Baseball Sets for AutoZone Classic

    Go Hoosiers! Josh Richardson and the Hoosiers head to Memphis, Tenn., for the AutoZone Classic this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Josh Richardson and the Hoosiers head to Memphis, Tenn., for the AutoZone Classic this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 1, 2007

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    The Indiana baseball team embarks on its second road trip of the season when it heads to Memphis, Tenn., for the AutoZone Classic, hosted by the University of Memphis. Indiana is 1-2 on the season after opening the year at the Wiregrass Baseball Classic, defeating Georgia Southern, but falling to host Troy and Southern Mississippi.

    Tyler Tufts pitched a complete game six-hitter as the Indiana baseball team (1-2) got its first win of 2007 with a 5-1 victory over Georgia Southern (8-6) on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Wiregrass Baseball Classic. Evan Crawford had his second multihit game of his career, going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs and a run in the victory.

    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.

    Indiana is 3-4 all time against Eastern Illinois, including a 12-11 loss to the Panthers last season in Bradenton, Fla. In the wild contest, Keith Haas and Reggie Watson hit home runs as the two teams wound up tied at 10 through just three innings of play. Joe Vicini pitched five innings of relief in the game for IU, allowing just one run on three hits.

    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.

    Indiana Athletic Media Relations Staff Assistant Matt Brady is the primary media relations contact for the Indiana baseball team. He can be reached at his office (812-856-0215), via cell phone (413-222-2788) or email (

    Eastern Illinois started its season at the Dunn Hospitality Classic in Evansville, Ind., last weekend. The Panthers went 2-1 at the event, falling to Toledo in their season opener, but posting victories over Chicago State and No. 25 Evansville in their final two games. Against the Purple Aces, EIU jumped out to a 7-0 lead after three innings, then held on for the two-run victory. Friday's expected starter, Brandon Murphy, pitched six innings against Toledo, allowing two runs on five hits.

    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.

    Freshman Evan Crawford turned more than a few heads at the Wiregrass Baseball Classic, as he led the Hoosiers in batting average (.500, 5-for-10), runs (three) and RBIs (three). Crawford knocked in a pair of runs on a two-run single against Georgia Southern. He is the only Hoosier to have a hit in every game this year. Defensively, Crawford rebounded from a shaky beginning to lead Indiana with 15 assists on the weekend. He also was a part of four of Indiana's five double plays on the weekend.

    Senior Keith Haas is at a new position - shortstop - but his returns in the first weekend of the season were reminiscent of the 2006 all-region selection's previous campaign. Haas finished just behind Crawford with 11 assists on the weekend and started a pair of double plays in IU's victory over Georgia Southern.

    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.

    Sophomore Tyler Tufts had a sparkling 2007 debut, pitching a complete-game six-hitter for the Hoosiers. Tufts allowed just one walk in the contest and struck out two for his third career complete game. He is expected to start on Saturday against Memphis.

    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.

    Sophomore Andrew Means was a rock for the Hoosiers on the weekend, both at the plate and in centerfield. Means hit .364 on the weekend, posting two hits in each of his first two games and posting Indiana's only extra-base hit of the weekend with a double against Troy. He also was a standout in center, tracking down a pair of balls that seemed destined for extra bases.

    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.

    Junior Doug Fleenor kicked off the 2007 season as the Hoosiers' opening-day starting pitcher. Fleenor pitched six solid innings against Troy, allowing eight hits and three runs, with just one of the three being earned. Fleenor is slated to pitch this weekend's opener, against Eastern Illinois at noon CST on Friday.

    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.

    Former Hoosier Mike Smith has been named to the official ballot for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. More than 300 candidates were originally nominated to be on the ballot, and Smith is one of just 26 players to make the cut on the final ballot.

    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.

    Along with head coach Tracy Smith, Ty Neal is in his second season as the team's pitching coach. Neal's impact on the Hoosier pitching staff was immediate in 2006, as he helped All-Big Ten selection Doug Fleenor post the lowest ERA by a Hoosier reliever in 10 years.

    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.

    Senior Ben Greenspan, juniors Doug Fleenor and Jon Fixler and sophomore Joe Vicini have been named captains for the 2007 season. Fleenor and Vicini were Indiana's two most reliable pitchers in the 2006 season, while Greenspan and Fixler each hit better than .300 a year ago. Fleenor is one of two returning All-Big Ten selections for the Hoosiers this season.

    "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."

    Smith's teams have been known for their defense, and his first recruiting class reflects that. In addition to the Indiana Defensive Player of the Year in Terre Haute's Josh Phegley, the Hoosier skipper has added a number of players who can flash the leather and cover significant ground in the field with their speed.

    "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."

    Tracy Smith's first recruiting class of 19 features six players from the Hoosier state, including Indiana's Mr. Baseball, Terre Haute's Josh Phegley.

    "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.

    The 2007 Hoosiers will look quite different from their 2006 counterparts, largely due to the fact that 19 of the 34 players on the roster were not playing for IU the year before. Eighteen of the 19 players are freshmen for IU. So far, freshmen Evan Crawford, Kipp Schutz and Josh Phegley have started all three games for IU, while four of the eight players who have pitched this season are freshmen.




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