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Hoosier Baseball gets back to winning ways

May 6, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An impressive pitching performance, some timely hitting and solid, if not spectacular defense keyed the Indiana University baseball team (26-19, 7-9) to a 5-0 win over Northwestern (14-26, 6-10) in the series opener on Friday afternoon.

In his first stint as a series-opening pitcher, freshman Joey DeNato lived up to the billing of a "Friday night starter" … and then some. The 5-foot-10-inch southpaw carved up the Wildcats through eight shutout innings; scattering six hits and three walks while striking out seven. He faced just 30 batters in the eight-inning shift, picking off a runner and being the beneficiary of two double plays. It marked the 10th pick-off for DeNato this season and the 27th for Indiana as a team. The next closest school in the Big Ten has a TEAM total that merely matches DeNato's 10 pegged runners.

The Hoosier bats got after it a bit as well, paced by Micah Johnson's 3-for-3, two-RBI day at the plate. Johnson's first hit came with two outs in the second inning when he tomahawked a top-spin single into left, arching over the shortstop's reach before diving in front of the left fielder. Ty Downing then completed the two-out rally and gave IU a 1-0 lead by drilling a double into center, allowing Johnson to race around the diamond all the way from first.

Indiana was steady defensively throughout the entire ballgame, but began to make sensational plays in the fifth. It was Johnson in the spotlight once again, leaping to snare a line drive before flipping the ball to Michael Basil covering second base and doubling up the Wildcats to end the inning. Justin Cureton was next to flash the leather, making up a ton of ground in chasing down what looked to be a surefire NU hit. Cureton went horizontal, however, laying out to reel in the second out of the sixth inning on a diving play.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Jerrud Sabourin, or "Scooter" as his teammates call him, scooted around to third base for a triple on a one-hopper to the wall in the right field gap. Who else, Micah Johnson advanced him the final leg, sending a ball deep into the outfield for the sacrifice fly and 2-0 Hoosier lead.

Northwestern started a rally in the eighth, putting two men aboard with no outs. A popped-up bunt attempt followed though, giving Downing the opportunity to quickly get out of his crouch, grab the pop up and fire to second base for Indiana's second unconventional double play of the day. DeNato then fanned the next batter to close the door on Northwestern.

The Hoosiers broke out for three runs in the bottom half of the eighth. Michael Basil powered a two-RBI single through the left side of the infield while Johnson tallied hit number three and his second RBI to finalize the scoring at 5-0.

Ryan Halstead came on for the ninth, executing a 1-2-3 frame and securing the IU victory.

Game two of the weekend series has been moved up to a noon first pitch. The Big Ten Network is making its way to Sembower Field and will nationally broadcast the contest between IU and NU in live high-definition.