May 26, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Drew Leininger tossed an eight-hit shutout to lift the Indiana baseball team to a 5-0 victory over Northwestern in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday at Bill Davis Stadium. Michael Earley went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles in the victory, while Alex Dickerson reached base four times for the Hoosiers. IU will take on top-seeded Minnesota at 7:05 p.m. in the second round on Thursday.
Leininger scattered eight singles and allowed just two walks, striking out six in his second complete-game victory of the season. He also improved to 9-3 on the season, moving into a tie for fourth on the Hoosiers' single-season list in victories. Eric Jokisch was carded with the loss, surrendering 14 hits and five runs in eight gritty innings of work for the Wildcats.
Every player in the lineup had at least one hit, while Dickerson, Jerrud Sabourin, Tyler Rogers and Ethan Wilson each had a pair of hits for IU. Wilson had a two-run single as well for the Hoosiers. Chris Lashmet had a pair of hits for NU (24-31). The Wildcats will play Purdue in an elimination game on Thursday at noon.
Indiana struck quickly for four runs in the top of the first inning against Jokisch. Micah Johnson drew a leadoff walk and Dickerson was hit by a pitch with one out to put a pair on for Earley. Jokisch fell behind the senior 2-0, and Earley pulled the next pitch through the left side to score Dickerson and make it 1-0. After a Josh Lyon groundout moved Earley and Dickerson into scoring position, Rogers delivered an infield single to third to plate Dickerson for a 2-0 lead. Rogers then moved into scoring position on his 10th stolen base of the year, and Wilson looped a single into center to push the lead to 4-0 in what was a 45-pitch first inning for Jokisch.
Leininger got into early trouble in the first with the Wildcats getting a pair of singles, but he bounced back to get a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end the inning. He and Jokisch went back-and-forth from then on, both allowing hits but managing to emerge without any damage until the seventh inning. Sabourin and Dickerson got things going with back-to-back singles with two down in the seventh, and Earley ripped the next pitch through the right side to bring Sabourin home as an insurance run in a 5-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Rogers delivered what might have been the best defensive play of the season. With one away, Chris Kontos crushed a line drive to deep center, and Rogers, who is in just his third week in center for the Hoosiers, sprinted back and made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch to preserve the shutout. Leininger got a groundout to end the frame, and after a leadoff walk to start the eighth, retired the final six men in order to put the game in the books.
The Hoosiers will take on regular-season champion Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Thursday in a game that will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Live audio and statistics will also be available on IUHoosiers.com.