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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU baseball looks to avenge season-ending loss to Illini

Baseball vs. Ball State

For the first time in 11 months, the Hoosiers will play the team that ended their season last year when they play the University of Illinois Fighting Illini.

Last season’s series knocked the Hoosiers out of Big Ten Tournament contention. That memory is still fresh in the players’ minds as they enter Champaign, Ill., with a slightly bigger chip on their shoulders.

“We’ve talked about it before,” junior shortstop Michael Basil said. “(His teammates) know how (the Illini) did it. It was the last series. It was painful. Losing on two walk-off home runs and two runs in the bottom of the eighth in a game is not the way you want to end a season. We remember that. We’ve talked about it with the younger guys before. Nothing more necessarily needs to be said to them.”

The Illini like to wreak havoc on the base paths, ranking first in the Big Ten with 66 steal attempts. Illini base runners also lead the conference in times they’ve been caught stealing — 25 times. Their success rate of 62 percent places them in third.

“You got to do the little things now,” IU Coach Tracy Smith said. “It’s not just going out and executing your pitch. You got to limit runners, their ability to time you up.

“Illinois’ always fast. They always have a good base-stealing team. That’s something we’ll definitely prepare for.”

Sophomore reliever Walker Stadler said the Hoosiers’ pitching staff won’t be too affected after Wednesday’s game against Ball State that lasted 15 innings.

“Some of us only went two innings, so we can bounce back.” Stadler said. “We’ll get a day off for a travel day. We’ll be excited to get back on the bump.”

Stadler also said the key to striking out 19 Ball State hitters during IU’s past game against the Cardinals was to get ahead of the hitters, and the Hoosiers’ success will give them confidence entering weekend play.

“It’s great,” he said. “We only gave up one hit in the last six innings, so it’s great to take into this Big Ten weekend and keep our streak going.”

Basil said it was great to get a win like that after playing so many innings.

“Games that long that are sometimes excruciating to get through, those are ones you need to get wins in,” Basil said. “That was huge for the morale of this team heading into this weekend, too, to pull out a win in a game like that because you never want to lose those games.”

Despite having one of those games, he said there will not really be a change in how the Hoosiers prepare for their third Big Ten series.

“There’s a long game, and you’re tired, but nothing major,” he said. “You’ve got to go on just like it was a nine-inning game. We’re still preparing the exact same way this weekend. We need to pay them back for last year.”

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