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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Demuth’s move helps IU’s defense

After Iowa’s 4-0 win on Saturday, IU Coach Tracy Smith said he played the defensive lineup that gave his team the best chance to win.

That lineup included sophomore Dustin DeMuth moving to second base. DeMuth admitted it is a position he has never played.

“We’re young,” Smith said. “We’re not playing real well up the middle. We think DeMuth is one of our better middle infielders. What we did statistically is look at where most of the play is happening.

“With our pitching staff of left-handed pitchers, most teams try to go the other way. It made a lot of sense. Let’s put one of our best infielders over there, who has some maturity, and I think it paid off. He made two really nice plays up the middle. That was the reason, to hopefully get stronger up the middle.”

Tinkering with the lineup has been necessary because of IU’s youth and because, through 28 games, the Hoosiers have committed 61 errors, the most in the Big Ten.

Another factor is the loss of junior second baseman Micah Johnson, the Hoosiers’ preseason All-American, who had elbow surgery in March.

But DeMuth said his move to second base helps the team.

“Just being strong up the middle,” he said. “Good baseball teams have strong defense up the middle. He (Smith) wanted to move me to second, so I was all for it. It’s worked out so far.”

Smith said his team wasn’t playing well defensively up the middle.

Prior to the Hoosiers’ series against the Hawkeyes, DeMuth started the past 12 games at the hot corner. It was a position in which he started 48 games this past season, including 23 of 24 in conference play.

His shift to second base meant freshman Chad Clark has taken over at the hot corner.

“With that kid, there’s no timidness,” Smith said. “He plays the game like I wish a lot of our guys would play the game. Sometimes he’ll make a lackadaisical mistake because he’s not thinking, but he’s busting his tail.

“Once he settles in and gets comfortable and is not looking over his shoulder, you’ll start to see some of those types of plays. He comes at it almost like a reckless abandon. When you’re a freshman, he’s trying to prove everything. Once he just settles in, he’s going to take a lot of hits away over there.”

Meanwhile, DeMuth entered the series against Iowa batting .173.

Against Iowa pitching, he hit 8-11 with a double in each contest, scored two runs and had an RBI. His performances against the Hawkeyes improved his average to .229.

“It felt good to get out there and swing it well again,” he said Sunday. “(I’ve been) a little down in the dumps there for awhile. I’m glad to come out strong for the team and glad to get a win.”

DeMuth said plate discipline has helped him.

“Pitch selection,” he said. “There for awhile, I was reaching out of the zone, swinging at things that I normally wouldn’t swing at. Pitch selection has been better, and concentrating on my approach and going the other way.”

DeMuth’s numbers indicate he is becoming more comfortable at the plate.

“It definitely felt better going the opposite way,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life. To do that today, it felt really good.”

Smith said Sunday’s game for DeMuth was the best he’d seen him strike the ball consistently.

“That was more of the old Dustin DeMuth,” Smith said. “It’s baseball, and he needs to do that consistently for us. Any time you get four hits, that does a lot for your confidence.”

The Hoosiers will play a Ball State team Wednesday that has lost five in a row and 12 of their past 13.

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