Cox' Walk-Off Slam Leads Hoosiers to Semifinals
May 23, 2008
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Tyler Cox hit a walk-off grand slam to lift the Hoosiers to an 11-8 victory over Penn State to advance the Hoosiers to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Earlier in the day, Josh Phegley went 4-for-4 with two home runs and six RBI in a 14-7 win over Illinois as Indiana has now won nine of its last 10 games. The Hoosiers will take on Purdue at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
Cox was able to redeem himself with his first career grand slam, hit off one of the top closers in college baseball in PSU's Drew O'Neil. In the top of the ninth, with the score tied 7-7, Rick Marlin hit a grounder to Cox that the senior misplayed and Cory Wine came across to score the go-ahead run and make it 8-7. That followed a two-run double by Wine to right center that tied the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, O'Neil gave up singles through the left side to Tyler Rogers and Michael Earley, and Ethan Wilson followed with an infield single to load the bases with one out. Cox fell behind the first team All-Big Ten hurler 1-2, then blasted a fastball to deep left field and over the wall for his third home run of the season to send the Nittany Lions home for the summer. It marked the first walk-off homer for the Hoosiers since Eric Blakeley hit a three-run shot against Illinois in 2002.
Wilson was spectacular with the bat in the contest, posting a career-high four hits and five RBI in the game. He also scored two runs in the game. In the fifth, he opened up a one-run contest with a three-run blast to left, his second of the season, to score Evan Crawford and Rogers. Crawford, Wilson and Cox - the 7-8-9 hitters in the Indiana lineup - went a combined 9-for-14 with nine RBI and five runs scored.
IU got on the board first with an RBI single from Wilson to center that scored Kipp Schutz in the bottom of the second. After PSU scored three in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead on starter Chris McCombs, the Hoosiers scored three in the bottom of the frame to regain a one-run edge. Chris Hervey led off the inning with a strikeout, but reached after the ball went all the way to the backstop on a wild pitch. Josh Phegley followed with a bunt single, and two batters later Rogers walked to load the bases. Schutz then laced a double to left center to score two and tie the game. Two batters later, Wilson delivered his second RBI single of the game to bring home Rogers and give IU a 4-3 edge.
McCombs threw 8 1/3 strong innings but picked up a no-decision. The senior allowed 11 hits and walked just one in the longest outing of his career, needing just 110 pitches to go that far. Only five of the seven runs he allowed were earned. Chris Squires picked up the win by going 2/3 of an inning and allowing just one hit and an unearned run.
In the Hoosiers' first game of the day, Phegley was the star of the show, hitting two homers, a double, a single and a sacrifice fly to lead the Hoosiers to a 14-7 win over Illinois. The sophomore catcher became the first IU player to hit two homers in a game since Joe Kemp against Iowa in 2004. He also became the first Hoosier since Vasili Spanos (vs. Akron, 2003) to drive in six runs in a single contest.
In game one it was the top of the lineup that got the job done, as Means went 1-for-3 and scored three runs and Chris Hervey went 3-for-4 with four runs and two RBI. Hervey is hitting .643 for the tournament with a .737 on-base percentage and eight runs scored. Tyler Tufts was strong on the mound for Indiana, scattering 11 hits and striking out five in a complete-game victory.
The Hoosiers struck quickly in the first against the Illini, as Means was hit by a pitch, Hervey singled and Phegley doubled down the left-field line to make it 1-0. Jerrud Sabourin followed with an RBI groundout to make it 2-0 and Phegley scampered home on a wild pitch to give IU a 3-0 edge. In the third, Phegley hit his first bomb of the game, a solo shot to left center that made it 4-0. After U of I scored one in the top of the fourth, Phegley came to the plate with two down and Means and Hervey aboard and the sophomore crushed a pitch over the wall in left to make it 7-1.
Phegley now has 15 home runs and 79 RBI on the season to go along with his .432 batting average. The sophomore entered the week third in the nation in average at .436. His 15 longballs are tied for the seventh-most in IU history and the are the most since Spanos had 16 in 2002. Phegley is third all-time with his 79 runs driven in this year.
IU added one in the fifth on a solo shot by Crawford, his first of the season, and Phegley brought home Hervey with a sac fly to make it 9-1 in the sixth. Tufts was spectacular on the other side, allowing just one run on five hits and no walks in his first six innings. But the Illini got to him for three in the seventh and three in the eighth to trim the deficit to 9-7. The Hoosier bats were not about to leave the issue in doubt, though, as they batted around and scored five runs on five hits and an error to make it 14-7.
The Hoosiers will play at 3:35 on Saturday at Ray Fisher Stadium against the loser of tonight's Purdue/Michigan contest. Should IU win that game, they would face the winner of that contest. Be sure to check IUHoosiers.com later on Thursday evening for the latest updates. Live audio and GameTracker for the games will be available through IUHoosiers.com.
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