Baseball

    Hoosiers Host Boilers in Crucial Big Ten Battle

    Go Hoosiers! Matt Bashore and his IU teammates will take on Purdue this weekend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Matt Bashore and his IU teammates will take on Purdue this weekend on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 1, 2008

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    PURDUE (25-17, 16-4) AT INDIANA (18-24, 6-14)
    Sembower Field (1,500) • Bloomington, Ind.

    Saturday, May 3 - 1 p.m. EDT
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    IU: RHP Eric Arnett (3-2, 5.02)
    PU: RHP Matt Bischoff (3-2, 4.08)

    Sunday, May 4 - 1 p.m. EDT
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    IU: LHP Matt Bashore (4-3, 2.76)
    PU: LHP Matt Jansen (3-1, 6.75)

    Sunday, May 4 - 3:30 p.m. EDT
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    IU: RHP Chris McCombs (2-2, 6.67)
    PU: RHP Allan Donato (2-4, 4.44)

    Monday, May 5 - 1 p.m. EDT
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    IU: RHP Tyler Tufts (3-5, 6.51)
    PU: LHP Kyle Cook (3-1, 3.62)


    THE FIRST PITCH
    Indiana will take on second-place Purdue in what could be a crucial series for both teams. After splitting with first-place Michigan last weekend, IU is tied for eighth place in the conference and could work its way back into the Big Ten Tournament picture with a strong four-game set against the arch-rival Boilermakers. Coupled with Purdue's sweep of Minnesota, the Hoosiers' split with the Wolverines did a favor for the Boilers, who are now just one game back of first place in their quest to host the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue has one of the top pitching staffs in the conference with an aggregate 4.13 ERA, led by preseason All-American Matt Bischoff and bullpen ace Josh Lindblom. The Hoosiers are led by Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Josh Phegley, who leads the Big Ten and is ninth in the nation with a .441 batting average this season.

    THE COACH
    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 57-93. 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 Big Ten Player of the Year and All-America candidate Josh Phegley, who leads the conference with a .441 average and is in the conference's top five in nearly every category. In 11 years as a head coach, Smith has a career record of 374-313-1 (.544).

    THE ALL-TIME SERIES
    Indiana and Purdue have a long and storied rivalry in baseball that stretches back to a 21-11 Hoosier victory in 1897. Indiana holds an edge in the all-time series 130-117-2. Tracy Smith is 3-5 against the Boilermakers in his tenure in Bloomington.

    Last year, the teams fought through terrible weather in West Lafayette, as the Boilers won three of four from IU. Purdue took a close contest in game one, winning 4-2 on Friday. On Saturday, rain forced the suspension of the first game of the doubleheader before an out had been recorded. The Hoosiers went on to win the resumption of that game, 11-3, but Purdue took games three and four to win the series. The last time the teams met in Bloomington, the series was split 2-2.

    SCOUTING THE BOILERMAKERS
    Purdue is in a dogfight with Michigan for both the title of hottest team in the conference and for the conference title itself. The Boilers are just one game out of first place after sweeping Minnesota last weekend and stand at 16-4. After starting the season 0-9, Purdue has gone 25-8 since to place their record at second-best in the conference.

    The Boilermakers lead the league with a collective 4.13 ERA and have good depth throughout their staff. 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Matt Bischoff is the staff ace, but freshman southpaw Kyle Cook has had a strong season with his 3.62 ERA. Josh Lindblom and Chris Ivanic have been one of the Big Ten's top 1-2 punches out of the bullpen, while sluggers Ryne White and Dan Black lead the PU offense.

    AT&T CRIMSON AND GOLD CUP UPDATE
    The rivalry between IU and Purdue continues with the 2007-08 AT&T Crimson & Gold Cup. The overall winner of the contest will be awarded a trophy at the end of the season.

    Each sport can earn one point toward the overall championship. A total of 21 points can be won. The winner of regular season head-to-head competition earns the point for its institution. Should the teams split or tie in regular season competition the point is split between the two institutions (i.e. if each team wins two games in baseball the point is split). If the two institutions do not compete in head-to-head regular season competition, the team that places higher at the Big Ten Championship will earn the point. Should they tie in conference championship competition the point will be split. In the sport of track & field three-way meets that are scored as dual meets do not count as head-to-head competition.

    In the 2007-08 edition, the Hoosiers enter this weekend with a 9.00-7.00 lead on their counterparts from West Lafayette with four points still up for grabs. There are only four sports with remaining competitions, with baseball and softball both competing this weekend and the outdoor track & field teams finishing off the competition at the 2008 Big Ten Championships. Indiana won key points from the Boilers with a 27-24 victory in the Old Oaken Bucket Game and a 77-68 triumph on the hardwood over a scorching-hot Boilermaker squad. The Boilers took the championship in 2006-07 by a score of 10.5-9.5 to break a string of two straight wins by the Hoosiers.

