Hoosier Baseball Hosts Musketeers Today

    Go Hoosiers! Eric Arnett is scheduled to start Wednesday's game against Xavier at Sembower Field.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Eric Arnett is scheduled to start Wednesday's game against Xavier at Sembower Field.
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 26, 2008

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    XAVIER (6-11) AT INDIANA (9-7)

    Sembower Field (1,000) • Bloomington, Ind.
    Wednesday, March 26 - 3 p.m. EDT

    IU: RHP Eric Arnett (2-0, 3.97) XU: TBA

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    The Hoosiers will host their first midweek game of the 2008 season when Xavier comes to town on Wednesday for a 3 p.m. contest. The Hoosiers enter the contest with a four-game winning streak after sweeping IPFW over the weekend, 3-2 and 4-2. IU is now 9-7 on the season. The Musketeers enter the contest at 6-11 after opening Atlantic 10 play by taking two of three games at Dayton and falling 5-2 against Kentucky on Tuesday. Xavier is playing its fifth game in five days and is in the midst of an 11-day stretch where it plays nine contests - all on the road.

    Indiana used strong pitching to sweep a two-game set against IPFW over the weekend, as Matt Bashore and Tyler Tufts each had quality starts on the mound. Bashore struck out nine over eight innings in the opener, but collected a no-decision as the Hoosiers rallied from down 2-1 to top the Mastodons 3-2 with a walk-off victory. Tufts allowed five hits over seven innings on Sunday to move to 2-2 on the year. Junior Andrew Means upped his team-long hitting streak to 14 games in the victories.

    Tracy Smith is in his third season as Indiana baseball's head coach. In his three years at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 48-76. In 2007, Smith led one of the youngest teams in the country, with 19 freshmen and six sophomores, to a 19-win season. He has also been instrumental in the development of junior centerfielder Andrew Means, who earned second team All-Big Ten honors for the Hoosiers after hitting .369 with 30 RBIs, 32 runs and 27 stolen bases. In 11 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 365-296-1 (.552).

    Xavier skipper Scott Googins is in his third season at the helm of the Musketeers. He has worked with Smith on staffs at both Miami (2001-04) and at Indiana (1995-96).

    Indiana and Xavier will be meeting for the 18th time in the history of the two programs. The Hoosiers have historically dominated the Musketeers, as IU holds a 16-1 edge in the all-time series. The two teams have met just once in Googins' and Smith's tenures, with the Hoosiers taking a 10-6 win in Cincinnati in 2006. The two squads were scheduled to do battle last year, but rain washed out the contest.

    Indiana has won the last seven meetings with XU dating back to 1989. The two teams have met just two times since 2000, with IU scoring 10 runs in each of the last two contests. The Hoosiers also hold an 8-0 advantage in games against Xavier played in Bloomington, including a 7-0 mark all-time at Sembower Field.

    Xavier will play for the fifth consecutive day on Wednesday, with all five contests on the road. The Musketeers are in the middle of an 11-day stretch in which they play nine games away from Cincinnati. XU brings in a 6-11 record after taking two of three from Dayton last weekend and falling 5-2 against Kentucky yesterday.

    Zach Richard has been far and away the top offensive threat for the Musketeers as he leads the team in average (.362), home runs (4) and RBI (19). As a squad, Xavier is hitting a collective .247 and is putting up an average of just 5.1 runs per game. The pitching staff has an aggregate 6.52 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit .306 on the year.

    Junior centerfielder Andrew Means has posted a hot start to the 2008 season, as he has scored a Big Ten-leading 23 runs in 16 Hoosier games this season. He is six runs ahead of second place - which is shared by teammate Josh Phegley and two others.

    Additionally, Means has put together a 14-game hitting streak and has registered a hit in 15 of IU's 16 games this season. Over the last 14 games, Means is 28-for-68 (.412). He is one game away from matching his career best of 15 games, set last season from April 21-May 12. Those two streaks are the longest by a Hoosier since Jay Brant put together a 20-game streak in 2005.

    His hitting streak appeared in jeopardy in the series opener with IPFW, as he went 0-for-4 in his first four plate appearances and was slated to bat sixth in the bottom of the ninth inning. But fate shined on Means as the Hoosiers tied the score and he came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the final frame. He promptly deposited a 2-0 fastball through the left side that extended his hitting streak and earned the Hoosiers a walk-off victory.

