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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Michigan State visits Sembower Field for Big Ten clash

baseball

Michigan State has played one less Big Ten series than Indiana, which only adds to the importance of this weekend’s series at Sembower Field against the Spartans.

Junior shortstop Michael Basil said the Hoosiers cannot afford to come out sluggish this weekend.

“That’s definitely going to be a big issue,” he said. “Although (Indiana State University was) 26-7 (coming into Wednesday’s game), I think Michigan State is obviously tougher competition.

“It’s going to be very important to come out with a good start, especially
defensively.”

A big focus for the team will be to minimize the amount of free Spartan base runners, Basil said. On Sunday, IU Coach Tracy Smith said he wanted his team to be more consistent at the plate.

Basil said the Hoosiers accomplished that against the Sycamores.

“I thought we did pretty well,” he said. “I don’t think many people were swinging at pitches that were too far out of the zone. I can recall one or two, which isn’t too bad throughout the span of a game. It’s a big deal in hitting. If you’re getting a good pitch to hit, if you’re not swinging at good pitches, you’re not going to drive the ball.”

Freshman right fielder Chris Sujka delivered the game-winning hit, a walk-off bunt single. Smith said he hoped the hit would help Sujka going into the weekend, and Basil said he believed in his freshman teammate.

“Sujka’s been struggling lately, but he’s a good hitter,” Basil said. “I have all the confidence in the world in him. He is the best bunter on our team, too. That was a perfectly placed bunt.”

In a close game such as Wednesday’s, when a Hoosier reaches base, Smith can call upon junior Micah Johnson to pinch run.

When the Baseball America Preseason All American is on base, batters behind him will probably see more fastballs, as pitchers and catchers are worried about his ability to steal bases, Johnson said, like he did Wednesday when he stole second.

“I think (the pitcher) kind of had to rush,” Johnson said. “It gets him out of his element, too, because when I got to second he had to worry about, ‘OK, is he going to steal third?’ That causes the hitters to get better pitches. A fastball for a strike? We can hit those. Base-running and base-stealing can lead to a better approach at the plate.”

The Spartans lead the Big Ten with a 3.01 ERA. The Hoosiers’ ability to steal bases could play a big role in this series, Smith said.

“We’d missed (Johnson) so much this year, to get on there, be able to steal a base and not have to give up an out and put us in a position to win a baseball game,” Smith said.

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