Hoosiers and Boilers Clash at Sembower

    Go Hoosiers! Drew Leininger will square off with Matt Bischoff in the opener of the Indiana-Purdue series on Friday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Drew Leininger will square off with Matt Bischoff in the opener of the Indiana-Purdue series on Friday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 29, 2010

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    Purdue (24-16, 6-6) at Indiana (20-19, 6-6)
    Sembower Field • Bloomington, Ind.

    Friday, April 30 - 3:05 p.m. ET
    IU - LHP Drew Leininger (6-2, 2.13) | PU - RHP Matt Bischoff (6-1, 2.37)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Saturday, May 1 - 1 p.m. ET
    IU - TBA | PU - LHP Calvin Gunter (1-0, 3.92)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Sunday, May 2 - 1 p.m. ET
    IU - TBA | PU - RHP Drew Wurdack (4-2, 5.05)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    (starters are probable and subject to change)

    The Indiana baseball team (20-19, 6-6 Big Ten) will play host to a pivotal weekend series at Sembower Field, as arch-rival Purdue (24-16) comes to town for a three-game set. The Hoosiers have lost four of their last five games, including two of three to Minnesota in the Metrodome last weekend. Northwestern took two of three from Purdue in Evanston last weekend to pull into a tie for first in the über-tight Big Ten race. Seven teams are within one game of first place, and all five conference series this weekend feature one of the top seven teams. IU and PU are tied for fourth with Minnesota, though Iowa and Illinois are just one game back in eighth. A point in the Crimson and Gold Cup is also on the line this weekend.

    Indiana and Purdue have split their last four meetings. In 2009, the Hoosiers went to West Lafayette and lost game one, 15-8, before the Hoosiers rallied for a 7-6 win behind strong pitching from Eric Arnett in game two. The Hoosiers dropped the finale to Boilers 5-2, losing their only series of the year. The Hoosiers got revenge at the 2009 Big Ten Tournament, winning 9-1 in the opening round, on their way to winning the Big Ten Championship.

    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 124-144. In 13 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 441-365-1 (.547). Doug Schreiber has been at Purdue since 1998, where he has led the Boilers to the Big Ten Tournament in five of the last six years.

    All-America candidate Alex Dickerson is currently posting one of the most remarkable seasons in Indiana history. The left fielder is currently second in the Big Ten (behind teammate Jerrud Sabourin) with his .411 batting average and leads the conference in home runs (17), RBI (55) and slugging percentage (.810).

    Dickerson's 17 longballs entered this week fourth nationally, and with his 14th homer of the year against Valpo on April 13, he became the third Hoosier in school history (Mike Smith, Josh Phegley) to have two seasons with 14 or more bombs.

    With 17 homers in 39 games, Dickerson is on pace to become just the fourth player in school history to hit 20 homers in a season. His 31 career homers are tied for ninth in school history. He could potentially enter the school's top five in career homers (37) in just his second season.

    Though Dickerson struggled against the Golden Gophers, he left fans and players with a memory they will not soon forget. In Saturday's contest, he hit a 3-2 offering from T.J. Oakes seven rows deep into section 211 of the upper deck for what head coach Tracy Smith called the longest homer he had ever seen.

    But perhaps the most impressive part is what Dickerson has done while out of the batter's box. The Poway native played mostly at designated hitter last year, but worked hard to improve his defense in the outfield over the summer, and, though he struggled to pick the ball up off the roof in his Metrodome debut, has 66 putouts without an error this year.

    There may be no better turnaround in college baseball this year than the one put up by lefthander Drew Leininger. Just one year removed from posting a 9.91 ERA, Leininger has improved his numbers more than seven runs, posting a 2.13 ERA in 63.1 innings of work.

    Leininger had his first subpar outing of the year at Minnesota, as the Metrodome turf and ceiling and some well-placed groundballs saw him allow seven runs in 3 1/3 innings for just his second loss of the year. The southpaw is second in the conference in ERA and is third in the Big Ten with a .233 batting average against.

    Leininger also put together one of the most remarkable streaks in Indiana baseball history earlier this year. On March 30, 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.

    The Hoosiers entered the March 9 game against Louisville with just four home runs as a team and just one longball in the previous six games. Just six weeks later, that seems like a distant memory, as Indiana entered this week 30th in the country in homers and 23rd in longballs per game.

    Micah Johnson started the homer barrage against Louisville when he knocked two balls out of the yard, and IU has carried over that power surge and now leads the Big Ten with 54 homers. Indiana is currently in the running to break the school record of 82 homers, set in the 1992 season, when IU Hall of Famer Mike Smith led the nation with 27 longballs.

    The Hoosiers bashed five home runs against Miami, five at Morehead State and a Big Ten season-high six against Xavier. After not having a multi-homer game by anyone but Josh Phegley since 2004, IU has gotten two-homer games from Johnson, Jerrud Sabourin, Alex Dickerson, Michael Earley and Ethan Wilson over the last 29 contests.

    The Hoosiers have five players with at least six home runs, with Dickerson (17), Lyon (8), Johnson (7), Earley (6) and Sabourin (6) in that category. Indiana's 3-6 hitters (Sabourin, Dickerson, Earley and Lyon) have more home runs (37) than every team but Purdue (42) in the Big Ten. Dickerson alone has outhomered Northwestern (15) and Iowa (11) this year.

    In total, Indiana has hit 50 homers, eight triples and 62 doubles over the last 29 games for a .544 slugging percentage as a team. Twelve different players have gone deep, 13 different players have smashed doubles and five Hoosiers have tripled in the span.

    Indiana earned its first series win with a three-game sweep of Iowa two weeks ago at Sembower Field. It marked the third sweep in the last two years for the Hoosiers and the second straight time that IU has won all three from the Hawkeyes. Indiana outhit Iowa 41-26 in the series and just two of Iowa's hits went for extra bases.




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