Sycamores Come to Sembower Field Wednesday
April 23, 2008
INDIANA STATE (12-23) AT INDIANA (15-22)
Wednesday, April 23 - 4 p.m. EDT
THE FIRST PITCH
Indiana returns to Bloomington for a midweek contest against Indiana State after suffering a tough weekend in State College, Pa., against Penn State last weekend. Wednesday's game is the first contest of an 11-game homestand for the Hoosiers, as IU does not play away from Bloomington until May 9. This is the second scheduled game between the Hoosiers and Sycamores, but the first contest of the year - scheduled for March 5 in Terre Haute - was canceled due to inclement weather.
The Hoosiers are led by Big Ten Player of the Year candidate and Terre Haute native Josh Phegley, who brings a .431 average into the week and leads the team in home runs (5), RBI (42), doubles (13), slugging percentage (.650) and on-base percentage (.500). Junior outfielder Chris Hervey has also been scorching hot as well, as he brings a 15-game hitting streak into Wednesday's contest. ISU is led offensively by Chris Schmidt and his .354 average on the season, while Brady Shoemaker leads the squad with five home runs and 47 RBI. The Sycamores defeated Miami in Oxford on Tuesday, 8-5.
Lindsay Meggs is in his second season at the helm of the Sycamores and has a record of 38-49. Prior to coming to Terre Haute, he won 538 games at Division II Chico State and was a two-time D-II National Coach of the Year.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
ISU took a 5-3 decision in the contest in Terre Haute last year, with the most noteworthy occurrence being a first-inning grand slam that resulted in a broken collarbone for Kipp Schutz. In the second contest between the teams, ISU took a 9-7 win in extras at Sembower Field. Andrew Means had four hits and scored three runs in the loss for IU.
SCOUTING THE SYCAMORES
ISU has a .289 team average and has scored just 19 runs fewer than its opposition. The staff has a collective 6.47 ERA on the season.
BEHIND THE DISH
Phegley was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on April 15. The sophomore went 9-for-15 with two home runs, 10 RBI and seven runs scored. Phegley, who shared the honor with Michigan's Zach Putnam, picked up his first honor from the conference and the first POW selection by a Hoosier since Andrew Means was honored on March 20, 2007.
Phegley added five walks and a hit by pitch on the weekend 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 for the third time this season. 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.
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.
Earlier this year, Phegley posted a 5-for-5 performance in which he hit for the cycle against Valparaiso. He 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 51 steals against Phegley, and he has retired 18 of them.
The Terre Haute native has a summer in the Cape Cod League partly to thank for his improvements at the plate. Last summer, he was named a Cape League All-Star for the Wareham Gatemen.
Hervey has also emerged as one of the Hoosiers' leaders in his ability to get on base. The St. James, N.Y., native has reached base in every game since IU returned from California - a string of 23 straight contests. With that stretch, he has raised his on-base percentage to .438 on the year - third highest on the team and among the leaders in the conference. One of the reasons for his upswing in OBP is the 13 times he has been hit by a pitch this season - already the second-highest total in school history. He is just three bruises shy of matching Dan Haegele's school record, set in 1999.
When the Hoosiers departed the West Coast, Hervey was hitting at just .231 following an 0-for-4 contest against Portland. Since then, Hervey has gone 27-for-69 with five walks and has been hit by 12 pitches, giving him a remarkable .506 on-base percentage over that time, the top mark on the team. His .391 average and .536 slugging percentage are second on the team over that span, trailing only Josh Phegley in each category. He also has tallied three outfield assists in those 23 games.
The junior has gotten hotter as he has entered Big Ten play, though he saw one streak snapped in the series finale at Penn State. Hervey had gone 5-for-13 in each of the first three conference series, and was 5-for-12 entering the ninth inning of the fourth and final game. Due up fifth in the inning, his teammates rallied and Hervey came to the plate with one out and Dylan Swift at first. His streak of 5-for-13 weekends came to an end when he laced a double down the left-field line to move to 6-for-13 on the weekend.
With that performance, he now has a .404 average in conference play. His .515 conference OBP leads the team and ranks him fourth in the conference so far. He also added his first home run of the year with a shot to left field against Illinois in the series' second game. Hervey thrived in conference action last year as well, hitting .301 with a team-leading six doubles. His 15 runs scored in conference play were second on the team behind Keith Haas, while he hit one homer and drove in six runs for IU.
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 to give IU a lead over Minnesota. He followed that up against Illinois with an 8-for-17 weekend with a homer and two 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.
TAKE A BREATHER
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