Baseball Sets For Pair of Cardinal Contests

    Go Hoosiers! Chris McCombs is scheduled to take the mound for the Hoosiers on Tuesday evening against Louisville.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Chris McCombs is scheduled to take the mound for the Hoosiers on Tuesday evening against Louisville.
    Go Hoosiers!

    April 15, 2008

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    INDIANA (15-16) AT LOUISVILLE (19-14)
    Patterson Stadium (2,500) • Louisville, Ky.
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Tuesday, April 15 - 6 p.m. EDT
    IU: RHP Chris McCombs (2-0, 4.05)
    UL: LHP Bob Revesz (0-0, 4.12)

    BALL STATE (19-11) AT INDIANA (15-16)
    Sembower Field (1,500) • Bloomington, Ind.
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Wednesday, April 16 - 3 p.m. EDT
    IU: TBA
    BSU: RHP Brenden Stines (1-2, 8.82)

    Indiana takes on a set of Cardinals this week, as it travels to Louisville on Tuesday and plays host to Ball State on Wednesday. The Hoosiers are coming off a tough weekend as Iowa came from behind in each of the last three games of the two-game series between the teams, and IU now sits at 15-16 on the season, under .500 for the first time since March 14. Josh Phegley had a monster weekend against the Hawkeyes and upped his average to .452 with a 9-for-15 performance in the three games.

    Louisville is 19-14 a season removed from advancing to the College World Series, and the Cardinals are coming off winning a weekend series with South Florida in Tampa. Ball State enters the week with a 19-11 record, though the Cardinals lost two of three to Bowling Green in Muncie last weekend.

    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 54-85. 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 371-305-1 (.549).

    Indiana holds an 18-10 edge over Louisville in the all-time series, as the Hoosiers renewed the series with the Cardinals last season following a 10-year respite. This year is the second consecutive season that the Hoosiers and Louisville will play a home-and-home series. Last year the Cards took the game in Bloomington 16-3, but the Hoosiers rebounded with a 6-5 victory in the game in Louisville.

    IU and Ball State have been relatively even all-time, with the Cardinals holding a slight, 23-22 edge. BSU has taken three staight matchups, including games in both 2005 and 2006. Last season's scheduled matchup between the two squads in Muncie was rained out. Tracy Smith is 0-1 against the Cardinals since taking over the helm of the Hoosiers.

    Louisville comes in with a 19-14 record and a 13-7 mark at home on the season. NCAA Regional hero Chris Dominguez has carried his hot hitting into this year as he has a .393 average, 11 home runs and 37 RBI on the season. Three other regulars - Justin McClanahan, Jeff Arnold and Andrew Clark - are all hitting over .300 as well for Dan McDonnell's squad. Starter Bob Revesz is making his second career start and has a 4.12 ERA this year.

    BSU has scored a whopping 302 runs in 30 games, as it has bashed 48 homers on the season and has six regulars clearing .300 on the year. Brenden Stines will make his ninth start of the season against the Hoosiers as he carries a 1-2 record and an 8.82 ERA into the game.

    What a weekend it was for sophomore catcher Josh Phegley against Iowa, as the backstop has emerged as one of the most feared hitters in the Big Ten. The sophomore went 9-for-15 with two home runs, 10 RBI and seven runs scored. Phegley added five walks and a hit by pitch to post a .714 on-base percentage, and he also slugged at a 1.067 clip to give him a stellar 1.781 OPS on the weekend.

    So impressive was Phegley at the plate that he drew four intentional walks from Hawkeye pitchers in Saturday's doubleheader. He started the weekend with his third five-hit game of the season on Friday, matching the school record.

    He followed with two home runs on doubleheader Saturday, including a seventh-inning grand slam - the first of his career - in the first contest. He also was robbed of one other longball on Saturday as Justin Brauer pulled a Phegley flyball back over the fence in game one. Phegley also stole a base in the series and added 10 assists from behind the plate.

    On the weekend, Phegley was a workhorse behind the plate, catching 582 pitches on the weekend - 273 on Saturday alone - as he was behind the plate for all 172 Iowa batters in the series. He also walked three times against Miami on Wednesday to push his on-base percentage to .720 on the week and a team-leading .521 on the season.

    The Terre Haute, Ind., native is among the conference leaders in batting average (second, .452), slugging percentage (third, .704), on-base percentage (second, .521), runs (fourth, 32) and RBI (first, 38). Additionally, he is one of just seven conference players with an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of over 1.000, as he currently clocks in at 1.225. Last Monday, he was ranked among the leaders in batting average in the nation, clocking in 17th in the country.

    Phegley has matched the school record three times with five hits in a game, including a 5-for-5 performance in which he hit for the cycle against Valparaiso. 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 44 steals against Phegley, and he has retired 17 of them. His 61.4 stolen base percentage against is second in the conference among everyday catchers.

    The Terre Haute native has a summer in the Cape Cod League to thank for his improvements at the plate. Last summer, he was named a Cape League All-Star for the Wareham Gatemen.

    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 average (.382), home runs (3), RBI (28), slugging (.553) and on-base percentage (.458).

    Schutz has been scorching-hot in the last 12 contests, as he is second behind Phegley with a .423 average and has posted a .615 slugging percentage and a .500 OBP to boot. He has seven doubles, 12 RBI and 15 runs scored over that time period. With that hot streak, he has entered the top 10 in the conference in slugging (sixth) and RBI (10th) and is 11th in average. His .438 average in Big Ten games is fifth in the conference.

    In his first career Big Ten series, against Minnesota, 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. He followed that up against Illinois with an 8-for-17 weekend with a homer and a pair of doubles.

    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 has had the same top four hitters in all but three games 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 have an average of .358 or better as they all find themselves in the conference's top 16 in batting average. The quartet has an aggregate .389 average on its 190 hits in 489 at-bats, making it the strongest top four in the Big Ten so far this season.

    The foursome has been even more impressive in Hoosier victories this season. All four are hitting over .388 in games that IU has won, and the quartet has gone a collective 110-for-248 (.444 average) with 63 runs scored, 67 RBI and a .625 slugging percentage. Conversely, in losses, the top four hitters have scored just 39 runs and have driven in 32.

    Crawford has been the extreme example, as his .508 average in Hoosier victories is best on the team, but he is just 13-for-62 (.210) in losses this year.

    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 zoomed past last year's total, as Josh Phegley's bomb against Minnesota gave them nine for the season. Since that time, the Hoosiers have added seven more, giving the team double the total of the 2008 season.

    With his two longballs against Iowa, Phegley leads the team with five homers on the season, while Kipp Schutz has added three and both Jerrud Sabourin and Michael Earley have two each.

    The Hoosiers have an aggregate .455 slugging percentage (second in the conference) on the season, up over 100 points from last year's .335 (last in the Big Ten). Through just 31 games, Indiana is nearly 90 percent of the way (217) to last year's total of 244 runs.




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