Hoosiers and RedHawks Set for Wednesday Clash

    Go Hoosiers! Doug Fleenor will start on the hill for the Hoosiers today against Miami.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Doug Fleenor will start on the hill for the Hoosiers today against Miami.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 2, 2008

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    MIAMI (6-12) AT INDIANA (12-9)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Sembower Field (1,500) • Bloomington, Ind.
    Wednesday, April 2 - 3 p.m. EDT

    IU: RHP Doug Fleenor (0-1, 6.28)
    MU: RHP Nick Kurash (0-1, 7.24)

    The Hoosiers return to Bloomington for a mid-week game against Miami University on Wednesday. Indiana skipper Tracy Smith will be squaring off against his alma mater and former team in the game. IU comes in having won back-to-back contests to finish off a series split against Minnesota in the opening weekend of Big Ten play. The Hoosiers have won seven of the last nine games and have taken five straight non-conference contests as well. IU is undefeated at Sembower Field this season. Miami has lost six of its last seven and brings a 6-17 overall record into the game.

    The Hoosiers took games three and four from Minnesota in the Metrodome last weekend after the Gophers took the opening two contests. It marks the second year in a row that IU has rallied for a split with Minnesota after the Gophers took the opening two games. Andrew Means went 9-for-17 in the series, scoring six runs and stealing four bases. Kipp Schutz had three doubles and four RBI in the four-game set, while Josh Phegley had a monster home run and drove in four runs for the Hoosiers.

    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 51-78. 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 368-298-1 (.552). He is 1-1 against his alma mater, where he coached for nine seasons.

    Dan Simonds is in his third year at the helm of the RedHawks, where he served as Smith's assistant from 2000-04. He entered this season with a career mark of 84-83.

    Indiana and Miami have squared off 65 times in the history of the two programs, with the Hoosiers leading the all-time series 36-29. The two squads have gone back and forth over the last 10 contests with each taking five victories. Last year the Hoosiers fell 10-1 to MU in Oxford, while IU took the last meeting at Sembower Field, 5-0 in 2006. In that game, Doug Fleenor came up just shy of a no-hitter, allowing just a sixth-inning single in a complete-game shutout.

    Head Coach Tracy Smith has been on both sides of the rivalry, and holds a 6-4 record combined as a head coach. As an assistant coach, he went 1-1, winning the 1996 matchup as an IU assistant but dropping a 5-2 contest in 1993 while at Miami. He has a 2-1 record as a head coach against the RedHawks.

    Miami has struggled this season and finished last weekend with a pair of heartbreaking losses to finish off a series sweep at the hands of Eastern Michigan. The Eagles took game one by a score of 8-6 before winning consecutive 11-inning games 2-1 and 3-2. Yesterday against Cincinnati, though, the RedHawks rebounded with an 11-8 win over the Bearcats, as a seven-run eighth broke open a 3-2 game.

    The RedHawks are led offensively by Chris Nadeau and J.D. Mynhier, while the bulk of the power has been supplied by Jordan Petraitis. Nadeau is hitting .366, Mynhier .341, while Petraitis leads the squad with three triples, three homers and 17 RBI. Today's starter, Nick Kurash, has allowed 18 hits and 11 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings.

    For those who follow Indiana baseball, the matchup of Doug Fleenor vs. Nick Kurash likely sounds familiar. That's because the two pitchers matched up last season when the teams did battle in Oxford, Ohio, in a game that the Hoosiers would like to forget - a 10-1 victory by MU.

    But Fleenor's familiarity with the RedHawks goes well beyond that game, as his performance against the RedHawks the last time he faced them at Sembower Field was not one to forget.

    Fleenor started off by retiring the first nine MU batsmen in order before walking the leadoff man in the fourth. He got a pair of flyouts and a caught stealing to get out of that, then retired the side in order in both the fifth and the sixth innings. In the seventh, he got the first two men, but Jon Franzese put the lid on Fleenor's no-hit bid with a single to left. Altogether, Fleenor faced three batters over the minimum in a one-hit, one-walk shutout of the RedHawks that lasted just over two hours.

    Indiana has had the same top four hitters in all but one game 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 IU's top four hitters this year, and so far they have been the best top four in the conference.

    All four are hitting at .386 or higher this season and have a combined average of .402 on their 137 hits in 341 at-bats. No other Big Ten squad has more than two starters swinging the bats at better than a .375 clip. Currently, just seven hitters in the entire conference are hitting at .400 or better. All four are currently in the top 13 in the league in batting average.

    The foursome has been even more impressive in Hoosier victories this season. All four are hitting over .400 in games that IU has won, and the quartet has gone a collective 92-for-202 (.455 average) with 86 runs scored, 56 RBI and a .634 slugging percentage. Conversely, in losses, the top four hitters have gone 45-for-139 and have scored just 15 runs.

    Crawford has been the extreme example, as his .510 average in Hoosier victories is best on the team, but he is just 7-for-34 (.206) in losses this year.

    Redshirt freshman Kipp Schutz, back after taking a medical redshirt last season, has barely missed a step since returning to the field. The Evansville, Ind., native, who has started every game as the right fielder and cleanup hitter for the Hoosiers, is second on the team behind Josh Phegley in RBI (20), slugging (.561) and on-base percentage (.458). He and Phegley are tied for the team lead with two longballs each.

