Hoosiers Set to Host Mastodons for Weekend Series

    Go Hoosiers! Reid Briglia and the Hoosiers will host IPFW for a three-game set this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Reid Briglia and the Hoosiers will host IPFW for a three-game set this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 22, 2007

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    The Indiana baseball team will host its first weekend series of 2007 as Mid-Continental Conference opponent IPFW comes to town for a three-game set beginning on Friday, March 23, at 3 p.m. After playing 15 of its first 16 games on the road, IU will play at Sembower Field for 12 of the next 14 games, including each of the next three weekends. The Hoosiers are 8-8 on the season while IPFW is 4-16 heading into this weekend.

    Jon Fixler and Andrew Means combined for nine hits and nine RBIs as the Indiana baseball team moved to .500 with a doubleheader sweep of Florida A&M on Saturday. Freshmen Matt Bashore and Eric Arnett each picked up a victory for Indiana.

    In the opening game of the doubleheader, Fixler went 2-for-5 with 5 RBIs, including a go-ahead, bases-clearing double in the top of the ninth that gave IU a 5-3 lead. Bashore pitched 8 1/3 innings, allowing just four hits and two walks and striking out a career-high nine to improve to 2-1.

    In the second game, the Hoosiers posted a seven-run fourth on six hits and a pair of Rattler errors. Seven different Hoosiers each had an RBI in the frame, with Ben Greenspan getting two hits in the inning. Reid Briglia added his first career triple in the frame. Evan Crawford and Fixler each had RBI singles in the fourth.

    In the series' opening game on Friday, March 16, David Trager tied a school record with five hits and Chris Hervey added four in a 10-2 victory on Friday. Tyler Tufts pitched eight innings to garner his second win of the season as the Hoosiers improved to 6-8 on the season.

    The three-game sweep wrapped up a 4-4 spring break swing through Florida with the Hoosiers winning the final four games of the 10-day trip. Indiana opened the eight-game affair with a sweep at the hands of top-ranked Florida State and followed by splitting a pair of 10-9 games against North Florida in Jacksonville.

    The Hoosiers and Mastodons have done battle three times before, with the Hoosiers winning the matchup between state schools all three times. Indiana swept a doubleheader at home in 1980, and also took a 7-6 contest on Feb. 15, 2000. In that contest, Eric Blakeley scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for the home squad.

    IPFW enters this weekend with a 4-16 record, but has won its last two contests. The Mastodons played in Bradenton, Fla., for 10 games in eight days, going 2-8 on the trip with victories over Northeastern and Valparaiso. The Mastodons started the season 0-7 and have lost six of their last eight games.

    Offensively, IPFW is led by Jared Davis, who has a .351 average, one home run, and a team-leading eight doubles on the season. Davis has slugged .494 on the season and leads the squad with 20 RBIs. As a team, IPFW is hitting .289 with four longballs. Quentin Brown swiped three bases on Tuesday against Goshen College.

    Pitching has been a struggle for the Mastodons, who have allowed more than 10 runs seven times this season and have an aggregate 8.94 ERA. Opponents are batting .355 against the Mastodons on the season. Donnie Sixt leads the starters with a 6.00 ERA and 28 Ks in 27 innings, while Carden has worked out of the bullpen to earn the team's only save this season.

    In Indiana's 10-9 victory over North Florida on Wednesday, March 14, the Hoosiers swiped a season-high nine bases, the most since IU stole 12 bases against Indiana State on April 18, 2006. Against UNF, Andrew Means and Evan Crawford each stole three bags to lead the visitors.

    In his two years with the Hoosiers, head coach Tracy Smith has shown an affinity to be aggressive on the basepaths, and the 2007 Hoosiers have followed suit. IU has attempted 45 steals on the year to its opponents' 22. Indiana has been successful on 37 of its attempts this year.

    Means and Crawford sit 1-2 on the team in steals with 11 and eight, respectively, while Keith Haas is 5-for-5 on the season and Tyler Cox is 3-for-4. Four other Hoosiers have swiped two bases, while two have stolen one this season. Reid Briglia and Jon Fixler are the only players who have started more than three games that have not stolen a base.

    Sophomore Andrew Means was named the Big Ten Player of the Week, the conference office announced on Tuesday, March 20. Last week, Means hit at a torrid pace, hitting .500 with seven RBIs, eight runs, two doubles and eight steals in five games. It is his first weekly honor from the conference and the first honor for a Hoosier since Reggie Watson was named Player of the Week on May 16, 2006. Means was also named to the College Baseball Foundation's National Honor Roll for his performance.

    Means, who has also been impressive defensively in his transition from right to center field, began his week with a career-high four hits in seven at-bats in a 16-inning affair against North Florida on Wednesday, March 15. In that contest he drove in a pair of runs, scored one and stole a base. He followed that up with a career-best three steals the next night against the Ospreys, going 2-for-5 at the plate. With the score tied 9-9 in the eighth and Josh Phegley on second with two outs, Means ripped a game-winning RBI single to left center to ice the victory.

    In IU's three-game series against Florida A&M, the Avon Lake, Ohio, native opened the set with a 2-for-4 outing, swiping two bags and scoring two runs. In the final game of the series, the sophomore went 3-for-6, scoring three runs and driving in three to go along with his third game of the week with multiple steals, notching his 10th and 11th steals of the season. On the year, Means is hitting .349 with a team-leading 11 steals and 14 runs.

    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 squad.

    Junior walk-on Reid Briglia used the fair weather in Florida to heat up his bat. In the eight games in the Sunshine State, Briglia hit a team-leading .433 and tied for the team lead with six runs scored. Briglia slugged a whopping .633 on the trip with four doubles and one triple for a team-leading 19 total bases on the 10-day affair.

