Baseball Sets for AutoZone Classic
March 1, 2007
SETTING THE SCENE
LAST TIME OUT
Tufts went the full nine, throwing 108 pitches for his third career complete game. The sophomore walked one and struck out three in the victory. On the offensive side, Tyler Cox went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and a run scored, while Jon Fixler, Josh Richardson and Josh Phegley each had hits.
That followed losses to Troy and Southern Mississippi at the event, the former coming on a 4-3 loss in the 10th inning.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Hoosiers hold a 2-2 all-time mark against the Tigers, having taken the last two matchups. On Feb. 26, 2005, the Hoosiers edged Memphis 9-8 in 10 innings. Indiana scored three runs in the top of the 10th in that affair, and held off the Tigers for the win.
IU holds a 2-1 mark against Northern Iowa in the series history, including a 3-1 victory over the Panthers in Bradenton last season. Josh Lewis pitched a complete game, striking out seven, as IU strung together three runs off UNI's Jake Hansen.
SCOUTING THE FIELD
Memphis holds a 4-1 record on the season entering this weekend. The Tigers have won four in a row since dropping their season opener. Memphis has scored the winning run in its last at bat in three of its last four games, including a walk-off win against Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Saturday's projected starter, Lance Scoggins, went just 2.1 innings in his only start of the season, walking four, but did not allow a run against Akron.
Northern Iowa is 3-4 entering the weekend after taking two-of-three from Centenary last weekend. The Panthers opened the season with a four-game set against Arkansas-Little Rock, losing three games in that series. UNI scored 26 runs in the series with Centenary, winning a 13-12 contest in the final game. Sunday's expected starter, Guido Fonseca, has a 1-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in 5.2 innings of work this season.
The games will be played in AutoZone Park, the home of the AAA Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League), the minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The park is 319 down the left field line, 360 to left-center, 400 to center, 373 to right-center and 322 down the right field line.
Offensively, Haas went 4-for-8 on the weekend, matching Crawford's three RBIs. Additionally, Haas posted a pair of sacrifice bunts and a sacrifice fly on the weekend. Haas led the team with a .353 average last season, spending most of his time in the leadoff spot.
Perhaps the most impressive attribute about Tufts' start was his ability to induce ground balls from the Georgia Southern bats. Tufts recorded 16 ground-ball outs to just five on fly balls. That helped him get out of trouble in a few innings by allowing his defense to turn two with a runner on.
HE MEANS BUSINESS
The sophomore is also a wide receiver on the Indiana football team. In 2006, he made 20 catches for 263 yards and a touchdown for the Hoosiers. Last season, the two-sport athlete hit .301 with 16 stolen bases for the Hoosier baseball team.
Last season, Fleenor led the Hoosiers with a 2.57 ERA and was a third team All-Big Ten selection. He became the first IU pitcher since 2002 to be honored by the conference in the postseason. His 2.57 ERA was the lowest by a Hoosier starter since Zach Otte in 2002.
SMITH A HOF FINALIST
The former shortstop hit .369 in his IU career, smashing 47 home runs and driving in 185 runs in his four years. In 1992, Smith posted one of the best seasons in NCAA history, hitting .490 with 27 home runs and 95 RBIs to lead the nation in all three categories. He remains the only player in college baseball lore to win the triple crown. Smith earned first team All-America laurels following his 1992 campaign.
INSIDE THE COACHING STAFF
Indiana's pitching saw strong growth throughout the season, as freshman Joe Vicini emerged as the team's go-to closer, posting a 3.93 ERA and tallying three saves. Neal was also a key force in seeing IU's ERA drop by more than six-tenths of a point in the final month of the season.
Bryan Prince is in his first season as an assistant baseball coach at Indiana. Prince, who spent the 2006 season as an assistant with Georgia Tech, will serve as the Hoosiers' hitting coach and work with the team's catchers.
Prince arrived in Bloomington after helping the Yellow Jackets advance to the program's third College World Series last season. Georgia Tech closed out the campaign ranked in the top 10 with a 50-18 overall record while playing in what was widely regarded as the nation's toughest conference - the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Kerry Rogers is in his first year as Indiana baseball's volunteer assistant coach. Rogers will serve as IU's outfield coach and assist with the team's hitters. Rogers brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the Bloomington area and the surrounding communities. He starred at Bloomington South High School before moving on to an injury-shortened pitching career at Vincennes University. After his playing career, Rogers served as the pitching coach at Bloomington South from 1992-93 and helped the Panthers to the 1993 South Central championship.
HOOSIERS NAME 2007 CAPTAINS
"The role of the captain is going to be a very important role for us this year," head coach Tracy Smith said. "Those guys are going to have to step up since we are so young. They need to provide that experience and that leadership and lead by example. I think everyday consistency and work ethic needs to be modeled. The young men that we have here are capable of doing that and need to continue to improve every day as we go on throughout the season. That is going to be a key for us as we approach Big Ten play."
DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS
"From a defensive standpoint, I have always said that teams I'm associated with are going to be built around the mound," Smith said. "Speed certainly plays a part in that."
The second-year head coach will likely have several returning starters in new positions on the diamond. Keith Haas moves from second base to shortstop, Andrew Means will move from right field to center and Jon Fixler moves from catcher to first base.
"Keith is a solid, consistent middle infielder that we know we can count on to perform at shortstop this year after being strong at second base last year," Smith said. "In the outfield, Andrew is a strong defensive outfielder with above-average speed, and we'll look to him to step up as he moves from right field to center in 2007. As for the newcomers, Josh Phegley has an outstanding arm behind the plate and Kipp Schutz is very consistent defensively with an accurate throwing arm in the outfield."
"I think it was important for our program to go out and make a statement," Smith said. "They always say in recruiting that you have to control your state. Josh was important for us, because he was the one that said yes. He got the pipeline started. Once he said yes, the other guys fell in line. The fact that the honor was bestowed upon him, it kind of legitimized the message we were trying to deliver. I think it is an important message, that Indiana has arrived, we are going to keep the good players in the state of Indiana, and Josh is certainly one of those."
Phegley hit .592 with 13 home runs, 16 doubles and 50 RBIs a year ago for Terre Haute North, earning him all-conference and all-state honors. Additionally, the catcher was named the Indiana Defensive Player of the Year.
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