April 25, 2007
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SETTING THE SCENE
Indiana heads to Oxford, Ohio, for an out of conference matchup with Miami University on Wednesday night at McKie Field. The matchup will pit Hoosier skipper Tracy Smith against his former team as the Hoosiers look to get off their recent skein. Miami is 19-16 on the season, but has lost six of its last seven, including a 13-2 loss against Indiana State on Tuesday. The Hoosiers are 14-22 on the year.
LAST TIME OUT
Ohio State got eight runs in the first inning to emerge with an 11-3 victory over the Indiana baseball team in the final game of the teams' four-game series. The Buckeyes took all four games of the series from IU.
The Hoosiers got on the board quickly with a first-inning run. Evan Crawford got things started with a looping single to center field and he moved up to second with his 14th stolen base of the season. After Keith Haas was retired, Andrew Means roped a line drive the other way off the wall and motored around to third with a triple to put IU up 1-0.
The lead was short for IU though, as OSU struck for eight first-inning runs off the tandem of Doug Fleenor and Billy Kitchen. The Buckeyes tacked on a pair more runs in the bottom of the second off Kitchen to extend their lead to 10-1. Eric Arnett then came on in relief for the Hoosiers and threw three shutout innings for IU, allowing three hits and one walk on the day. Chris Squires pitched the eighth and struck out a pair of Buckeyes in the frame.
The Hoosiers added a pair of runs on four hits in the top of the ninth, with Means adding an RBI double to his totals to give him a 2-for-5 day at the dish. Brian Lambert also had a double in the frame, while Billy O'Conner led off the inning with his first hit of the season.
At the plate, Chris Hervey turned in a 3-for-4 outing and was denied a perfect day at the dish on a diving stop by Brian DeLucia at third base. Evan Crawford had two hits in five at-bats, and added his 14th and 15th stolen bases in the contest.
Indiana Athletics Media Relations Staff Assistant Matt Brady is the primary media relations contact for the Indiana baseball team. He can be reached at his office (812-856-0215), via cell phone (413-222-2788) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Indiana is 36-28 all-time against Miami, with the teams going head to head in each of the last six seasons and in six of the last seven. The Hoosiers have won two straight battles with the RedHawks, including a 5-0 victory on April 25, 2006, when Doug Fleenor threw a one-hitter in his first career start. Fleenor held on to his no-no until the seventh, when Jon Franzese ended the bid with a single to right on a 3-2 pitch. Fleenor walked one and struck out four in the shutout win. Keith Haas had three hits and scored a trio of runs for IU in the victory, while Ben Greenspan went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
Miami enters Wednesday's contest with a 19-16 record, but the RedHawks have lost six of their last seven. On Tuesday, Miami was topped 13-2 by Indiana State, as the Sycamores scored four runs in the second, two in the third and four in the fourth to blow the game wide open. That followed a weekend in which the RedHawks lost two of three games to Kent State in Oxford. Prior to that series, MU had played 10 straight on the road.
On the offensive side, Miami is hitting .288 as a team with Jordan Petraitis leading the way with his .348 average. Petraitis is also tied for the team lead with three home runs and is third on the team with 23 RBIs. Chris Nadeau leads the squad with 28 runs driven in, while Brandon Hillier is the RedHawks' leader with 31 runs scored.
The MU pitching staff has an aggregate 4.62 ERA on the season, led by Tracy Smith recruit John Ely, who is 6-2 with a 3.15 ERA as Miami's Friday starter. Out of the bullpen, Bobby Oberschlake and Bailey Pratt have shut down the opposition, with ERAs of 1.40 and 1.93, respectively. Opponents are hitting .278 off the Miami staff on the season with 24 home runs. Eight different RedHawks have earned starts this season.
HERV HEATING UP
Sophomore Chris Hervey has been the Hoosiers' hottest hitter over the last 10 games, putting together a .406 average and a .594 slugging percentage. Hervey is 13-for-32 with three doubles and a home run over his last 10 contests to raise his season average to an even .300. The sophomore went 8-for-14 at Ohio State last weekend with a .600 on-base percentage to boot.
The St. James, N.Y., native's hot streak began against Purdue from April 13-15, when Hervey went 4-for-13 and had a pair of doubles and his first career home run in the series. Since opening the season on an 0-for-17 skid, Hervey has hit .381 over the last 23 games, including a career-best four-hit outing against Florida A&M on Saturday, March 17.
Hervey has also been a defensive standout for the Hoosiers this season in right field, making just one error with 39 putouts and three outfield assists. In his first season with the Hoosiers, Hervey played in 21 games, making six starts, and went 3-for-23 in his limited playing time.
THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
Sophomore Andrew Means has put together a breakthrough season in his second year for the Hoosiers. Means is hitting .359 with a team-leading 19 steals and 26 runs this season and has been one of the most dangerous players on the basepaths in the conference this season. In game two at Purdue on April 15, Means added some power to his resume, as he ripped his first career home run on an 0-1 pitch, sending a line drive high into the screen above the left-center field wall at Lambert Field.
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 was 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.
ON THE LAM-BERT
Freshman Brian Lambert has stepped up his game in recent weeks, and with his recent upswing at the plate, head coach Tracy Smith put him in the leadoff slot for the final two games against Ohio State. The left fielder went 5-for-12 over the weekend with three walks to give him a .533 on-base percentage. Since starting the season 1-for-16, Lambert has gone 9-for-30 with six walks, giving him a .417 OBP over the last 14 games, in which he has made 13 appearances and nine starts. He has also scored eight runs over the span, which is the second-highest total on the team.
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 18 games. Since conference play started on March 30, Fixler has posted a .344 average, third on the team, and a squad-best .531 slugging percentage.
In the series finale against Purdue on April 15, Fixler hit a two-run homer over the right-field fence in the top of the sixth inning, and followed that up with a two-run double in the top of the seventh. His four-RBI game was his second such contest of the season, as he also turned the trick against Florida A&M on March 17. Then, against Indiana State on April 17, the junior went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs, scoring Andrew Means on each of his three hits.
Indiana entered the Purdue weekend having hit just one home run, off the bat of senior Keith Haas, in 908 at-bats. Then, in the four-game set against Purdue from April 13-15, the IU bats exploded for four home runs in 117 at-bats on the weekend. Chris Hervey hit his first career home run on Friday, and Andrew Means, Michael Nilles and Jon Fixler followed with their first career blasts on Sunday.
The four home runs in the series were the most since the Hoosiers blasted seven against Michigan State from May 8-10, 2004. The wrapped up a string of four straight weekends in which the Hoosiers bashed four or more home runs. When Means and Nilles both bashed home runs in the top of the seventh, it marked the first time two Hoosiers had hit homers in the same inning since Haas and Reggie Watson went back-to-back in the third against Eastern Illinois on March 12.
Nilles pulled an even rarer feat in the second game of the series, as he hit a triple in the sixth before hitting his bomb to left field. He became the first Hoosier to hit a triple and a homer in the same game since Joe Kemp hit for the cycle against Michigan State on May 7, 2005.
BIG TEN LEADERBOARD
Several Hoosiers have found their way onto the Big Ten leaderboard this season. Andrew Means is currently second in the league with his 19 steals, but trails Illinois' Shawn Roof by a strong margin as Roof picked up his 30th steal over the weekend. As a team, Indiana's 73 steals are second in the league behind Illinois' 78. Defensively, Keith Haas leads the league with 119 assists on the year and is third with his 27 double plays. Third baseman Tyler Cox leads his position and is among the conference leaders with 91 assists.
Matt Bashore is currently fourth in the league in batting average against at .233 and leads all freshmen in the category. Tufts leads the league in innings pitched with 68 1/3. Reliever Joe Vicini is tied for the conference lead with 18 appearances on the season.
While sophomore Tyler Tufts has been one of the top pitchers on the team, his contributions have come from other places than on the hill. The Sagamore Hills, Ohio, native has earned two starts in left field over the last three 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.
Senior Keith Haas is at a new position - shortstop - but his performance so far in 2007 has been reminiscent of the 2006 all-region selection's previous campaign. So far this season, Haas has hit .298 and has one home run. His 20 RBIs are third on the squad, while his 21 runs scored are second.
Haas led the team with a .353 average last season, spending most of his time in the leadoff spot. His 119 assists are tops in the league and he has helped the IU defense turn 33 groundball double plays - one behind Illinois for the top spot in the conference - already this season. He has been strong on the basepaths again this year, swiping 11 bags and only being caught once.
With three games lost due to inclement weather this season, the Hoosiers have added a home game against Louisville, scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, at 3 p.m. EDT. Indiana will then face the Cardinals on their turf the next day, as IU heads to Louisville for a 6 p.m. contest on Wednesday, May 9.
MILESTONE FOR SMITH
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 353-271-1 (.566) and a 36-51 mark in his two seasons at Indiana.
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.
ARE YOU NEW HERE?
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 35 games for IU, while Josh Phegley has 29 starts, Sterling Mack has 16 and Brian Lambert has 15. Junior newcomer Reid Briglia has played in 23 games with 17 starts on the year. Freshman pitchers have thrown 155 of IU's 303 2/3 innings this season, and have made half of Indiana's 36 starts.