Hoosiers and Wolverines Set for Conference Opener

    Go Hoosiers! Dylan Swift and the Hoosiers play host to Michigan this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Dylan Swift and the Hoosiers play host to Michigan this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 2, 2010

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    Michigan at Indiana
    Sembower Field • Bloomington, Ind.

    Friday, April 2 - 3:05 p.m. ET
    IU - RHP Walker Stadler (3-2, 4.91) | UM - RHP Alan Oaks (3-3, 2.79)
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    Saturday, April 3 - 1 p.m. ET
    IU - TBA | UM - LHP Bobby Brosnahan (2-2, 4.15)
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    Sunday, April 4 - 1 p.m. ET
    IU - LHP Drew Leininger (3-1, 1.22) | UM - TBA
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    The Indiana baseball team begins its 2010 conference slate this weekend, as it plays host to Michigan for a three-game set. The Hoosiers and Wolverines represent the last two Big Ten Tournament champions. IU is coming off a 5-4 loss at the hands of No. 8 Louisville, in which the Cardinals hit a go-ahead homer with two outs in the top of the ninth. Indiana has won seven of its last nine entering conference play. Michigan has won seven straight contests, including weekend sweeps of Fordham and IPFW and a midweek win over Eastern Michigan.

    The Hoosiers have not won their conference-opening game since 2007, when IU took a 2-1 decision over Michigan State. Tyler Tufts threw a complete game against the Spartans in that victory. Indiana has split its last two conference-opening series, taking two of four from Minnesota in 2008 and one of two last season against the Gophers before the Sunday finale was rained out. The last time that the Hoosiers emerged victorious in their conference-opening series was in 2002, when Indiana took three of four from Illinois at Sembower Field.

    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 116-137. In 13 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 433-357-1 (.548). Rich Maloney is in his eighth season at U-M. Maloney and Smith have a long history, having competed against each other as players in college and the pros and as coaches in the MAC, when Maloney was at Ball State.

    Indiana went to Michigan at the end of April last year and took two of three from the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. IU lost the opener, 6-2, as the Hoosier defense spoiled a strong start by Blake Monar and Wolverine ace Chris Fetter held off the Hoosier offense. IU took game two 8-7 behind a strong performance from Eric Arnett and clutch innings out of the pen from Chris Squires, then took the series win 3-1 thanks to Matt Bashore's impressive mound outing on Sunday. Michigan holds a 123-60 advantage in the all-time series, including eight in a row from 2004-08, but IU has rallied to win four of the last six meetings with the Wolverines.

    When Indiana University signed the top pitcher and hitter for one of the best high school teams in the nation in 2008, the Hoosiers knew that they were getting a pair of quality players who could help them toward the top of the Big Ten. But the return that IU has gotten out of Poway (Calif.) High School's Drew Leininger and Alex Dickerson this season has been extreme, as the two are among the top pitchers and hitters in the conference this year.

    Both also picked up honors over the last week, as Leininger earned a spot on the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year Watch List and Dickerson was named Big Ten co-Player of the Week on Monday. Leininger is one of three conference pitchers on the Watch List, joining Ohio State's Alex Wimmers and Northwestern's Francis Brooke.

    The recent streak put together by sophomore Drew Leininger is one of the most remarkable in Indiana baseball history. On Tuesday, he saw his scoreless innings streak snapped at 28 2/3 with a two-run homer off the bat of Louisville's Andrew Clark. The scoreless streak is the best on record in Hoosier history. He did not allow a run - earned or unearned - between the second inning against West Virginia on Feb. 26 and the ninth inning against Louisville on March 30, a span of 32 days.

    A year removed from posting a 9.91 ERA, Leininger has improved his numbers more than eightfold, posting a 1.22 ERA in 37.0 innings of work. His ERA is tops in the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally heading into this week - when he had a 0.79 ERA. He is also second in the conference with a .206 batting average against and is sixth with his 37.0 innings of work.

    No Hoosier enjoyed the Florida sun more than left fielder Alex Dickerson. The Preseason Third Team All-American went 14-for-30 (.467) with three doubles, five home runs and 15 RBI in IU's seven games at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.

    He followed that up with a career-best four hits against Morehead State and had a three-run homer against Xavier. Against Saint Francis, he went 2-for-4 with a double, he had a 3-for-4 day against Taylor and added two hits against Louisville. He has now hit safely in 17 straight contests with 10 consecutive multi-hit games. He is in the running for the conference triple crown, as he leads the conference with 10 HR and 33 RBI and is third with a .429 average.

    The lefty set an IU freshman record last year 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. He is currently 15th in school history with his 22 career longballs.




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