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Thursday, May 30
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Hoosiers crush, sweep Wolverines on the road

The IU baseball team used effective pitching, an onslaught of hitting and consistent defense to complete the three-game weekend sweep of the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“They have been making a better effort in practice and in pregames on working on the approaches at the plate and staying on the baseball,” IU Coach Tracy Smith said. “We were able to get results out of that all weekend, and it’s one of those things where we feel like we are playing much better.”

Game one of the series was all sophomore pitcher Joey DeNato.

In eight innings of work, the left-handed sophomore pitcher from San Diego broke the school record for most strikeouts in a conference game by fanning 12 Wolverine hitters.

Freshman catcher Kyle Schwarber said DeNato’s performance Friday was just another example of “Joey being Joey.”

“When he’s on, he is spotting his off speed stuff and his fastball so well that he’s completely unpredictable because he can throw anything for a strike,” Schwarber said.
“Joey is just a great pitcher, and I’d say that he is one of the most feared pitchers in the league right now.”

As a team, the Hoosiers posted 13 hits on the game, including four players who had at least two hits in the game and six hitters who drove in at least one run.

DeNato (7-1) said the team’s bats changed the complexion of the game early and allowed him some leeway on the mound.

“Our hitting really set the tone by scoring a lot of runs early on,” DeNato said. “It makes your job easier as a pitcher when you don’t have to strike everyone out or have to worry about runners on base. You can use your defense behind you, so it’s definitely nice to have a cushion.”

After rain postponed game two of the series until Sunday, the Hoosiers started the first game of the double header the same way they finished game one — pounding the ball.

Behind starter Kyle Hart’s (3-4) six inning, three run performance, IU put up 11 runs on Michigan, including a seven-run fourth inning that busted the game open and helped the Hoosiers win 11-8.

Overall, eight of the Hoosiers’ nine starters had at least one hit and one run.

Freshman first baseman Sam Travis also added his eighth home run of the season in the top of the first inning to get the Hoosiers on the board early.

After Hart’s outing, sophomore pitcher Ryan Halstead entered the game in the seventh and closed the final three innings of the game to earn his first save of the season.

Smith said Hart and Halstead did a good job of being aggressive against Michigan to be effective, even without their best stuff.

“I thought Hart was doing a really good job of getting ahead of people, but he still needs to get better at putting people away,” Smith said. “Both guys hung around in there and battled to give us a chance to win.”

In the series finale and game two of the double header, Cureton stayed hot and led the Hoosiers with three hits, two RBI, a stolen base and one run as IU completed the weekend sweep with a 11-5 win.

Cureton, who had seven hits in the double header, said the team has been working hard on not giving up easy outs to their opponents, and he tried to keep his own approach simple.

“As the lead-off man, my approach was very simple because I just need to get on base,” Cureton said. “Skip’s been talking all week about hitting the ball hard, not far, and this weekend we did that well.”

Schwarber said the key to the success the IU staff had this weekend was the ability to work in on the hands of Michigan hitters while changing speeds and locations.

“They were controlling the inside part of the plate, which is huge to have success in this league,” he said. “Jam shots now will be pop-ups instead of home runs with the new bats, so it’s important to control the inside part of the plate.”

As the Hoosiers prepare for their series against Nebraska next weekend, Schwarber said the team has gained all the momentum it could want heading into a tough matchup.

“This gives our whole team confidence going into next week’s series against Nebraska, which is important because they are a very good team coming in,” Schwarber said. “Right now, we have all the confidence on our side. If we take this same approach, we will be very successful next weekend.”

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