace Knoblauch’s four hits in seven at-bats. Knoblauch, who also added an RBI in game three, said facing a team that repeatedly takes advantage of your mistakes can be frustrating.

“It’s kind of rough when you hurt yourself, because we played well besides those few mistakes,” Knoblauch said. “It’s kind of disheartening when they are capitalizing and you aren’t.”

Hart, who allowed only two runs on six hits in six and two-thirds innings, said the experience of playing a very solid Tulane team tightly early in the season will help the team’s confidence later in the year.

“I feel like early in the season a team like (Tulane) kind of strangles you when you make a mistake,” Hart said. “Playing against that kind of team for an entire weekend is only going to bring us up to that level.”

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