Hoosiers Set For Clash With Boilers

    Go Hoosiers! Senior Ben Greenspan and the Hoosiers travel to West Lafayette this weekend for a matchup with Purdue.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Senior Ben Greenspan and the Hoosiers travel to West Lafayette this weekend for a matchup with Purdue.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 13, 2007

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    The Indiana baseball team travels to West Lafayette, Ind., for its first Big Ten road series of 2007, as IU faces arch rival Purdue for a four-game set. The teams come in with nearly identical records, as IU is 13-14 with a 3-5 mark in the Big Ten and Purdue is 13-12 with a 3-4 conference mark. The Hoosiers are coming off a four-game split with Northwestern while Purdue lost two of three to Michigan State last weekend.

    The Indiana baseball team was topped in a non-conference in-state matchup on Tuesday, April 10, falling by an 8-1 score to Evansville. The Hoosiers return to action this weekend for a crucial four-game series against Purdue.

    IU got on the board first in the contest, with Evan Crawford starting the game off with a sinking liner to center field that fell out of the reach of Jim Viscomi and went for a double. Josh Richardson moved Crawford over with a groundout, and the freshman scored when Keith Haas delivered another grounder for an RBI.

    Starting pitcher Billy Kitchen pitched effectively for the Hoosiers, who used six different pitchers during their midweek affair. Kitchen threw two shutout innings, allowing three hits. Jarrett Casey followed and the Evansville sluggers got to the freshman lefty with four runs in the top of the third. UE got on the board with a Kasey Wahl solo home run, and three more runs came home when four of the next five Purple Aces hitters reached base. Eric Arnett came on in relief and promptly got Andy Pascoe to ground out to end the inning.

    Arnett looked strong in his 2 1/3 innings of work, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out two. Classmate Chris Squires followed with a perfect 1 1/3 innings and a strikeout on his ledger, but Danny Rosenbaum allowed a pair of one out singles, and a pair of Hoosier errors helped the Evansville cause as the Aces scratched across another single run.

    The Hoosiers and Purdue have been going head-to-head since 1897, and IU has a 129-114-2 lead in the all-time series. The last time Indiana went to West Lafayette, the Hoosiers took one of three contests, picking up a 9-3 victory in the series opener but losing a pair of 2-1 contests to finish off the weekend. Last season, the two teams split the series in Bloomington, with IU winning the first two but falling in the third and fourth games.

    The weekend series will also be a crucial one in the AT&T Crimson and Gold Cup, as Indiana holds a 6.5-5.5 lead over the Boilers. The winner of the series will get a point for its school, while a split will earn each school half a point. IU has won the Crimson and Gold cup in each of the last two seasons.

    Purdue is 3-4 in Big Ten action this season, having split a season-opening series with Illinois and losing two of three to Michigan State in East Lansing last weekend. The Boilermakers had a midweek game against Illinois State postponed due to weather. Starter Ricky Heines has been the difference maker for PU this season, as he has delivered strong pitching performances in each of his conference matchups, leading the Boilers to a pair of victories. Overall, Heines is 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 46 1/3 innings of work. His only two losses have come at the hands of national powers Auburn and Samford, while he has a 0.64 ERA in conference action. The rest of the Boiler pitching staff has an aggregate 6.46 ERA in Big Ten play.

    Offensively, Purdue is hitting .310 as a team with 152 runs scored on the season. Ryne White has a .414 average to go along with 10 doubles, three home runs and 24 RBIs. His .606 slugging percentage and .465 on-base percentage are both tops on the team. Jordan Comadena leads the team with five longballs, but he has posted just a .190 average in conference action. Kyle Reesing is the top threat on the base paths for PU with eight steals in eight attempts.

    Freshman Evan Crawford continues to impress in his brief time as a Hoosier. Crawford is hitting a team-leading .376 on the season. Crawford has already registered hitting streaks of eight and nine games this year. He is currently tied for the team lead in RBIs with 17 and is second in both runs (16) and stolen bases (12) on the squad. His .452 slugging percentage and .432 OBP are also tops for IU.

    Crawford, a native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, finished his senior year with a .462 average and 21 steals in 22 attempts. He has also stepped up defensively at second base, helping turn 16 double plays for the Hoosiers. His 63 assists are currently third on the team.

