Hoosiers Head to Penn State
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana baseball team will play its last Big Ten Conference road series, May 2-5 in State College, Pa., at Beaver Field. The Hoosiers' battle with Penn State features the two teams that are tied for fourth place in the current league standings with 10-10 records and represents a chance for one team to move up in the standings by winning the series.
Friday's game is set for a 2 p.m. start. Saturday's doubleheader begins at Noon. Sunday's finale is also a Noon. start. (All times listed are Eastern Standard)
Indiana Update (27-15, 10-10 Big Ten)
Indiana comes into the weekend with a 27-15 record overall and a 10-10 mark in conference games. Last weekend, the Hoosiers hosted first-place Minnesota last weekend and the Gophers took three of four games from IU. Minnesota swept Saturday's doubleheader, 5-1, and 5-3. On Sunday, Indiana shut out the Gophers in game one, 2-0, but fell in the nightcap, 10-2.
Indiana is tied with Penn State for the fourth-place slot in the standings and both are in the hunt to be one of the six teams to make the conference tournament. Including this weekend, three Big Ten series remain. The Hoosiers will finish out the Big Ten season at home against archrival Purdue (May 10-12) and Northwestern (May 16-18). The conference tournament is May 21-24 and will be held at the home field of the regular season champion.
Senior third baseman Vasili Spanos is having another All-America season at the plate. Spanos currently leads the Big Ten in batting average in all games (.401) and in league games only (.455). He also ranks among the top five in nearly every other offensive category, including first in on-base percentage (.503) and second in slugging percentage (.701).
Sophomore Corby Heckman ranks second on the club with a .381 batting average, 51 hits and 11 doubles. Heckman's average puts him ranked fourth among Big Ten hitters. He also has30 runs scored and 17 RBI.
Senior Jacob Cary has enjoyed an impressive campaign thus far, despite losing his last two decisions. After seven straight wins to open the season, Cary (7-2) took losses to the Big Ten's top two teams. The Bruceville, Ind., native sports a 3.50 ERA, which ranks ninth among league pitchers, and has thrown five complete games.
Junior Chris Behrens has been impressive during his last two starts. After the first complete game of his career against Ohio State two weekends ago, Behrens followed with a five-hit shutout of Minnesota, the Big Ten's best hitting team. The lefthander is 4-2 and his 2.05 ERA ranks second among league pitchers, behind only 2002 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, Scott Lewis of Ohio State.
As a team, Indiana sports the Big Ten's third-best ERA of 4.06 in all games. Indiana is hitting .279 as team in all games and .266 against Big Ten Conference foes.
Scouting the Opponent: Penn State (18-21, 10-10)
Penn State currently owns an 18-21 overall record and a 10-10 mark in conference games. The Nittany Lions defeated James Madison 3-2 and 12-11 in a doubleheader on Wednesday. Last weekend, PSU split with a four-game series with Michigan. Penn State won the opener, 6-5, but Michigan battled back to take games two and three by scores of 4-2 and 6-5. The Nittany Lions earned a split with a 6-4 victory on Sunday.
Senior outfielder Wes Reohr, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, leads the Nittany Lions at the plate with a .356 batting average, eight home runs and 46 RBI. Freshman outfielder Derrick Barr ranks second on the club with a .338 average. The pair leads a contingent of six PSU players with batting averages over . 300.
Penn States's No. 1 starter Clayton Hamilton owns a 2-3 record and a 4.22 ERA in 49 innings pitched. Jim Farrell has also worked 49 innings for Penn State and has a 4-2 record. Farrell's ERA stands at 3.86 and he has logged a team-best 41 strikeouts.
Indiana and Penn State have played a total of 43 times in their histories and the Nittany Lions own a 24-19 advantage in the series. The first meeting between the two schools was on April 25, 1992, a games that the Hoosiers won, 6-3. In 2002, the Hoosiers won the first game of the series in Bloomington, 11-9. PSU recovered from the loss and went on to take the final three games of the series by scores of 6-4, 6-2 and 14-9.
