Hoosiers Open 2010 Campaign at No. 23 USD

    Go Hoosiers! Blake Monar is slated to throw the opener for the Hoosiers against USD.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Blake Monar is slated to throw the opener for the Hoosiers against USD.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 18, 2010

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    Indiana at No. 23 San Diego
    Cunningham Stadium • San Diego, Calif.

    February 19 • 2 p.m. PT
    IU - LHP Blake Monar | USD - RHP A.J. Griffin
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    February 20 • 10 a.m. PT
    IU - LHP Matt Igel | USD - LHP Sammy Solis
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    February 20 • 2 p.m. PT
    IU - TBA | USD - RHP Kyle Blair
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    February 21 • 10 a.m. PT
    IU - RHP Walker Stadler | USD - TBA
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Indiana begins its defense of the 2009 Big Ten Tournament title with a four-game set at No. 23 San Diego from Feb. 19-21 at Cunningham Stadium. The Hoosiers finished the 2009 season with a 32-27 mark and won their first conference title since 1996 by steamrolling the competition 47-9 over the four-game affair in Columbus, Ohio. IU returns three position starters and 15 letterwinners overall from the 2009 squad.

    This will mark the first meeting between Indiana and USD in the history of the two programs. The Hoosiers last played in San Diego on Feb. 18-19, 2000, as part of the San Diego Classic, hosted by San Diego State. The Hoosiers fell to SDSU, 5-2, and lost a 7-3 decision to Oklahoma State in their last trip to "America's Finest City."

    IU last traveled to the Golden State in 2008 for the Pepsi Johnny Quik Classic in Fresno, where the Hoosiers went 4-2 and took third place in the Classic. Indiana also played two games against host Fresno State on that trip, meaning that the Hoosiers are 4-4 in California in Tracy Smith's tenure.

    Tracy Smith is in his fifth season as Indiana baseball's head coach. In 2009, he led the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten Tournament title since 1996 and the second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. In his four years at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 104-126. In 13 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 421-346-1 (.549). Rich Hill is in his 12th year at USD and his 22nd year as a collegiate head coach. Hill owns a 382-261-3 (.620) overall record in his time at the helm of the Toreros.

    Indiana has not won its season opener since 2005, when IU knocked off DePauw in Bloomington on Feb. 22. Overall the Hoosiers are 72-42-1 in season openers entering the 106th campaign in program history. IU is 4-8 in season-commencing series in Coach Smith's tenure, including a 2-1 record in last year's Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge and a win over No. 34 LSU in 2007. IU is 51-32-1 all-time in the month of February.

    With the influx of players from California on the Hoosiers' roster, some on the team have joked that IU should change its name to "Cal State Bloomington." Indiana has four players making a homecoming trip this weekend, as greater San Diego natives Jerrud Sabourin (San Diego/Torrey Pines), Alex Dickerson (Poway/Poway), Drew Leininger (Poway/Poway) and Jonny Hoffman (Oceanside/El Camino) will be playing close to home at USD. The Hoosiers also have two signees for the class of 2010 - Joey DeNato (San Diego/Torrey Pines) and Reed Reznicek (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista) - from the greater San Diego area.

    With seven draftees and eight players overall moving to the professional ranks, the Hoosiers obviously have a lot of talent to replace in 2010. Indiana returns just three of its nine regular starters this year.

    IU's offensive attack will be led by Second Team All-Big Ten selections Alex Dickerson and Jerrud Sabourin. The 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Dickerson and his 14 home runs return to the IU lineup, though the former designated hitter is likely going to see the majority of his time in left field in 2010. Sabourin, a .362 career hitter, is looking to show he is one of the top pure hitters in the Big Ten this season. Tyler Rogers is the third returning regular, as the second baseman hit .314 with five homers a year ago.

    IU also has several talented veterans expected to step into bigger roles this season. Among the players expected to move into starting roles are co-captains Brian Lambert and Michael Earley. Lambert started 22 games last year and played in 40, hitting a robust .345 and scoring 19 runs. Earley played in 30 games, hitting .276 with 11 RBI in a limited role. Another key player back for the Hoosiers is Ethan Wilson, who went down with an ankle injury in the fifth game of the 2009 season and posted just 10 at-bats.

    Overall, IU's returners had a collective .326 batting average, .392 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage in 1,010 at-bats in 2009. IU returns 44 percent of its home runs and 48 percent of its hits from a year ago.

    Then-freshman Alex Dickerson was among the most highly touted prospects in IU baseball history heading into the 2009 season, and he did not disappoint. The Poway, Calif., native set an IU freshman record with 14 home runs to go along with a .370 batting average and 57 RBI. He was the first Hoosier in school history to take home Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, and he was named a Freshman All-American following the season. Dickerson also picked up third team All-Mideast Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association.

    Dickerson earned Preseason All-America honors from Ping!Baseball, clocking in as a third teamer. He was also recognized by the conference coaches in College Baseball Insider's annual poll. Dickerson was a unanimous choice as one of the biggest power threats in the conference in addition to being named one of the best pure hitters and one of the hitters you don't want to face.

    Jerrud Sabourin had a stellar freshman year in 2008, picking up Freshman All-America honors after hitting .383 and leading all conference frosh with 53 RBI. The first baseman followed up on that in 2009, as he earned second team All-Big Ten honors for his performance. He finished among the league leaders with a .343 average and 85 hits.

    Sabourin's path to the Hoosiers was a bit unconventional, as the San Diego native originally committed to Arizona as a pitcher, but was cut on the first day of fall practice. Hoosier skipper Tracy Smith saw the lefty in a workout and offered him a roster spot as a walk-on at the winter break before the 2008 season.

    Sabourin did not start in his first game as a Hoosier, but came off the bench to go 2-for-2 against LSU in Baton Rouge. He started the next day and has started every game since then at first base, a total of 118 starts, the longest active streak of any Big Ten player. His .362 career average is just outside the top 10 in IU's all-time records.

    Last season's Hoosiers showed strong results down the stretch, but for most of the year there was not a lot of competition for spots in the lineup. To kick off the 2010 campaign, there appears to be a lot more up in the air, and people will be fighting for playing time on offense.

    According to Coach Smith, the only three spots in the field that are pretty well solidified are Brian Lambert in center field, Alex Dickerson in left and Jerrud Sabourin at first. The other six spots are still open for competition heading into the opening weekend of the year.

    At catcher, it is a three-man race to fill Josh Phegley's shoes, with juniors Dylan Swift and Wes Wilson and sophomore Josh Lyon battling for the starting spot. Swift saw the most time of the three last year, hitting .240 in 23 games. Wilson went 4-for-12 in his time at the plate and did not allow a passed ball on the season while Lyon, who worked hard on his receiving behind the plate in the fall, knocked six doubles in his 11 base hits on the year.

    Returning starter Tyler Rogers and Ethan Wilson, who started five games before an injury last year, are both in the mix to secure starting spots in the infield, but freshmen Michael Basil, Micah Johnson and Jerry Kleman are all fighting for the final starting spot and will push the returners for time as well. Basil and Kleman are both very strong defensively and Johnson is one of the team's top athletes.

    Co-captain Michael Earley is likely to secure a spot at either designated hitter or in right field, but he is getting a strong push from juniors Sterling Mack and T.C. Knipp and freshman Justin Cureton, while Lyon is a likely DH should he not get the nod behind the dish.




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