May 20, 2010
Final Stats |
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Michael Earley and Ethan Wilson each hit two home runs as the Indiana baseball team took an 11-5 decision from Illinois on Thursday at Sembower Field. Alex Dickerson hit his 23rd of the season for the Hoosiers (26-24, 11-11 Big Ten), while Dylan Swift added his first career longball in the victory over the Fighting Illini (25-25, 9-13). IU scored all 11 runs on home runs, as they now have 79 dingers as a team this season.
Drew Leininger tossed eight solid innings in the victory. The sophomore improved to 8-3 on the year, striking out seven batters and allowing five runs. Illinois had just one extra-base hit off the southpaw, a two-run homer by Pete Cappetta in the top of the eighth. Earley led the Hoosiers with three hits, while Wilson, Jerrud Sabourin, Tyler Rogers and Brian Ritz each had two. Cappetta delivered three hits for the Illini.
Indiana is now approaching the school record of 82 home runs, set by the 1992 team that featured a pair of 20-homer players - Mike Smith (27) and Kevin Orie (20). Dickerson has matched Bill Mueller (1985) for second on the single-season homer list, and is just four behind Smith for the school record. His two-run blast was the 37th of his career, matching former MLB All-Star Mickey Morandini for fifth on IU's list.
The Hoosiers got on the board in the first with Earley's 11th homer of the year. Sabourin drew a one-out walk, and after a Dickerson flyout, Earley turned on a 2-0 pitch and mashed it over the wall in left to give Indiana a 2-0 lead.
Illinois countered in the third, loading the bases with nobody out on a pair of singles to right field and a bunt base hit. But Leininger battled back, getting a double play to score a run and make it 2-1, and following that with a strikeout of Aaron Johnson to end the frame.
The Hoosiers tacked on three more runs in the fourth. Earley led off the inning by turning on a 1-0 pitch for homer number 12. It marks the third multi-homer game for the senior co-captain and gives him eight conference home runs, third in the league. Josh Lyon followed with a single to left, and two batters later Wilson jumped on a first-pitch slider and lined it over the fence in left to make it 5-1 Indiana.
Again, though, Illinois battled back with a pair of runs in the sixth. The first three hitters singled, as Adam Davis drove in a run with his base knock to left field. Brandon Hohl then laid down a bunt, and Ritz's throw to first was high, again loading the bases with nobody out. Christian Cummins followed with a sac fly to left to make it 5-3, but Leininger induced a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning with no further damage.
The Hoosiers broke it open in the sixth, as Wilson led off the frame with his second homer of the day, giving him a pair of multi-homer games as well this season. After two outs were recorded, Sabourin walked, and Dickerson followed by crushing a pitch to dead-center field to make it 8-3. Then in the seventh, IU got two on and one out for Swift, and the junior turned on a 2-0 pitch and hit a towering shot over the wall in left for his first career home run at any level to make it 11-3. Illinois added a two-run shot from Cappetta in the eighth to result in the final score.
The Hoosiers are still right in the thick of the race for the Big Ten Tournament, with three evening games scheduled on Thursday in the conference. In the only other afternoon game in the Big Ten, Northwestern defeated Michigan State 2-1 to improve to 12-10 in conference play, while MSU is now 10-12. IU heads into the evening in sole possession of fifth place, a half-game ahead of both Ohio State (10-11) and Iowa (10-11).
IU and Illinois will do battle in game two of the series on Friday at 1 p.m. Game three is slated for Saturday at 1, when IU will honor its seniors prior to the game. Live audio and statistics for both games will be available on IUHoosiers.com.