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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU tries to snap losing streak

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The two Big Ten teams that have not lost back-to-back conference games sit atop the conference, as Minnesota and Michigan share the top spot. Michigan State’s sweep of the No. 19 IU Hoosiers caused IU Coach Tracy Smith’s team to fall out of the conference lead for the first time this season.

The Hoosiers fell six spots in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. They were also the last Big Ten team to lose two consecutive games this season.
Junior third baseman Dustin DeMuth said Sunday that it’s huge to be tied for third with Nebraska.

“We definitely set that as a goal, winning the conference outright,” he said. “We’re a game back, so we got a lot of work to do. Nebraska’s a good team. We just gotta play our game, and we’ll get back on track.”

The Hoosiers have not won the conference since 1949.

Wednesday’s contest against in-state foe Ball State at 3 p.m. in Bloomington is the first of six games against non-conference foes. With a win against IU, at 15-17, the Cardinals have a chance to near .500.

Senior shortstop Michael Basil said Sunday that the Hoosiers cannot allow the results from their weekend in Michigan to carry on to the rest of the season. BSU provides that first test.

“We’ve played like an average team ever since our Illinois loss — or, below average,” he said. “We definitely have not played up to our capabilities. We need to get back to playing good baseball.”

Though the Hoosiers are in the midst of their longest losing streak, each loss came by one run in walk-off fashion. The Hoosiers’ seven losses are by a combined 12 runs. IU is losing by 1.17 runs per game, not including the 12-7 loss at Georgia Southern on Feb. 22. They’ve lost five games by one run, and three of those came during bonus baseball.

The Hoosiers did not execute defensively over the weekend, Smith said.

“Therefore, you put yourself in position to get walk-off losses,” he said. “To me, that’s what comes out of this weekend ... It’s our poor execution in stuff we practice every day, that if you’re playing a tight ball game, it’s probably going to catch up with you.”

Smith said he’s been around baseball long enough to know his team won’t hit .320 every weekend. On the inevitable weekends where they struggle a little offensively, catching and throwing the baseball remains within their control.

“That’s where my concern is right now,” he said.

Freshman right-hander Christian Morris is scheduled to make his first career start, and sophomore catcher Kyle Schwarber is slated to be the designated hitter against Ball State.

DeMuth said Sunday that the Hoosiers cannot wait until the last innings to score runs and start playing hard.

“We just need to execute in the early innings,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of base running mistakes, made a couple errors on bunts and just didn’t make the plays we normally do. We just need to get back to playing Indiana baseball.”

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