Big Ten Slate Opens at Bart Kaufman Field
March 21, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
INJDIANA BASEBALL RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Hoosier Baseball continues a four-game homestand with the start of Big Ten play on Friday (4:05 pm), playing host to the Michigan Wolverines (8-12-1) for a three-game weekend series. Indiana (10-8) is coming off a 9-3 win over #9 Louisville Wednesday at Bart Kaufman Field, IU's third victory over a nationally-ranked opponent this season.
Both schools were predicted for solid conference finishes in the Big Ten Coaches Preseason Poll. Indiana was tabbed the league favorite while UM came in a tie for fifth. The Hoosiers have swept Michigan the past two seasons and IU's seniors are 8-1 in their careers versus the Wolverines. Michigan's last series win over Indiana was in 2010.
The Big Ten Network is making its first of six appearances in Bloomington this season, broadcasting the 1:05 pm Sunday showdown. Friday and Saturday's contest will be streamed by HoosiersTV on IUHoosiers.com. In addition, GameTracker live stats and Twitter updates (@IUBaseballNews) will be available.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCH-UPS
Friday, March 21 - 4:05 pm ET
Sr., LHP Joey DeNato(3-1, 1.95) vs. r-Sr., RHP Ben Ballantine (2-0, 2.08)
Saturday, March 22 - 2:05 pm ET
So., LHP Kyle Hart(2-1, 2.59) vs. So., LHP Evan Hill (1-2, 4.4)
Sunday, March 23 - 1:05 pm ET
So., RHP Christian Morris(0-1, 2.75) vs. Jr., LHP Trent Szkutnik (0-3, 3.24)
The state of Kentucky has been very kind to the Hoosiers thus far in 2014. Indiana has tallied three nationally-ranked wins this season, two coming over Louisville and the other against Kentucky. In addition, IU tallied an 8-3 triumph over Toledo in a neutral-site contest in Louisville, Ky. In the past two seasons Indiana has won five of six meetings with the UL Cardinals.
Indiana's staff earned run average of 2.69 is not only best in the Big Ten, but leads by a large margin. The next clostest team ERA is over a half run back, Ohio State's 3.33 clip. Scott Effross and Joey DeNato lead the charge with the conference's fifth- and seveth-best individual ERAs of 1.71 and 1.95, respectively. Luke Harrisonpaces IU with a 1.29 ERA but his 14 innings pitched are just shy of the minimum required to qualify for the league rankings.
Kyle Hart ON A ROLL
In the last two weeks, Kyle Harthas accumulated two wins, a save and 13 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched. He has allowed just one earned run (two total) during the hot streak. His win over Kentucky last week garnered him Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors. Hart's .157 batting average against overall this season is tops in the conference.
A QUANTITY OF QUALITY
Staff ace Joey DeNatois one of 19 pitchers nationally to contribute a `quality start' (at least six innings with three or less earned runs) in each of his first five starts this season. Three others are currently 4-for-4 in 2014.
BASE PATH THIEVERY
Casey Rodrigue broke loose during IU's road series victory at Jacksonville, stealing five bases in as many attempts; including a 3-steal day in game two. It marked the first Hoosier to swipe three bags in a game since Micah Johnson did so vs. Evansville on March 27, 2011. The Louisiana native led all of NJCAA D-II and D-III with 68 stolen bases for LSU-Eunice in 2013. For the season, Rodrigue ranks third in the Big Ten with seven steals.