Baseball To Battle Chicago State, UC

    Go Hoosiers! Drew Leininger is the expected starter when Indiana travels to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Drew Leininger is the expected starter when Indiana travels to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 31, 2009

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    Chicago State at Indiana
    Sembower Field • Bloomington, Ind.
    March 31 • 3 p.m.

    CSU - RHP James Tucker (1-6, 10.67) | IU - LHP Matt Bashore (0-3, 7.24)
    GameTracker | Live audio

    Indiana at Cincinnati
    Marge Schott Stadium • Cincinnati, Ohio
    April 1 • 6:30 p.m.

    UC - LHP Kevin Johnson (2-0, 6.39) | IU - LHP Drew Leininger (0-1, 7.50)
    GameTracker | Live audio

    After splitting its first two conference contests and seeing Sunday's game with Minnesota washed out, Indiana faces a pair of non-conference opponents this week. IU plays host to Chicago State on Tuesday and then makes its second trip to the Queen City in a week to take on Cincinnati on Wednesday. The Hoosiers trekked to Cincy last Wednesday in falling 7-6 in 11 innings at Xavier.

    The Cougars, a Division I Independent, come into Tuesday's contest with a 2-22 record and have not played in a week. However, despite the lopsided record, CSU's two wins have been quality opponents, as they knocked off No. 19 Pepperdine a week ago and earlier this season bested Ball State. Cincinnati comes into this week with a 13-10 mark after losing two of three at Rutgers. UC lost all three games at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, falling in one-run contests to Purdue and Ohio State and falling 6-1 to Michigan. The Bearcats play host to Wright State on Tuesday prior to facing Indiana.

    Indiana is 5-1 all-time against Chicago State. The Hoosiers have not faced CSU since a 29-5 victory at Sembower Field on March 24, 2004. The Hoosiers hit six home runs in that game, including two by David Hughes, as IU banged out 24 hits. Indiana is 14-7 against UC in school history, but has not faced the Bearcats since taking two of three from Cincinnati in a three-game series in 1998. IU has won three straight road contests against UC. The two teams were scheduled to play in Bloomington a year ago but the game was cancelled.

    Indiana is in its fourth year under the direction of Tracy Smith. In his time at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 80-116. In 11 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 397-334-1 (.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.

    Chicago State is under the direction of acting head coach Mike Caston. Cincinnati is led by Brian Cleary, who is in year number 13 at UC. Cleary entered the 2009 season with 306 wins in his Bearcat career. He led the team to 39 wins a season ago.

    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.

    His Big Ten opener was just as impressive on Saturday. Facing the 25th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers and with the Hoosiers in a four-game losing streak, Arnett pitched arguably the best game of his career. He went the full nine, striking out 10, and allowed just six hits and two walks. Over his final six innings of work, he gave up just two hits, and saved his best for the ninth, as he struck out Justin Gominsky to end the game on a 94-mph heater up in the zone.

    Arnett did not have a typical offseason, as he tried out for 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.

    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 week fourth in the conference in batting average (.407), first in slugging (.709) and second in on-base percentage (.505). His 28 RBI are just three off the conference lead and with six longballs, he is tied for third in the Big Ten. The junior has not seen very many pitches to hit, as he is tied for third in the league with 18 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.

    Matt Bashore and Eric Arnett came into the preseason as IU's top two starters, but with the emergence of Friday starter Blake Monar, those two have been dropped down in the rotation.

    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.

    During the spring trip in Florida, 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. Monar struggled in his conference debut, as his curveball was off and he picked up the loss in six innings of work.

    The freshman is currently sixth in the Big Ten with his .220 batting average against. Perhaps the most remarkable stat, though, is his performance with two out, which currently has opponents hitting at a 4-for-31 clip.

    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 second in the Big Ten with seven home runs and leads the conference with 67 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 fourth in the league with a .677 slugging percentage and is sixth in the Big Ten with his 27 RBI.

    Making his conference debut over the weekend, Dickerson raised his game, lifting IU to a 3-2 win in the Saturday contest against Minnesota. With the Hoosiers trailing 2-1 in the sixth and Josh Phegley on first, Dickerson blasted a 1-1 pitch out of the park to left to give IU a lead it would not relinquish. He finished the game 2-for-3 with a double as well.

    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.




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