Hoosiers Take On Louisville, Valpo
April 7, 2009
Indiana at Louisville
April 7 4 p.m. EDT
Patterson Stadium Louisville, Ky.
Valparaiso at Indiana
Indiana plays midweek contests against Louisville and Valparaiso this week before facing a weekend series at Iowa over the weekend. The Hoosiers took two of three at Illinois last weekend, marking the second straight road series in the Big Ten that IU has won. Indiana has now earned a split or better in each of its last six conference series. Freshman DH Alex Dickerson - who was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday - was spectacular for the Hoosiers over the weekend, posting multiple hits in each of the three games and knocking a pair of homers. The starting trio of Blake Monar, Eric Arnett and Matt Bashore combined to allow just seven runs and 21 hits in 24 innings (2.63 ERA) to a potent Illini offense.
THE LAST TIME...
IU and Valpo last faced off in the finale of the Austin Peay Invitational and the Hoosiers won a wild one, 17-14. Josh Phegley hit for the cycle in the victory while going 5-for-5, and Ethan Wilson hit his first career home run in the win. IU leads the all-time series with Valpo 30-12-1 and has won the last two games.
Dan McDonnell is in his third season at the helm of Louisville after a long tenure as an assistant at Mississippi. He was named the 2007 National Coach of the Year after leading the Cardinals to the College World Series in his first season. Tracy Woodson is in his third season at Valparaiso, where he led the Crusades to third place in the Horizon League Tournament last year.
EA IS IN THE GAME
His Big Ten opener was extremely impressive last Saturday. Facing the 25th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers and with the Hoosiers amidst 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 somehow outdid himself against Illinois. The junior pitched a brilliant game on Saturday to outduel U of I hurler Ben Reeser. Arnett became the first Hoosier to pitch 10 innings in a game when he picked up his sixth win of the season with a 1-2-3 10th. Amazingly, he was still hitting 94 on the radar guns in his final inning. His final line showed him allowing seven hits and two walks, striking out six and allowing just one run in the contest.
Arnett's 51 punchouts are tied for second in the league and his 54.0 innings and six wins are first in the Big Ten. His 2.17 ERA (second) and .222 average against (fifth) both place him in the conference's top 10. He has also worked hard to improve his control, as he has only walked 14 batters for a 3.6-to-1 K-to-walk ratio. In his last three starts, he has a 1.38 ERA and has allowed just 17 hits in 26 innings.
Arnett did not have a typical offseason, as he tried out for the basketball team and earned 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, but practiced with the team until early January.
THE 400 CLUB
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. Last year Indiana went 15-17 in the Big Ten, and with a 3-2 record thus far in conference play, Smith is looking for his first winning conference season in Bloomington.
Smith amassed a 317-220-1 (.590) record with Miami and a MAC regular-season mark of 152-95 (.615). He led the RedHawks to eight straight 30-win seasons, marking only the second time the program had accomplished that feat, and he finished his career in Oxford ranked third on MU's all-time wins list.
Dickerson is a staple among the league's top 10, both in all games and just in conference games. He is tied for the league lead with nine home runs and his 83 total bases are six better than anyone else in the Big Ten. His .400 average (fourth), .722 slugging percentage (second), .457 on-base percentage (10th), 34 RBI (fourth) and 46 hits (second) are all among the conference's top 10.
The Poway, Calif., native has also developed a penchant for hitting key home runs. In the opening weekend against Minnesota, he drilled a go-ahead, two-run homer in Indiana's 3-2 victory. Then in the second game against Illinois, he hit his eighth homer of the year in the top of the 10th to give IU a 2-1 victory. He added a two-run shot in the series finale and was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week for his efforts against the Illini.
Dickerson, who had a 15-game hitting streak earlier in the season, has had two hits or more 16 times and has posted six three-hit games. He has also drastically cut his strikeouts as of late, as his streak of 31 plate appearances was snapped on Saturday.
WINS AND LOSSES
Jerrud Sabourin, who has been in the two hole for the last 20 games, has a .500 average with five doubles, three home runs, 16 runs and an .820 slugging percentage in the games that Indiana has won. But in losses, he is hitting at a .303 clip with only two extra-base hits and a .333 slugging average.
Alex Dickerson's splits are similar in wins versus losses. The freshman is hitting .511 with six doubles, six homers, 22 RBI and a .574 OBP in victories. But in IU's 16 losses, he is hitting just .324 with a .370 on-base average and a .515 slugging percentage. He and Sabourin have combined for 49 hits in Indiana's 12 wins on the year (4.08 per game).
Another key to victories has been the longball. Indiana has 22 homers in wins to just five for its opposition, while IU has 10 bombs in losses to 10 for its combatants. Indiana has posted a .965 fielding percentage in wins as well.
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 against Ohio State on March 20, 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 against Minnesota. He upped his game on Friday against Illinois, though, picking up his third win of the season with seven strong innings. He allowed just four hits over his final four innings of work and struck out a career-high seven.
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