    On the basepaths, Means has been just as important to the Hoosier offense, as he is 9-for-9 in stolen bases this year. He was 27-for-30 in 2007 and 16-for-18 in 2006, giving him a career total of 52-for-57 (91.2 percent).

    The two-sport athlete was also a star on the gridiron in 2007. As a sophomore wide receiver, Means finished second on the team with 559 receiving yards and third among Hoosiers with 48 receptions, helping IU Football to its first bowl appearance in 14 years.

    Indiana entered this year as a statistical non-threat to knock a ball out of the park, as the Hoosiers hit just eight home runs a year ago and returned just three longballs from last season. In fact, the Hoosiers entered the season with just eight collegiate home runs - the three returning from last season plus Michael Earley's five at Cincinnati last year.

    But the Hoosiers warmed up in the California sun, smashing five home runs (all by different players) in the eight games in Fresno. IU got hotter as the trip wore on as well, hitting a pair of home runs in each of the final two games at the PJQ Classic - each one the first career longball for the player.

    It marked the first back-to-back multi-homer games for the Hoosiers since April 25 and April 30, 2004, against Illinois and Ohio State, respectively. That year, the Hoosiers posted 57 homers on the season.

    With Kipp Schutz' two-run homer against IPFW, Indiana has already equaled last season's total as it has launched eight balls out of the ballpark through 16 games, led by Schutz' two. Additionally, the Hoosiers have one each of the bats of Ethan Wilson, Josh Phegley, Earley, Tyler Rogers, Jerrud Sabourin and Tyler Cox. The Hoosiers have an aggregate .444 slugging percentage on the season, up over 100 points from last year's .335. Through just 14 games, Indiana is nearly halfway (110) to last year's total of 244 runs as well.

    Indiana has had the same top four hitters in 15 of 16 games this season, and those top four hitters have been vital to Indiana's success. Andrew Means, Evan Crawford, Josh Phegley and Kipp Schutz have been among IU's top four hitters this year, but their performance has been at its apex in Indiana's victories.

    In IU's seven wins, the foursome has gone a collective 70-for-155 (.452 average) with 50 runs scored, 51 RBI, and a .626 slugging percentage. Conversely, in losses, the top four hitters have gone 32-for-110 (.291 average) and have scored just 11 runs.

    Crawford has been the extreme example, as his .526 average in Hoosier victories is best on the team, but he is just 4-for-26 (.154) in losses this year.

    In the Hoosiers' first seven victories of 2008, the IU bats carried the team to wins, but this weekend against IPFW it was the pitching that earned the Hoosiers a pair of victories. Matt Bashore set the tone by striking out nine in eight innings of work on Saturday, and Tyler Tufts had a strong start on Sunday, allowing just five hits in seven innings of work. Additionally, Eric Arnett, Chris McCombs and Chris Squires had strong outings from the bullpen in the series, with Arnett collecting a victory in the first game and Squires picking up his second save of the year in IU's finale win. The two victories represented the team's first two wins this season when registering fewer than 10 hits or fewer than seven runs.

    Indiana individuals don't have to look hard to find their names on the Big Ten's individual leaderboard in terms of statistics. The Hoosiers have a player in the top 10 of nearly every statistical category on the offensive side, while Matt Bashore and Kyle Leiendecker lead the conference in four of the top categories.

    Bashore has been arguably the top pitcher in the conference so far, as he leads the Big Ten in ERA (1.62), innings (33.1) and strikeouts (41) and is fourth in batting average against (.190). He is dominating the conference in Ks as he is now 15 ahead of second place. Leiendecker has three wins on the year, tied for tops in the league.

    On the offensive side, Josh Phegley is among the leaders in average (sixth, .435), slugging (fourth, .597), on-base percentage (fifth, .507) and runs (second, 17). Additionally, Andrew Means leads the league in runs (23), hits (30) and triples (4) and is second with his nine stolen bases. Means' .390 average is also 10th in the league, while Evan Crawford is among the leaders in steals (fourth, 7) and triples (third, 2). Crawford is also second in assists (47).




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