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March 26, 2014

‘A full night’: Leadoff hitter Curry leads 16-hit attack as Sycamores pound Hoosiers

TERRE HAUTE — Lead-off man Landon Curry had four of Indiana State’s 16 hits Wednesday afternoon, and cleanup hitter Mike Fitzgerald reached for the 17th straight game to lead the Sycamores to a 12-8 victory.

ISU pounded Hoosiers’ pitching all afternoon at Bob Warn Field beginning with the first plate appearance for the Sycamores.

Curry led off the bottom of the first with a single and the Sycamores (16-5) jumped ahead early on a double by Cody Zimmerman.

“I don’t think it’s any secret for any team that comes to play us, their first strategy is to keep Curry off base,” ISU coach Mitch Hannahs said. “If you can’t keep Landon off base, you’re going to be in for a full night.”

Terre Haute South grad Jacob Hayes smashed a double to the bottom of the fence in right field a few pitches after Zimmerman’s double off IU southpaw Sullivan Stadler, whom ISU chased in the fourth after he gave up five runs and six hits.

Hayes was happy to see the Sycamores respond well after losing two of three. Last week’s mid-week game against Illinois was an 8-0 loss so ISU wanted to get back on track.

Depth on the pitching staff is not yet a strength for the Sycamores, but Trent Lunsford struck out four and allowed one unearned run in a four-inning start.

“With our injuries in our bullpen — nothing against the pitchers we have — we know we have to score some runs,” Hayes said. “[Our pitchers] did a really good job today. I thought we were going to respond really well. We do a really good job moving on and focusing on the next opponent.”

Even the Sycamores’ outs were hard hit balls throughout the game.

Michael Eberle, a Terre Haute North grad, picked up an RBI with deep fly ball to center field to put ISU ahead 3-0.

ISU added a pair in the sixth when Zimmerman drove home two with a single.

In the sixth, Derek Hannahs, who went 2 for 4 with three RBI, hit a soft comebacker that bounced high and off the glove of pitcher Thomas Belcher. That brought home Fitzgerald from third to put the Sycamores ahead 6-1.

The Hoosiers (12-10), who were ranked as high as 16th in the nation following a win over Kentucky, got their offense going in the top of the seventh. IU put up four runs off the combination of A.J. McElderry and Josh Dove, who hurt himself with a throwing error on a routine play.

Hannahs liked how his team responded.

ISU added to its now narrow 6-5 lead in a hurry.

Curry led off with a single through the middle. Zimmerman bunted him to second and Hayes walked. Fitzgerald pulled a shot past a diving Dustin DeMuth at third base to give ISU a 7-5 lead.

Tyler Wampler reached on an error to score another run and Jeff Zahn gave ISU some big breathing room with a double down the left-field line.

“Fitz is huge for us offensively and behind the dish,” Zimmerman said. “There’s not a lot of pressure on one individual. If that person doesn’t get the job done, you can count on the guy behind you to pick you up. It’s just fun when we can put pressure on the team and keep the ball rolling.”

Zahn, a left-handed hitting first baseman, did a nice job going with a slider breaking away from him.

“Up and down the lineup tonight, we were very fastball efficient,” Hannahs said. “We got ourselves in positive counts. We hit balls pretty well. The other thing I really liked is when they came out of the bullpen with the matchups in the seventh inning with the left-on-left, right-on-right, slider-slider, I thought our guys did a nice job battling and putting balls in play.”

ISU snapped a two-game losing streak to the Hoosiers, evening the series at 2-2 going back to 2012.

The two squads play again April 9 at Bloomington.

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