Baseball Travels to Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge

    Go Hoosiers! Drew Leininger is slated to start on Friday against West Virginia.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Drew Leininger is slated to start on Friday against West Virginia.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 25, 2010

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    (Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fla.)

    Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 • 1 p.m. - Indiana vs. West Virginia
    Clearwater, Fla. - Jack Russell Stadium
    IU - LHP Drew Leininger (0-0, 0.00) | WVU - RHP Jarryd Summers (0-0, 2.45)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010 • 10 a.m. - Indiana vs. Villanova
    St. Petersburg, Fla. - Progress Energy Park
    IU - RHP Walker Stadler (1-0, 4.50) | VU - LHP Kyle Helisek (0-0. 0.00)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010 • 10 a.m. - Indiana vs. Connecticut
    St. Petersburg, Fla. - Naimoli Complex Field #3
    IU - TBA | UCONN - RHP Bob Van Woert
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Indiana returns to the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge for the second year in a row this weekend. The Hoosiers (1-3) will take on West Virginia (0-3), Villanova (3-0) and Connecticut (0-0) in the event, which takes place in parks throughout the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area. For tickets and more information, go to

    IU opened its season with a four-game set against No. 23 San Diego at Cunningham Stadium last weekend. After the Toreros took the first three games of the series, the Hoosiers responded with a 7-5 win in the series finale. It marked Indiana's first win over a ranked, non-conference foe since toppling No. 34 LSU in the finale of the season-opening three-game set in 2008.

    The Hoosiers went 2-1 at the 2009 Challenge, defeating Georgetown (12-4) and South Florida (9-7) but falling to West Virginia (4-14) in the Challenge opener. Junior Josh Phegley earned All-Tournament honors after going 6-for-11 in the three games, while then-freshman Alex Dickerson was given honorable mention after going 5-for-13 with his first career home run and five RBI.

    The 2009 meeting between the Hoosiers and Mountaineers is the only matchup of the two squads in the history of the two programs. IU and Villanova have met twice all-time, with the Hoosiers taking both matchups (7-2 and 9-8) in March 1987. Indiana has taken on Connecticut once, falling 18-10 on March 14, 1998.

    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 105-129. In 13 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 422-349-1 (.547).

    Saturday's game against Villanova will feature live streaming video available on with Sean Stires on the call. Live audio and GameTracker for all Hoosier games is also available on

    A year removed from being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, sophomore Alex Dickerson enjoyed a big weekend at the plate for the Hoosiers in San Diego. The Poway, Calif., native hit two home runs and three doubles in posting a .421 batting average and an .895 slugging percentage in the four-game set against one of the top pitching staffs in the nation.

    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.

    The lefty 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 wasn't the only San Diego native, or even the only former Poway Titan, to put up a stellar performance in his return to his hometown. Drew Leininger, who played alongside Dickerson on one of the top high school teams in the nation in 2008, had a strong debut to his 2010 season, shutting out San Diego for the better part of the second game of Saturday's doubleheader.

    Leininger came on with one out in the bottom of the second and proceeded to put zeroes on the board in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. By the time he was done, he had tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, surrendering five hits and striking out four without allowing a walk. Thanks to his efforts on the mound, the Hoosiers were able to bring the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning of a game that they trailed 7-2 early on.

    Leininger struggled in his debut season, going 0-2 with a 9.91 ERA in 15 appearances, but he has impressed in both indoor work and the opening weekend, as his fastball is about 4-5 MPH faster than it was last year. Leininger was Poway's Pitcher of the Year in his senior campaign.

    Just because his fellow San Diego natives were enjoying their homecoming didn't mean that Jerrud Sabourin was going to take a backseat. The Torrey Pines High School grad went 6-for-13 with his first homer of the 2010 season over the four-game set, and also made a pair of brilliant defensive plays at first base - where he was identified by Baseball America as the Big Ten's top defensive player at the position heading into the 2010 season.

    The lefty who head coach Tracy Smith describes as a "bigger bodied Mark Grace" was in the midst of a quiet weekend headed into the series finale with the Toreros when he came up big for Indiana. With the Hoosiers clinging to a 5-3 lead in the seventh, Sabourin hit a towering flyball that cleared the fence in right field to give freshman pitcher Mike McKinley some breathing room when he entered the game. Then, with IU up 6-4 in the ninth, Sabourin delivered an insuance run with a two-out RBI single that helped closer Chris Squires deliver the save in a 7-5 victory.

    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. His five home runs trailed only teammate Kipp Schutz among conference newbies. He 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. 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 122 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.




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