Behrens Stepping Up
Junior pitcher Chris Behrens turned in a pair of excellent performances in his last two starts. Behrens pitched complete games for the Hoosiers in victories over Ohio State, the Big Ten's second-place team, and Minnesota, the league leader. Over those 16 innings, the lefthander has allowed only one earned run (three total runs). The 2-0 win over the Gophers was the first shutout of Behrens' career.
All of this is even more impressive you consider that, in his first two conference starts of the season, Behrens had a tough go of it. Against Illinois and Iowa on the road, he lasted on 0.2 innings and gave up a combined eight runs, five of them earned.
Spanos Pacing the Pack
Senior third baseman Vasili Spanos is the Big Ten Conference's leading hitter entering the weekend. Spanos ranks first overall and in league games only in batting average and in on-base percentage. The Big Ten Player of the Year Candidate's average is .401 in all games and .455 against Big Ten competition. In addition, he is in the top five in nearly every other offensive category. Here's a look at the numbers:
In All Games
Batting Average: .401 (1st)
Hits: 55 (6th)
Doubles: 15 (5th)
Total Bases: 96 (4th)
Slugging Percentage: .701 (2nd)
Walks: 26 (2nd)
On Base Percentage: .503 (1st)
RBI: 37 (5th)
Home Runs: 8 (T-4th)
Conference Games Only
Batting Average: .455 (1st)
Hits: 30 (1st)
Doubles: 8 (T-2nd)
Total Bases: 53 (1st)
Slugging Percentage: .803 (1st)
On Base Percentage: .532 (1st)
RBI: 16 (T-5th)
Home Runs: 5 (T-1st)
Heckman Having A Breakout Year
Corby Heckman has made his mark in his second season at Indiana. The Spencer, Ind., product has been the Hoosiers' second-leading hitter (by average) virtually all season along and has stepped up to get key hits in key situations for IU.
Currently, Heckman is hitting .381 in all games, a clip that ranks fourth among all Big Ten hitters. He has collected 51 hits and 11 doubles, the second-most on the team, to go with 17 RBI. In addition, Heckman hit his first career home run in Indiana's 2-0 win over Minnesota last Sunday.
Evans Heating Up in Conference Games
In a weekend where hits were few and far between, Nick Evans enjoyed a nice series against Minnesota. Evans, who has started 27 games at IU's designated hitter, went 4-for-6 at the plate, including a double, for a .667 weekend average. He also scored one run and drove in two others.
Evans is the Hoosiers' third-leading hitter in Big Ten games with a .301 average and his 10 RBI ranks second on the club.
In the Record Books
Vasili Spanos continues his climb up IU charts. Spanos has 40 career home runs, which ranks fourth in Hoosier lore. The senior third baseman is seven shy of the Indiana record of 47, held by college baseball's 1992 Triple Crown winner Mike Smith and former Hoosier Mike Sabo. Alex Smith is third with 43 homers.
In addition, Spanos' 175 RBI are tied for sixth on the IU career list and tied for sixth with 50 doubles. Spanos has also totaled 95 extra-base hits during his IU career, which puts him fifth in the record books.
Senior Jacob Cary is working his way into the career record books as well. Cary has 10 complete games, which puts him tied for 15th. He has started 30 games to this point in his career, which ranks 17th in IU history.
Indiana has outscored its opponents 251-186 this season.
Senior outfielder Kenny Marrs leads Indiana 10 hit-by-pitches.
IU is 8-7 in home games, 8-6 on the road and 11-2 in neutral site contests.
Indiana's longest winning streak of the 2003 season is six games, a stretch that came between March 9 and 18.
IU is 21-11 against right-handed pitchers and 6-4 versus lefties.
The Hoosiers are 5-3 in games decided by one run this season.
The last time Indiana swept a four-game series from a Big Ten opponent was in 1999. The Hoosier took four straight games from rival Purdue, April 9-11.
Indiana will not play a midweek game next week due to final exams. The Hoosiers return to action with a series against archrival Purdue, Saturday-Monday, May 10-12 at Sembower Field.
Check back soon