    Freshman Matt Bashore and sophomore Tyler Tufts have shined on the mound for the Hoosiers this season, as both are in the top 10 in the conference in ERA. The Hoosiers' top two starters are eighth and 10th, respectively, on the conference's ERA list, with Bashore posting a 2.59 ERA and Tufts a 2.91 average.

    Both pitchers did something even more important against Northwestern last weekend by posting complete games in their starts. Tufts allowed six hits and one walk in nine innings of work on Saturday, picking up a tough-luck loss as the Wildcats got all five runs off Tufts in the sixth inning. Bashore had an even more painful loss, giving up six hits and walking none in seven innings, allowing one run in a 1-0 defeat.

    Several Hoosiers have found their way onto the Big Ten leaderboard this season. Andrew Means entered the week two behind Illinois' Shawn Roof (18) for the league lead in steals. As a team, Indiana's 54 steals are most in the league with six more than Illinois. Defensively, Keith Haas leads the league with 95 assists on the year and is third with his 22 double plays. Third baseman Tyler Cox is tied for fourth place in the conference with 74 assists.

    As a team, the Hoosiers sit in fifth place in the conference with their 4.12 ERA on the season. Minnesota leads the league with a 3.39 mark on the year. Along with Tufts and Bashore's placement in the top 10 in league ERA, Tufts leads the league in innings pitched with 52 2/3. Bashore leads all conference freshmen in ERA and batting average against. Reliever Joe Vicini is second on the conference with 13 appearances on the season.

    Sophomore Andrew Means has put together a breakthrough season in his second year for the Hoosiers. Means is hitting .351 with a team-leading 16 steals and 17 runs this season and has been one of the most dangerous players on the basepaths in the conference this season.

    On Tuesday, March 20, Means was named the Big Ten Player of the Week after a week in which he hit .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.

    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.

    While Tyler Tufts has been one of the top pitchers on the team, his contributions have come from other places than on the hill. The sophomore has earned two starts in left field over the last two weeks, and each has seen him produce at the plate. In his debut, against Michigan State on April 1, Tufts went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored the Hoosiers' only run. In his second contest in left, Tufts scored a hit in two at-bats. The sophomore has struck out once and has made three putouts in left.

    IT'S A FIX
    Junior Jon Fixler, who has seen significant time both at first base and behind the plate this season, has buffed up his numbers over the last nine games. Since conference play started on March 30, Fixler is tied for the team lead with a .333 average and leads the team with his three doubles over the last nine contests. He has also slugged a team-leading .433 over that period.

    First baseman and designated hitter Ben Greenspan has used conference play to heat up his game. The senior has gone 5-for-14 (.357) in five starts during conference action and has a pair of RBIs. In non-conference play, Greenspan is just 4-for-24 (.167). Last season, the West Point, N.Y., native hit .311 with two home runs and 19 RBIs.

    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 67 steals on the year to its opponents' 33. Indiana has been successful on 54 of its attempts this year.

    Means and Crawford sit 1-2 on the team in steals with 16 and 12, respectively, while Keith Haas is 7-for-8 on the season. Six other players for the Hoosiers have more than one steal on the season.

    On Friday, March 30, Indiana not only earned a 2-1 victory over Michigan State, but the Hoosier victory also marked career win number 350 for head coach Tracy Smith. Smith won 317 games in his nine years at Miami of Ohio and the 2-1 win was his 33rd as IU's skipper. Smith now holds a career record of 352-268-1 (.568) and a 35-48 mark in his two seasons at Indiana.

    Senior Keith Haas is at a new position - shortstop - but his performance over the first 27 games have been reminiscent of the 2006 all-region selection's previous campaign. So far this season, Haas has hit .306 and has Indiana's only home run. His 17 RBIs tie him with double-play partner Evan Crawford for tops on the team.

    Haas led the team with a .353 average last season, spending most of his time in the leadoff spot. His 95 assists are tops in the league and he has helped the IU defense turn 27 groundball double plays - tops in the conference - already this season. He has stolen seven bases in eight attempts this season.

    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 26 games for IU, while Josh Phegley has 21 starts and Sterling Mack has 16. Junior newcomer Reid Briglia has played in 17 games with 16 starts on the year.




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