Thursday, February 25, 2010

Preview: West Virginia

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 • 1 p.m. - West Virginia
Clearwater, Fla. - Jack Russell Stadium
IU - LHP Drew Leininger (0-0, 0.00) | WVU - RHP Jarryd Summers (0-0, 2.45)
GameTracker | Live Audio

With staff ace Blake Monar nursing a sore shoulder and Leininger coming off what was arguably the best outing of his young career, the sophomore left-hander will get the ball on Friday against West Virginia and make his first start of the season. Leininger threw 5.2 innings of scoreless relief last weekend at San Diego, and he will be looking to build on that performance against a Mountaineers squad that is 0-3 and in search of their first win in 2010.

West Virginia opened the season last weekend by taking part in the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Conway, SC, which featured games against quality competition in the likes of #12 Coastal Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia Tech. While the Mountaineers dropped all three contests, they played nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina to a score of 4-2 behind 3.2 innings of one-run baseball from Jarryd Summers, who will start Friday against the Hoosiers.

Led by Coach Greg Van Zant, who is in his 16th season at West Virginia and has compiled 450 career victories, the Mountaineers enter 2010 coming off a 2009 campaign in which they went 37-18 overall and 17-10 in the Big East, good for a third place finish in the conference standings. West Virgina returns 13 lettermen from last year's squad, including 9 pitchers and 4 position players. They were picked to finish 6th in the Big East in the annual conference preseason coaches' poll.

Key returnees for West Virginia include Dan DiBartolomeo (who started all 55 games last season and hit a robust .439 with 8 HR, 18 2B, 59 RBI and just 14 strikeouts), Colin Durborow (.351 with 10 doubles in 74 at-bats last season), Grant Buckner (.325 with 5 HR, 21 2B and 45 RBI a year ago) and preseason All-American and Big East Player of the Year Jedd Gyorko (.421, 8 HR, 28 2B and 58 RBI last season). On the mound, senior relief pitcher Chris Enourato returns as the school's all-time leader in saves and was named to the preseason watch list for the National Collegiate
Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award.

Summers is a 6'5" 220-pound junior right-hander who went 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA, a .239 OBA and 99 strikeouts against 34 walks in 14 starts and 94 innings pitched last season. Those are certainly impressive numbers and they garnered Summers all-Big East first team honors, but it is worth noting that Summers did yield 11 longs balls a season ago as well. Another thing that may work in IU's favor is the fact that the Hoosiers have seen Summers before, albeit in a losing fashion. In last season's Big East/Big Ten Challenge Summers defeated the Hoosiers by allowing just one earned run on 6 hits in 5 innings of work.

This will be a tough match-up for the Hoosiers, but by no means do I not think this is a winnable game for IU. Let's hope they get a better start to the weekend this time around. Go Hoosiers!

Click here for a Big Ten/Big East Challenge preview, West Virginia style. There's a lot of good info there on the Mountaineer baseball team if you are interested.

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