    In his first career Big Ten series, Schutz went 7-for-15 with three doubles, four RBI and three runs. His biggest hit came in the series finale, when he stroked a ninth-inning double high off the bags in right field of the Metrodome to bring home a pair of runs and give IU the lead over Minnesota. The weekend followed a career day at the plate against Xavier for the redshirt freshman, as he hit three singles and added a double for a career-best four hits. Schutz also drove in three runs and scored one to help the Hoosiers to victory.

    Schutz began the 2007 season as one of the top freshmen in the Big Ten, and was named to the AutoZone Classic All-Tournament Team after hitting .545 and slugging .727 for the weekend in Memphis. But his season came to a screeching halt in the seventh game of the season, when he collided with the outfield wall of Indiana State's Sycamore Field, breaking his collarbone and ending his season.

    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 2007 plus Michael Earley's five at Cincinnati last year.

    But the Hoosiers have already eclipsed last year's total, as Josh Phegley's bomb against Minnesota gave them nine for the season. Indiana has had seven different players hit home runs and the surge has gotten larger as of late, as IU has hit six of the nine home runs in its last nine games.

    Phegley and Kipp Schutz lead the way with two homers apiece. Additionally, the Hoosiers have one each off the bats of Ethan Wilson, Earley, Tyler Rogers, Jerrud Sabourin and Tyler Cox. The Hoosiers have an aggregate .442 slugging percentage on the season, up over 100 points from last year's .335. Through just 21 games, Indiana is already more than halfway (142) to last year's total of 244 runs as well.

    Sophomore catcher Josh Phegley has been one of the top performers in the Big Ten this year, as he is among the conference leaders in batting average (second, .436), slugging percentage (fourth, .628), on-base percentage (fourth, .493), runs (third, 22) and RBI (fifth, 21). Additionally, he has posted an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of over 1.000, as he currently clocks in at 1.123. He and teammate Kipp Schutz (1.019) are one of just two sets of teammates to both eclipse the mark, as Northwestern's Mike Kalina and Jake Goebbert comprise the other.

    He furthered his quest for an All-Big Ten selection in his opening conference weekend by hitting .385 with four RBI, a double and a monstrous home run to deep left center in the third game of the season. Players and staff with the Gophers called it the longest Metrodome home run they had ever seen by a college player in the facility.

    Phegley has also been a standout behind the plate, as the backstop has displayed one of the best arms in the Midwest, if not the nation. Opponents have attempted just 23 steals against Phegley, and he has retired 11 of them. His 52.2 stolen base percentage against is tops in the conference for everyday catchers. Last year runners stole at a 64.6 clip against him.

    Against Valparaiso, the Terre Haute native went 5-for-5 with five RBI and four runs scored and hit for the cycle - the first for a Hoosier since May 7, 2005. He also matched IU's school record with his five hits.

    Junior centerfielder Andrew Means has posted a hot start to the 2008 season, as he has scored a Big Ten-leading 30 runs in 21 Hoosier games this season. He is six runs ahead of second place - held by Minnesota's Matt Nohelty. He also leads the conference with his four triples on the year. As of March 30, he is tied for ninth in the nation in that category. His 1.43 runs per game ranked him 11th in the nation.

    Means saw his hitting streak snapped at 14 games after going 0-for-4 with a walk against Xavier, but he tallied a hit in each of the four games at Minnesota and has registered a hit in 19 of IU's 21 games this season. Dating back to the start of a 15-game streak last year, Means has hits in 37 of his last 42 games. Over those 42 games Means has a .404 average with 38 runs, six doubles and six triples.

    On the basepaths, Means has been just as important to the Hoosier offense this season, as he is 13-for-15 in stolen bases. He was 27-for-30 in 2007 and 16-for-18 in 2006, giving him a career total of 56-for-63 (88.9 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.

    More than any other inning, the score at the end of the sixth has been crucial to victory for Indiana in Tracy Smith's tenure in Bloomington. When the Hoosiers have led at the end of the six innings, IU is 43-3 over the last three years, including an 10-0 mark this season. When Indiana trails heading into the seventh, the team is just 5-66. Even more interesting is the fact that this season the Hoosiers have done the bulk of their scoring in the sixth. IU has scored 37 of its 142 runs in the sixth and has allowed just 12 in the frame.

    Sophomore second baseman Evan Crawford has continued to shine in his second season with the Hoosiers. The Reynoldsburg, Ohio, native has put together a .386 average with 15 runs, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases on the season. His hits have come in bunches this year, as he is tied for the team lead with six games this season of three hits or more.

    Crawford showed some lack of focus leading up to the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic, and as a result the coaching staff elected to put him in the stands for the second of a two-game series against Fresno State. Since that time, Crawford has been locked in, as he leads the team with a .423 average. He also has been on the ball defensively, as he has 50 assists and has turned seven double plays. The Hoosiers have gone 9-4 over that time period as well.

    Crawford was named the PJQ Classic All-Tournament Offensive Player, as chosen by the media. Crawford hit .464 for the tournament, tied for tops on the team, drove in eight runs and stole five bases to help the team to a third-place finish. Crawford was joined on the honors list by Gonzaga catcher Grant Kveder (Most Valuable Player), Fresno State pitcher Tanner Scheppers (All-Tournament Pitcher) and Fresno State second baseman Erik Wetzel (All-Tournament Defensive Player).

    Crawford's honor was his second on the season, as he was named to the Austin Peay Invitational All-Tournament Team along with fellow Hoosiers Matt Bashore, Andrew Means and Josh Phegley.




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