Baseball Heads to Muncie for Midweek Clash

    Go Hoosiers! Tyler Cox went 2-for-2 in last year's contest against Ball State. He and the Hoosiers travel to Muncie to face the Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Tyler Cox went 2-for-2 in last year's contest against Ball State. He and the Hoosiers travel to Muncie to face the Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 3, 2007

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    The Indiana baseball team will hit the road for a Tuesday contest against Ball State at 3 p.m. The game had originally been scheduled for Wednesday, but impending weather conditions led to the decision to move the game up a day. IU is now 11-11 on the season, while the Cardinals are 11-16.

    The Indiana baseball team was topped in its series final against Michigan State, 6-1, on Sunday. Tyler Tufts went 2-for-3 with a walk in his first career appearance in left field. The Hoosiers are now 11-11 (1-3 Big Ten) while Michigan State is 11-9 (3-1) on the year.

    Doug Fleenor got the start for IU, going seven innings, allowing eight hits, six runs, two earned, and striking out six as he was credited with the loss to fall to 0-2. John Dwan improved to 2-2 for MSU as he pitched seven shutout innings for the visitors.

    The Spartans got on the board with a pair of runs in the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. After Fleenor retired the leadoff hitter, a pitch inside got a piece of Brandon Doherty. Steve Gerstenberger followed with a single to right to move Doherty to third, and then Kyle Day drove home the first Spartan run of the day with a bouncing single through the right side. Chris Roberts followed with a sac fly to left to up the lead to two.

    Neither team scored again until the fifth, when Michigan State plated four unearned runs to stretch the lead to 6-0. Tufts started things in the bottom of the eighth with a one-out single, and advanced to second on a throwing error by the second baseman as Keith Haas hit into a fielder's choice. Crawford followed with an RBI single to center to make it 6-1. After Andrew Means hit into a fielder's choice, Jon Fixler walked to load the bases, but Ryan MacFarlane was able to retire Reid Briglia on a groundout to end the threat.

    The Hoosiers and Cardinals will meet for the 46th time in the history of the programs, with the Hoosiers looking to pull to .500 in the all-time series. Ball State currently holds a 23-22 edge all-time with a three-game winning streak against IU. BSU topped IU in each of the last two seasons, including a 5-3 victory on May 16, 2006, at Sembower Field. Eric Earnhart hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth for the Cards and the visitors added single runs in the seventh and eighth to take the victory. Tyler Cox went 2-for-2 with two runs in the loss.

    Ball State enters Tuesday with four losses in a row on its hands. Last weekend, BSU was swept by IU skipper Tracy Smith's former squad, Miami (Ohio) in a Mid-American Conference series. Prior to that, the Cardinals were bested by Purdue on Wednesday, March 28. BSU's last victory was an 8-7 victory over Indianapolis on Tuesday, March 29.

    BSU is led offensively by Kory Benbow, who is hitting .297 with seven homers and 16 RBIs on the season. All nine BSU regulars have scored 10 runs or more on the season and eight of the nine have driven in at least 10. As a team, the Cardinals are hitting just .267, but have hit 22 home runs and scored 136 runs in 27 games.

    The Cardinal pitching staff has an aggregate 5.32 ERA and opponents are hitting .308 off Cardinal hurlers. The strength of the staff has been the bullpen, led by Kyle Heyne and Adam Quinn. The two have made 12 and 11 appearances, respectively, and each has an ERA under 3.50. Heyne has saved seven of BSU's 11 triumphs of the season.

    Sophomore Tyler Tufts and freshman Matt Bashore continued their strong seasons on the mound against MSU. On the season, the Hoosiers' top two starters are first and second on the team in ERA, with Tufts posting a 2.47 ERA and Bashore possessing a 2.86 average.

    Tufts allowed 15 Spartan hits on Friday, but was able to contain the MSU offense to a single run, which came across in the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory. Tufts ended the game with 8 2/3 innings of work, striking out three and surrendering no walks in the contest.

