Hoosiers Head to Evanston for Three with Wildcats

    Go Hoosiers! Jerrud Sabourin and the Hoosiers will take on Northwestern for a pivotal three-game set this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Jerrud Sabourin and the Hoosiers will take on Northwestern for a pivotal three-game set this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 6, 2010

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    Indiana (21-21, 7-8) at Northwestern (20-25, 9-6)
    Rocky Miller Park • Evanston, Ill.

    Friday, May 7 - 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET
    IU - LHP Drew Leininger (6-3, 3.38) | NU - LHP Jack Havey (2-0, 3.93)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Saturday, May 8 - 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET
    IU - TBA | NU - LHP Eric Jokisch (3-5, 4.68)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Sunday, May 9 - 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET
    IU - TBA | NU - TBA
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    (starters are probable and subject to change)

    The Indiana baseball team (21-21, 7-8 Big Ten) will head to the road against first-place Northwestern (20-25, 9-6) for its first of two straight vital weekend series. The reigning Big Ten Tournament Champions are currently in a tie for sixth place - the final spot in the conference championship - with just three weeks remaining. IU has only won one series this year, a three-game sweep of Iowa, but has managed to take one game out of three in each of the other four series. The Wildcats are the surprise of the Big Ten so far this season, as they sit in a tie with Michigan for the conference's top spot after taking two of three from Penn State, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois the last four weekends.

    Indiana took all three games against the Northwestern Wildcats last year in a series sweep in Bloomington. The Hoosiers got two dominating pitching performances, from Eric Arnett in game one and in game two, Matt Bashore struck out a career high 10 batters in the win against the Wildcats. With those two wins it clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, which the Hoosiers claimed in dominant fashion in 2009.

    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 125-147. In 13 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 442-367-1 (.546). Paul Stevens is in his 23rd season as the head of the Northwestern program, where he has a 573-669-6 record and is the school's all-time winningest coach.

    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 .413 batting average and leads the conference in home runs (18), RBI (57) and slugging percentage (.804).

    Dickerson's 18 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. His 18 homers are tied for fifth on the school's single-season list.

    With 18 homers in 40 games, Dickerson is on pace to become just the fourth player in school history to hit 20 homers in a season. His 32 career homers are tied with his former teammate, Josh Phegley, for eighth in in school history. He could potentially enter the school's top five in career homers (37) in just his second season.

    Though Dickerson struggled in the Minnesota series, 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. He added an opposite-field home run in the Purdue series as one of his seven hits on the weekend.

    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 73 putouts without an error this year.

    Though the Hoosiers lost two of three games to Purdue over the weekend, Indiana showed a huge amount of comeback ability in the series. In the opener, IU rallied from an 11-4 deficit to bring the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning of a 12-10 loss. In the Saturday game, the Hoosiers trailed 11-7 with two outs in the ninth, only to rally for the tying run with four runs in the bottom of the final frame. Chris Squires then added the finishing punch in the 11th, driving in Tyler Rogers to send the Hoosiers to a walk-off, 12-11 win. In the series finale, IU again rallied to tie the game with two outs in the ninth, as Jerrud Sabourin laced a two-run double with his back against the wall, but the Hoosiers fell in 10 innings, 10-7.

    Q HIM UP
    After a midweek start at Xavier in March 2009, senior Chris "Q" Squires moved into the bullpen full-time for the Hoosiers, and since that time he has emerged as one of the top closers in the Big Ten. On April 10 against OSU, he came on for a scoreless bottom of the 10th to post his 16th career save, setting a new IU record.

    The Ft. Wayne native had one of his gutsiest performances in the Saturday doubleheader against Iowa. After getting a save with three Ks in game one, he picked up the win in game two with a career-high six Ks on 93 pitches in 4 1/3 innings of work.

    As if he hadn't done enough to earn recognition, he ratcheted things up a notch on Saturday against Purdue, pitching two scoreless innings for the win and helping his own cause. With the Hoosiers out of position players and having forfeited the DH earlier in the game, Squires came to the plate with the winning run on third and one out in the 11th. In his first collegiate at-bat, he ripped a liner through the drawn-in infield to send IU to a 12-11 victory. He is striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings.

    Indiana knew it had recruited one of the most athletic players in the state when it signed Indianapolis Park Tudor prospect Micah Johnson, but the Hoosiers have gotten more than athleticism and talent out of the freshman. Johnson has shown a propensity to play better when he is angry, earning him the nickname "The Bull" from broadcaster Jeremy Gray.

    Johnson had played exclusively in the middle infield and outfield before this spring, but the IU coaching staff put him at third base for the season opener against San Diego, and he has started every game there this season.

    In his first chapter in the IU-Purdue rivalry, Johnson went 9-for-17 with two homers, two doubles and a triple. In the opener, he finished a double shy of the cycle in his second career two-homer game. Johnson made even more of an impact in crunch time, hitting a two-run single with two out in the ninth of game two, then motoring all the way around from first to score the tying run. In game three, he again scored the tying run from first on Jerrud Sabourin's two-run double.




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