Baseball Treks to Iowa for Three With Hawkeyes

    Go Hoosiers! Blake Monar will take the hill for Indiana on Friday night against Iowa.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Blake Monar will take the hill for Indiana on Friday night against Iowa.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 9, 2009

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    Indiana at Iowa • April 10-12
    Duane Banks Field • Iowa City, Iowa

    April 10 • 6 p.m. CT
    IU - LHP Blake Monar (3-2, 4.70) | IOWA - RHP Nick Brown (2-1, 5.70)
    Game carried live on WHCC 105.1 FM
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    April 11 • 1:30 p.m. CT
    IU - RHP Eric Arnett (6-1, 2.17) | IOWA - LHP Jarred Hippen (1-1, 3.56)
    Game carried live on the Big Ten Network
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    April 12 • 1:30 p.m. CT
    IU - LHP Matt Bashore (1-3, 6.03) | IOWA - RHP Phil Schreiber (1-0, 2.91)
    Game carried live on the Big Ten Network
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Indiana heads to Iowa City this weekend for its second straight road weekend. The Hoosiers took two of three at Illinois, marking the second straight road series in the Big Ten that IU has won, and 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. IU, which split games with Louisville (15-1 loss) and Valpo (9-5 win) in midweek contests, is just 1/2 game out of first place, held by Illinois after two weeks of conference play.

    Indiana played an offensive four-game series with the Hawkeyes at Sembower Field last year in the third weekend of conference play. The Hoosiers took the opener on a come-from-behind, 13-12 victory in the first game of the series before the Hawkeyes rebounded with wins of 12-11, 13-10 and 10-5 to take the weekend series three games to one. Josh Phegley picked up co-Player of the Week honors for his performance on the weekend, going 9-for-15 with two home runs, 10 RBI and four intentional walks. Iowa leads the all-time series, 70-52, and has taken six of the last seven games in Iowa City between the two teams.

    Indiana is in its fourth year under the direction of Tracy Smith. In his time at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 85-118. Smith is now 402-336-1 (.543) in his 13th season as a head coach. 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.

    Jack Dahm is in his sixth year at Iowa, where he has done a strong job of rebuilding the Hawkeye baseball program. He is third all-time at Iowa with his 136 career victories and he has 408 wins in his 16th year as a college head coach. Prior to arriving in Iowa City, Dahm spent 18 years with the Creighton program as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

    Junior Eric Arnett has always possessed the potential to be one of the top arms in the conference and the nation, but his third season has been by far his most impressive. The Pataskala, Ohio, native has come through to post some of the top numbers in the Big Ten in 2009.

    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 (sixth) 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
    With Friday night's 14-4 win over Illinois, head coach Tracy Smith picked up his 400th career victory as a collegiate skipper. Smith is now 402-336-1 (.543) in his 13th season at the helm of a college program.The Kentland, Ind., native improved his record with the Hoosiers to 85-118 in his fourth season at the head of the program.

    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.

    While Josh Phegley is the most feared hitter in the Indiana lineup, freshman Alex Dickerson has begun to establish himself as one of the conference's top power hitters.

    Dickerson is a staple among the league's top 10, both in all games and just in conference games. He leads the league with 10 home runs and his 90 total bases are 12 better than anyone else in the Big Ten. His .398 average (third), .732 slugging percentage (first), .452 on-base percentage (10th), 37 RBI (third) and 49 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 17 times and has posted seven three-hit games. He has drastically cut his strikeouts as of late, as his streak of 31 plate appearances without a K ended Saturday.

    While Josh Phegley's impressive numbers (.377 average, 8 HR, 38 RBI) have been among the best in the conference, his performance has been remarkably consistent regardless of whether the team wins or loses (.392 in wins, .365 in losses). However, the batters who surround him in the lineup have had remarkably better numbers in victories as compared to defeats.

    Jerrud Sabourin, who has been in the two hole for the last 22 games, has a .472 average with five doubles, three home runs, 17 runs and an .764 slugging percentage in the games that Indiana has won. But in losses, he is hitting at just a .290 clip with two extra-base hits and a .319 slugging average.

    Alex Dickerson's splits are similar in wins versus losses. The freshman is hitting .519 with seven doubles, seven homers, 25 RBI and an astonishing 1.058 slugging average. But in IU's 17 losses, he is hitting just .310 with a .355 on-base average and a .493 slugging percentage. He and Sabourin have combined for 53 hits in IU's 13 wins on the year.

    Another key to victories has been the longball. Indiana has 23 homers in wins to just five for its opposition, while IU has 10 bombs in losses to 12 for its combatants. Indiana has posted a .965 fielding percentage in wins as well.

    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 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.

    After a stellar 2008 season, Josh Phegley entered 2009 with high expectations. Though it has been an up-and-down season for the Preseason All-American, his numbers are still among the best in the conference.

    Phegley enters the weekend 10th in the conference in batting average (.377), fifth in slugging (.675) and fourth in on-base percentage (.479). His 38 RBI are just two off the conference lead and with eight longballs, he is fifth in the Big Ten. The junior has not seen very many pitches to hit, as he is third in the league with 22 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.

    He had another big game in the series opener with Illinois, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a double, driving in five runs and scoring four times. He now has five homers, 18 RBI and a .383 average in 12 career games against the Illini, despite the fact that he went 1-for-12 as a freshman against U of I.

    Phegley, who was a unanimous first team Preseason All-American at catcher this season, has played all over the field this year. The majority of his time has been spent behind the dish, but he has also appeared at third base and in both left and right field for the Hoosiers. Following IU's spring trip, Phegley offered his services to Coach Smith as a closer as well. The Terre Haute native was a pitcher in high school and made his debut on the mound against Cincinnati, striking out one in a perfect inning.

    When the Hoosiers came back from a 1-0 deficit entering the ninth to defeat Illinois on Saturday, it marked the first come-from-behind victory of that ilk for Indiana since April 11, 2008, against Iowa, a 13-12 victory. IU also won after trailing entering the ninth against IPFW on March 22 of last year, the first such road victory since a 5-3 win over Florida A&M on March 17, 2007.

    More interesting is the fact that all of the comebacks have involved senior outfielder Chris Hervey. Against Illinois, Hervey delivered the two-out single that scored the tying run in the ninth. In the Iowa win, Hervey's RBI single scored the winning run, while against IPFW Hervey scored the winning run himself on an Andrew Means RBI single. In the FAMU game, Hervey's spot in the lineup scored the winning run, though current assistant coach Ben Greenspan pinch-hit for Hervey in the victory.




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