    BEHIND THE DISH
    Sophomore catcher Josh Phegley has posted one of the top seasons by a Hoosier in recent memory, as he has emerged as a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate in his second season in Bloomington. The Terre Haute, Ind., native is among the conference leaders in batting average (first, .441), slugging percentage (third, .691), on-base percentage (second, .514), runs (fifth, 45) and RBI (second, 48).

    As of Monday, he was ranked among the leaders in the nation in batting average, clocking in ninth in the country. Among catchers, only Florida State phenom Buster Posey has a higher average, and no other underclassman is in the top 10 in the nation in average.

    The sophomore backstop is looking to become the first Hoosier since Vasili Spanos in 2003 to lead the league in batting. Indiana has not had a Big Ten Player of the Year since 2002, when Kennard Jones picked up the honor.

    Looking deeper at Phegley's numbers, he has been incredibly consistent in his ability to hit in any situation. The catcher has hit best with no strikes (.556), but he also has an impressive .403 average and .552 slugging percentage with two strikes. Phegley is 8-for-16 in 1-2 counts and has hit two of his seven home runs with two strikes. That said, Phegley has had remarkable success early in his at-bats, as he is hitting .500 with two longballs when he puts the first pitch in play and has hit a remarkable .833 with a 1-0 count.

    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.

    Earlier this year, Phegley posted a 5-for-5 performance in which he hit for the cycle against Valparaiso. That was the first of his three five-hit games this season, each one matching the school record. He has 20 multi-hit games on the season.

    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 61 steals against Phegley, and he has retired 20 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, where he is planning to return following the 2008 campaign.

    BASHORE PICKS UP SECOND WEEKLY HONOR
    Sophomore lefty Matt Bashore has been named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, the conference office announced Monday, his second Pitcher of the Week honor this season. Bashore was outstanding in a pitcher's duel with Michigan's Chris Fetter, allowing just five hits over seven innings of work in leading the Hoosiers to a 2-1, walkoff win over the Wolverines.

    Bashore is the first Hoosier pitcher since Chad Smith in 1998 to pick up Pitcher of the Week laurels twice in one season. Bob Scafa (three times in 1993) is the only other IU hurler to garner the honor more than once in a single year. Bashore is also the only Big Ten player this season that has been named Pitcher of the Week more than once.

    Michigan got a runner in scoring position with less than two outs in the first, second and fourth innings, but each time Bashore dug deep and got a crucial strikeout. He notched back-to-back Ks to end the second - striking out the side - and caught Jason Christian and Leif Mahler looking in consecutive at-bats to finish off the third. Bashore posted seven strikeouts through his first four innings of work.

    After seeing the Wolverines tie the game in the top of the sixth, Bashore worked his way out of a two-on, one-out jam with a grounder and then a crucial strikeout of Alan Oaks to end the inning. He then capped off his performance by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to end the seventh before the Hoosiers earned a walk-off win in the bottom of the inning.

    The sophomore is currently third in the conference with a 2.76 ERA and is fourth with a .221 batting average against. He leads the Big Ten with 65 strikeouts this season in 58 2/3 innings of work on the year.

    Bashore was also named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on March 17, the first Pitcher of the Week honor by a Hoosier since Nick Otte in 2001. Bashore had a career-high and then-Big Ten season-high 12 strikeouts in the Hoosiers' 7-0 win over Portland on Friday at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic to propel the Hoosiers into a tie for first in the round-robin portion of the Classic.

    Bashore pitched eight innings, allowing just six hits - three infield singles - in the game. His 12 Ks are the most by a Hoosier since current Colorado Rockies hurler Zach McClellan had 14 against Vermont on March 18, 2000.

    SCHEDULE NOTE
    Indiana's game against Cincinnati, scheduled for May 7, has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict. With that date coming open, the Hoosiers and Boilermakers agreed to change their series to a Saturday-Sunday-Monday competition as opposed to the previously agreed upon schedule of doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday. The two teams were unable to play the normal Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule due to the fact that both schools are in their exam weeks. IU will still take on Louisville on Tuesday, May 6.

    GOING STREAKING
    Chris Hervey has quietly put together a stellar season for the Hoosiers in 2008. The junior has a stellar 20-game hitting streak - the longest of the season by any Big Ten player - to move his average to .328 on the season. That puts him 64 points above his average from last year and 85 points higher than his career mark heading into the season.

    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 28 straight contests. With that stretch, he has raised his on-base percentage to .430 on the year - second 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 just .231 following an 0-for-4 contest against Portland. Since then, Hervey has gone 32-for-86 with seven walks and has been hit by 12 pitches, giving him a remarkable .481 on-base percentage over that time. His .372 average and .500 slugging percentage trail only Josh Phegley over that span. He also has tallied three outfield assists in those 24 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. He evened things out by going 4-for-13 against Michigan.

    With that performance, he now has a .385 average in conference play. His .494 conference OBP is second on the team and ranks him 10th 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.

     

     

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