Baseball

    Hoosiers Set to Host Golden Gophers in Conference Opener

    Go Hoosiers! Alex Dickerson and the Hoosiers play host to Minnesota this weekend in the conference opener for both teams.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Alex Dickerson and the Hoosiers play host to Minnesota this weekend in the conference opener for both teams.
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 26, 2009

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    Minnesota at Indiana
    Sembower Field • Bloomington, Ind.

    Friday, March 27 • 3 p.m.
    UM - RHP Chauncy Handran (3-1, 3.00) | IU - LHP Blake Monar (2-1, 3.55)
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    Saturday, March 28 • 1 p.m.
    UM - RHP Tom Buske (4-0, 2.10) | IU - RHP Eric Arnett (4-1, 2.57)
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    Sunday, March 29 • 1 p.m.
    UM - RHP Seth Rosin (1-1, 4.78) | IU - LHP Matt Bashore (0-3, 7.24)
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    FIRST PITCH
    Indiana opens Big Ten play this weekend as it plays host to the 25th-ranked Golden Gophers of Minnesota. IU has lost seven of its last eight, including three in a row, with all three losses turning in the seventh inning or later. At Xavier on Wednesday, the Hoosiers held a 6-3 lead in the ninth only to see Ben Thomas hit a three-run tying homer in the bottom of the frame and add an 11th-inning walk-off. Indiana is now 7-14 on the season. Minnesota enters the weekend at 13-6 and has not played since a three-game set at Dallas Baptist over the weekend. The Gophers swept DBU and went 5-3 on their spring trip to Texas, which included a pair of wins against then-No. 17 TCU the opening weekend. The Gophers have not played an outdoor contest north of Florida yet, as their only contests in the northern part of the country have been played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome

    THE LAST TIME...
    Indiana traveled to Minneapolis to take on the Gophers to open the 2008 conference schedule and earned a four-game series split with the Gophers. Minnesota won the opening two games of the series before IU took the second game of Saturday's doubleheader and won the series finale on Sunday. Kipp Schutz and Andrew Means had three hits each in the Sunday win and Josh Phegley hit a monster home run at the Metrodome in the Saturday victory. In Minnesota's last trip to Sembower Field, the last-place Hoosiers took a series split with the NCAA-bound Gophers, with Phegley tallying a bases-loaded, walk-off single in the final game of the 2007 season. Minnesota is 93-35 all time against IU.

    THE COACHES
    Indiana is in its fourth year under the direction of Tracy Smith. In his time at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 79-115. In 11 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 396-333-1 (.543). The 2008 season was a significant upward turn for the Hoosiers, as Indiana made its first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2004 by rallying for a sixth-place finish in the regular season. IU then eliminated Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State at the conference tournament before falling in the semifinals to Purdue. With a 31-30 record on the season, IU had its finest season in Smith's tenure.

    Minnesota is in its 28th year under the leadership of head coach John Anderson. In just under three decades with the Golden Gophers, Anderson has compiled the most wins in Big Ten history with 437 conference victories. Anderson, an American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, has led Minnesota to a Big Ten record 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including seven in the last 10 years.

    EA IS IN THE GAME
    Junior Eric Arnett has always possessed the potential to be one of the top arms in the conference and the nation, but his first two years produced somewhat disappointing results on the mound. The Pataskala, Ohio, native has come through to post some of the top numbers in the Big Ten so far in 2009.

    In his season debut against Georgetown, Arnett allowed just four hits and two walks, striking out a career-high eight in a 12-4 victory. He followed that by one-upping himself in a start against Cleveland State. In his seven innings of work, he again topped his career high with nine Ks. Against ECU, he pitched a complete game to up his career-high strikeout total for the third time in a row, striking out 10.

    Over the spring trip, his numbers weren't quite as gaudy, but he was the winning pitcher in both of IU's victories. Against Bowling Green, Arnett went six innings, allowing nine hits but holding the Falcons without a walk and keeping his pitch count to 85 pitches in a lopsided win. Then against Hartford, "Big E" surrendered just four hits and two walks, striking out six in seven innings. He enters this weekend ninth in the conference in ERA (2.57) and third in the Big Ten in strikeouts (35).

    Arnett did not have a typical offseason, as he tried out for and made the basketball team, and impressed Tom Crean instantly to earn a roster spot. He served as a key post player during practice for the first 2 1/2 months of the season. Due to scholarship limitations, he could not play in a game per NCAA rules, but practiced with the team until early January.

    RIGHT WHERE HE LEFT OFF
    After a stellar 2008 season, Josh Phegley entered 2009 with high expectations. Though he went through a brief slump at the start of the season, he has surged to put up numbers that are similarly gaudy to last season's.

