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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers win first game of home-and-home

Despite surrendering early unearned runs, freshman left fielder Chris Sujka and junior short stop Michael Basil combined for four hits, a home run, three RBIs and three runs to rally the IU baseball team past Eastern Kentucky, 6-4.

IU Coach Tracy Smith said he was happy to see his team’s bats respond to the early
mistakes.

“We needed to (respond) because we gave them freebies, but they were early enough that we could still put pressure on offensively,” Smith said. “We were very fortunate to come out of today with a win with the way we played defensively.”

After going 1-2-3 in the top half of the first, the IU middle infield came out sloppy.

With one out, EKU’s John Wilson reached on short stop Michael Basil’s throwing error. After Richie Rodriguez flied out to center, Jacob Daniel tripled to left center to drive in Wilson. Daniel later scored on a throwing error by IU’s second baseman, freshman Chad Clark, to give EKU a 2-0 lead.

Basil said the early error drove him to pick up his play.

“I was pretty upset with myself about it,” Basil said. “You either got to get over an early mistake like that or pick up your performance. I wasn’t going to let it affect me.”

IU would respond in the second with two outs, when Sujka belted his fourth home run of the season to deep center field to put the Hoosiers on the board, 2-1.

In the top of the fourth, Sujka would make the game even at two by driving in Dillon Dooney on a RBI ground-out to short. Dooney, who led off with a walk, got to third after freshman Sam Travis singled to left and junior Justin Cureton sacrifice bunted to give IU second and third with one out.

Sujka, who now leads the team with 18 RBIs, said batting with runners in scoring position makes a hitter’s job easier.

“If you can put the ball into play, the runner can usually come around to score,” Sujka said. “As a hitter, you don’t have to look for hits in that situation. You just need to put it in play.”

The Hoosiers struck again for two runs in the fifth when Basil scored from first base on a throwing error off an attempted Will Nolden sacrifice bunt. Nolden moved to third on the error and was driven in by freshman catcher Kyle Schwarber on a single to center past a diving second baseman to make it 4-2.

In the bottom half of the inning, EKU loaded the bases with nobody, but IU junior Jonny Hoffman induced a ground ball double play with his submarine pitching style. The double play scored a run, but Hoffman got out of the inning with the Hoosiers up 4-3.

IU and EKU would exchange runs in the seventh inning to make it 5-4. For IU, Travis drove in his eighth RBI of the season with a two-out single through the right side of the inning on an outside fastball. EKU’s Sean Hagen retaliated with a two-out homer, his first of the season.

After Basil’s third hit of the game — an RBI double to center — in the top of the eighth gave IU a two-run cushion, sophomore pitchers Ryan Halstead (one inning and a third) and Matt Dearden (one inning) combined to close the door on the Colonels by recording the last seven outs without a hit, including a ground ball double play to end the game 6-4.

Hoffman (1-1) got the win for the Hoosiers after coming in to relieve freshman starter Luke Harrison (three and two-thirds innings, two runs, zero earned runs, two hits) in the fourth inning with two outs. Hoffman only surrendered one run in his two and a third innings while giving up two hits and hitting a batter.

The IU bullpen will be challenged again tomorrow as IU and EKU will travel to Bloomington to finish off the home-and-home series. The game will be IU’s first game of the year at Sembower Field.

Hoffman said returning home is going to feel great.

“It’s been a tough stretch of 20 games in a row on the road to start the season,” Hoffman said. “I think we are going to play a lot better, and I think the freshmen will feel a lot more comfortable at home.”

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