    Briglia is in his first season on the field with the Hoosiers. He redshirted while at IU in 2004 before transferring to Rollins College for a year, playing fall ball for Rollins. He then returned to Indiana and redshirted as a transfer in 2006 before joining the Hoosiers this season.

    When junior David Trager entered the Friday, March 16, game against Florida A&M in the bottom of the first inning, he was the last person expecting to make history. But Trager did just that, entering the game to replace Evan Crawford at second, then posting hits in each of his five at-bats to become the eighth player in school history to record five hits in a single game. Trager, who entered the contest 0-for-4 on the season in limited action, hit doubles in the third and fourth and singles in the sixth, seventh and ninth to match the school record. On the same note, outfielder Chris Hervey broke out of his early-season swoon in the game, going 4-for-4 at the plate with a ninth-inning walk.

    Junior Jon Fixler had a slow start at the dish to begin the season, but after head coach Tracy Smith put Fixler in the third slot in the lineup, Fixler blossomed to go 5-for-13 hitting there for all three games against Florida A&M. Fixler had a 2-for-5 performance in the first half of Saturday's doubleheader, driving in all five Hoosier runs in a 5-3 victory.

    Fixler has a .375 average this season while hitting third as compared to a .200 average when hitting sixth. Keith Haas has hit .325 in the three slot, while he is hitting .370 as a leadoff hitter. All other hitters batting third have gone a combined 0-for-10.

    Sophomore Tyler Tufts and freshmen Matt Bashore and Jason Ferrell have provided impressive numbers so far this season, going a combined 6-4 with an aggregate 2.83 ERA and a .228 batting average against. The three also have 37 strikeouts to 23 walks on the year in 66 2/3 innings.

    Bashore has gone 2-1 in his three starts and is leading the squad with 20 strikeouts and a 1.99 ERA in his 22 2/3 innings of work. Tufts has posted a sparkling 3.10 ERA in his 29 innings, and has been a groundball specialist, retiring 49 of the 116 batters he has faced on grounders. Ferrell has allowed opponents just a .218 average.

    Several Hoosiers have found their way onto the Big Ten leaderboard this season. Andrew Means entered the week one behind Illinois' Shawn Roof (12) for the league lead in steals, while Evan Crawford sits in third with eight swipes. As a team, Indiana's 37 steals are most in the league. Additionally, freshman Josh Phegley is tied for third in the conference with his six doubles on the season.

    As a team, the Hoosiers sit in third place in the conference with their 4.22 ERA on the season. Ohio State is over a run and a half better than second-place Minnesota with their 2.60 ERA. Matt Bashore's 1.99 ERA is currently sixth in the conference, while his .205 batting average against is third. Bashore is tied for sixth with his 20 strikeouts. He trails only Purdue's Tony Sedlmeyer among conference freshmen in ERA and leads conference rookies in batting average against.

    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.

    When the Hoosiers exploded for 16 runs and 20 hits against Eastern Illinois on March 2, each marked the highest total in the Tracy Smith era for the Hoosiers. Indiana posted two innings - the third and the ninth - of six runs or more and batted around in each inning.

    Indiana's 16-inning game against North Florida was the longest in the Tracy Smith era for the Hoosiers. Last season, IU lost a 14-inning game to Charlotte on Feb. 26 in the team's third game. The Hoosiers are 0-2 in extra-inning contests and are 2-5 in Smith's career when games go to extras. The game lasted 4:40, the longest contest since a 17-7 loss to Michigan State on March 31 of last year.

    Senior Keith Haas is at a new position - shortstop - but his performance over the first 16 games have been reminiscent of the 2006 all-region selection's previous campaign. So far this season, Haas has hit .358 and has Indiana's only home run. His 13 RBIs also are tops on the team.

    In his eight games in Florida, Haas put together a .387 average with 10 singles and two doubles on the trip. After a brief stint hitting third, Haas has returned to the leadoff slot. When leading off an inning, he has reached base 11 times in 18 opportunities, a remarkable 61.1 percent of the time, and is hitting .529 when leading off an inning to lead the team.

    Haas led the team with a .353 average last season, spending most of his time in the leadoff spot. His 62 assists are tops on the team and he has helped the IU defense turn 18 groundball double plays already this season.

    Freshman Evan Crawford continues to impress in his brief time as a Hoosier. Crawford is hitting .371 with hits in 12 of his 16 career games. In addition, Crawford is tied for the team lead with 14 runs and is second on the squad with eight steals on the year. He and Josh Phegley are the only two Hoosier freshmen to have started every game this year.

    Crawford, a native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, finished his senior year with a .462 average and 21 steals in 22 attempts. He has also been a stalwart defensively this year, helping IU turn 18 groundball double plays in 16 games. His 45 assists are second on the team behind Keith Haas.

    Senior Josh Richardson has found himself in a new spot on the field for the third time this season. After starting 32 of his 37 games at shortstop a season ago, Richardson has played at third base and second base and has started in both left field and at designated hitter. Richardson has helped to fill in the hole left by the loss of freshman Kipp Schutz, who will likely miss the remainder of the season with a collarbone injury.

    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 are new to the program. Eighteen of the 19 players are freshmen for IU. So far, freshmen Evan Crawford and Josh Phegley have started all 16 games for IU, while three other freshmen have started at least five games this year. Junior Reid Briglia, the only upperclassman newcomer, is hitting .341 and has 10 starts in 11 games. On the Hoosier staff, eight of 12 players who have pitched this season are freshmen, and freshmen have started eight of Indiana's 16 games this year.




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