    Phegley enters the weekend fourth in the conference in batting average (.430), first in slugging (.759) and second in on-base percentage (.524). His 28 RBI are just two off the conference lead and with six longballs, he is tied for second in the Big Ten. The junior has not seen very many pitches to hit, as he is third in the league with 17 walks.

    Phegley posted his fourth career five-hit game against Morehead State, hitting three home runs and adding a double and single for six RBI. The huge game vaulted Phegley to his second career Big Ten Player of the Week mention and he was named to the College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup for Week Four.

    Phegley became the fourth player in school history to slug three home runs in a game when he did so against Morehead. For the week, Phegley led all Hoosiers with 11 RBI and slugged 1.467 with a .714 on-base percentage (2.181 OPS). The Terre Haute native hit .667 (10-for-15) with four home runs in the Hoosiers' four games. The preseason All-American also had a three-hit game at No. 29 Kentucky and drove in three against Jacksonville State. He led Indiana with eight runs on the week.

    THIRD ACE
    Matt Bashore and Eric Arnett came into the preseason as IU's top two starters, but neither is projected to start the Big Ten opener against Minnesota. That honor is projected to go to freshman phenom Blake Monar, who has lit it up in his last few games.

    Monar, a High School All-American and a 26th-round selection of the New York Yankees, has been incredibly strong. His first start was a solid debut against USF in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, and his second - against Le Moyne - was even more impressive, Monar scattered four hits, striking out six, in seven innings against the Dolphins.

    Last week, though, Monar raised the bar. The Rockport, Ind., native no-hit Jacksonville State for the first five innings before running into trouble in a no-decision. Then on Friday, Monar dueled with Alex Wimmers of Ohio State for a brilliant pitching duel. Monar retired 15 Buckeyes in a row at one point and finished with four hits and two walks in seven innings.

    The freshman is currently second in the Big Ten with his .176 batting average against. Perhaps the most remarkable stat, though, is his performance with two out, which currently has opponents hitting at an 0-for-22 clip.

    ALEX THE GREAT
    While Josh Phegley is the most feared hitter in the Indiana lineup, opposing teams are starting to see the potential possessed by the man behind him, Alex Dickerson. The freshman is currently tied with Phegley for second in the Big Ten with six home runs and leads the conference with 61 total bases.

    After struggling in the season opener (0-for-5 with three Ks), Dickerson has rallied to raise his average to .372 on the year. The Poway, Calif., native is currently 10th in the league with a .637 slugging percentage and is tied for sixth in the Big Ten with his 25 RBI.

    In the weekend finale of the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, the burly lefthander busted out with three hits, including his first career home run, and four RBI to lead IU to a 9-7 win. With the Hoosiers up 3-0 in the fifth and Phegley on second, Dickerson crushed a 2-0 offering the other way, sending it over the wall in left center to push Indiana's lead to five runs.

    In the first three games in Florida, Dickerson was outstanding, clubbing three hits in each game and driving in eight runs. He hit his fifth and sixth longballs against Bowling Green and Jacksonville State, respectively, and scored a run in each of the three contests. Last Wednesday at Stetson, though, he was held hitless for the first time since the season opener, snapping his hitting streak at 15 games.

    QUIETLY EXCELLENT
    Jerrud Sabourin had a stellar freshman year, picking up Freshman All-America honors from several publications after hitting .383 and leading all conference frosh with 53 RBI. The first baseman has followed up on that by showing strong in 2009, as he is currently 10th in the conference with a .386 average and is tied for fourth with 34 hits.

    Sabourin saw his hitting streak snapped at 14 games against Jacksonville State last week, which sent him into a brief slump that has dropped his average from a season high of .538. Still, he has recorded 11 multi-hit games so far this season, and he matched his career high when he delivered a four-hit game against Le Moyne on March 8.

    Sabourin hit his second homer of the season against BGSU, pulling a ball out to right at Chain O' Lakes Stadium. He also had two sac flies in that game, and currently leads the conference with his five sacrifices.

    A NO-K STREAK
    Sophomore outfielder T.C. Knipp has played in 14 of Indiana's 21 games, but he has made the most of his opportunities. The walk-on from Carmel, Ind., has recorded nine starts and has posted a .325 average and a .413 on-base percentage thanks to four walks and two times being hit by a pitch.

    But the most amazing statistic about Knipp's season is his ability to make contact. Since being caught looking in his first at-bat of the season, Knipp has now gone 43 straight plate appearances without being punched out. Knipp's streak is more than twice as long as the second-longest string by a Hoosier this season.

    The sophomore was the only IU player that was not struck out by Ohio State ace Alex Wimmers, and he was also the only Hoosier who had more than one hit off Wimmers, knocking a pair of singles. Over the spring trip to Florida, Knipp hit an even .400 for the Hoosiers.

     

     

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