    Bashore had his toughest outing of the season against MSU, but still managed to allow just seven hits in seven innings. The freshman walked two and struck out five, but the bulk of the Spartan damage was done by a pair of longballs - one by Steve Gerstenberger, one by Dennis Jones - to drive in four of MSU's six runs on the day.

    As if their contributions to the pitching staff weren't enough, Tufts went one step further, garnering his first career start in the outfield on Sunday. Tufts batted ninth and went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and a walk. He scored the only Hoosier run and tallied three catches in the outfield in the contest.

    Freshman Evan Crawford continues to impress in his brief time as a Hoosier. Crawford is hitting a team-leading .388 on the season. Crawford has registered hits in 18 of his 22 career games and is currently on an eight-game hit streak, matching his season high. He has registered 11 multi-hit games on the season, and against MSU tallied solo hits in each of the four contests. He is one of three Hoosiers to have four hits in a game this season.

    Crawford is the only Hoosier freshman to have started every game this year. He trails only Andrew Means on the squad in both runs (15) and steals (10). His 14 RBIs are tied for the team lead as well.

    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, taking part in 14 of Indiana's 21 groundball double plays this season. His 59 assists are second on the team behind Keith Haas.

    Several Hoosiers have found their way onto the Big Ten leaderboard this season. Andrew Means entered the week four behind Illinois' Shawn Roof (17) for the league lead in steals. As a team, Indiana's 47 steals are most in the league with three more than Illinois. Defensively, Keith Haas leads the league with 77 assists on the year and is third with his 17 double plays.

    As a team, the Hoosiers sit in fourth place in the conference with their 4.11 ERA on the season. Minnesota leads the league with a 3.49 mark on the year. Tyler Tufts is fifth in the conference with his 2.47 ERA while Matt Bashore is eighth at 2.86. Bashore leads all conference freshmen in ERA and batting average against. Reliever Joe Vicini is tied for the conference's top spot with 11 appearances on the 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 58 steals on the year to its opponents' 28. Indiana has been successful on 47 of its attempts this year.

    Means and Crawford sit 1-2 on the team in steals with 13 and 10, respectively, while Keith Haas is 6-for-6 on the season and Brian Lambert is 3-for-3. Tyler Cox, Josh Richardson, Chris Hervey and Sterling Mack are each 3-for-4. Reid Briglia, Ben Greenspan and Jon Fixler are the only players who have started more than two 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. In the week ending on March 18, 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 .358 with a team-leading 12 steals and 16 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.

    Senior Keith Haas is at a new position - shortstop - but his performance over the first 22 games have been reminiscent of the 2006 all-region selection's previous campaign. So far this season, Haas has hit .337 and has Indiana's only home run. His 14 RBIs tie him with double-play partner Evan Crawford for 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 12 times in 24 opportunities, a remarkable 50 percent of the time, and is hitting .478 when leading off an inning. Chris Hervey is 5-for-10 when leading off innings, making him the only regular with a higher average in that situation.

    Haas led the team with a .353 average last season, spending most of his time in the leadoff spot. His 77 assists are tops on the team and he has helped the IU defense turn 21 groundball double plays already this season. He has stolen all six bases that he has attempted to swipe this year.

    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. The Cherry Hill, N.J., native is hitting .293 on the season with a .414 slugging percentage.

    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.

    When the Hoosiers exploded for 16 runs and 20 hits against Eastern Illinois on March 2, it marked the highest total in each category 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 on March 13 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 this season and are 2-5 in Smith's career when games go to extras. The UNF game lasted 4:40, the longest contest since a 17-7 loss to Michigan State on March 31 of last year.

    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, freshman Evan Crawford has started all 22 games for IU, while Josh Phegley has 19 starts and Sterling Mack has 12. Junior newcomer Reid Briglia has played 16 games with 15 starts on the year.




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