Baseball To Face Boilers This Weekend

    Go Hoosiers! Josh Phegley and the Hoosiers head to West Lafayette for a crucial three-game series at Purdue.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Josh Phegley and the Hoosiers head to West Lafayette for a crucial three-game series at Purdue.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 1, 2009

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    Indiana at Purdue
    Lambert Field • West Lafayette, Ind.

    May 1 • 4 p.m. ET
    IU - LHP Blake Monar (4-3, 4.58) | PU - RHP Matt Bischoff (3-4, 4.90)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    May 2 • 2 p.m. ET
    IU - RHP Eric Arnett (9-1, 2.49) | PU - LHP Matt Jansen (3-5, 6.33)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    May 3 • 1 p.m. ET
    Game carried live on WHCC 105.1 FM
    IU - LHP Matt Bashore (4-3, 4.48) | PU - RHP Matt Morgan (3-4, 4.72)
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    Indiana sits just a half-game out of first place in the Big Ten heading into a crucial three-game series at Purdue this weekend. It marks Indiana's final series away from Sembower Field this season, as IU will play host to Northwestern and Michigan State to finish up the year. With a series victory over Michigan last weekend, Indiana improved to 10-4 in conference play. By taking the series from the Wolverines, Indiana extended its streak to nine straight conference series without a loss. IU is the only team in the conference that has not lost a Big Ten series this year. Indiana split its midweek contests, falling to Miami University 9-6 but trouncing Western Illinois 17-2. Alex Dickerson hit home runs in both games and drove in eight runs in the two contests. IU is just one game shy of .500 at 21-22 overall, while Purdue comes into the weekend 18-21 and 5-9 in conference action. The Boilers are currently in seventh place, half a game behind Michigan for sixth.

    Indiana faced the Boilers five times last season, going 3-2 against their rivals. After taking the first game of a four-game set at Sembower Field, Purdue led 4-2 in game two before Andrew Means hit a game-tying home run and Josh Phegley delivered a walk-off RBI single to give the Hoosiers a 5-4 win. IU followed that up by scoring 11 runs in the first inning of game three and tallying a 13-1 victory in the series finale. Indiana was the only team in the conference to win three times against the second-place Boilermakers. Purdue did have the last laugh, though, topping IU in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals 11-8 behind three home runs by Dan Black.

    Indiana is in its fourth year under the direction of Tracy Smith. In his time at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 93-123. Smith is now 410-341-1 (.546) in his 13th season as a head coach. The 2008 season was a significant upward turn for the Hoosiers, as Indiana made its first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2004 by rallying for a sixth-place finish in the regular season. IU then eliminated Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State at the conference tournament before falling in the semifinals to Purdue. With a 31-30 record on the season, IU had its finest season in Smith's tenure.

    Purdue is in its 10th year under head coach Doug Schreiber. In his first nine years with the Boilermakers, Schreiber accumulated a 253-252 record. Schreiber's squads have finished second in the Big Ten regular season three times and, in addition to last season's tournament championship appearance, have been nationally ranked twice. Before arriving at Purdue, Schreiber was an assistant for perennial power Arizona State and a member of the 1998 national runner-up Sun Devils.

    Junior Eric Arnett has emerged as one of the top arms in the Big Ten in 2009 as he is among the conference leaders in every category. The junior was also one of 50 pitchers - four from the Big Ten - named to the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year Watch List this week.

    Against Michigan over the weekend, Arnett had by far his toughest outing of the season, as a late-inning surge by the Wolverines saw six earned runs cross in 6 1/3 innings. Arnett was solid on both sides of a one-hour rain delay, allowing just five hits, three walks and two earned runs over the first six innings before a four-run seventh derailed his day.

    The win improved him to 9-1 on the season and 5-0 in the Big Ten. He is already tied for third on IU's single-season list with his nine victories and his five conference wins have already matched the school record. He now has a 2.49 overall ERA, third in the Big Ten, and a 2.41 conference mark. Arnett has allowed just 28 hits and 14 walks in his 41 Big Ten innings this season.

    Over his previous five starts, Arnett kept the opposition to two runs or fewer each time, as he put up a 5-0 record with a 1.30 ERA and a .168 batting average against (24 hits in 41 2/3 innings).

    Arnett delivered his third straight complete game at Iowa, hurling a two-hitter with a career-best 11 strikeouts. He earned Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance. It is the junior's first weekly honor from the conference.

    After an impressive Big Ten opener against Minnesota, Arnett somehow outdid himself against Illinois. Arnett became the first Hoosier ever to pitch 10 innings in a game when he picked up his sixth win of the season with a 1-2-3 10th.

    Arnett did not have a typical offseason, as he tried out for the basketball team and earned a roster spot. He served as a key post player during practice for the first 2 1/2 months of the season. Due to scholarship limitations, he could not play in a game, but practiced with the team until early January.

    By taking two of three from Michigan, the Hoosiers extended their streak of splitting or winning conference series to nine weekends. IU is the only Big Ten team this year that has yet to lose a conference set. At 10-4, Indiana is off to its best conference start since the 1991 team opened 10-3-1.

    Indiana's string of nine series without a loss is more than twice as long as the second longest in the Big Ten. Over the last nine conference series, the Hoosiers have a 21-9 record (.700), the best of any Big Ten team.

    It is also the longest stretch that Indiana has gone without a series loss since the conference went to series play. Indiana earned a split or better in all seven series in 1996, the only team to go a season without losing a Big Ten series. The 1996 team, which featured IU skipper Tracy Smith as an assistant coach, finished second in the Big Ten and won the Big Ten Tournament for IU's only NCAA appearance.

    We have all heard the old adage that "pitching and defense wins championships." And while that sounds like a line out of the Coach's cliché handbook, it has certainly shown it has some truth when you look at the Hoosiers in 2009.

    Indiana has hit better than any other Big Ten team in non-conference affairs (.346), but Indiana is just 11-18 in those contests. On the contrary, IU is 10-4 in conference play, but the offense has hit just .288, which is the fourth best mark in the Big Ten.

    On the other hand, on the mound and in the field, the Hoosiers have been very solid in conference affairs, as IU is first in the Big Ten in earned run average and fourth in fielding percentage. Indiana's 3.53 ERA is more than half a run better than the closest competition (Michigan State, 4.17) and the .243 batting average against by Hoosier hurlers leads the Big Ten as well.

    The defensive improvement has been even more stark, as IU's .970 fielding percentage in conference games is fourth in the league, but Indiana has just a .955 fielding percentage in non-conference affairs. Third baseman Vince Gonzalez is yet to make an error in conference play, and second baseman Tyler Rogers made his first Big Ten error against Michigan. Rogers has made 12 errors in non-conference games.

    Q HIM UP
    After a tough first inning of 2009, Chris "Q" Squires has been very strong. The Ft. Wayne native has come on as of late out of the pen (2.21 ERA as a reliever) to emerge as a solid closer for IU.

    Squires allowed two runs against Louisville, breaking a string of eight appearances without allowing a run. But he bounced back in a big way against Michigan. Squires closed out both of Indiana's victories on the weekend, earning a pair of saves to push his season total to five. The Wolverines got the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth, but Squires slammed the door in both innings, striking out Chris Berset to end the game.

    On Sunday, Squires came on with two runners on and two out in a 3-1 game and got Kevin Cislo on a flyout to left to end the eighth. Michigan got the tying run to the plate in the ninth in the form of leading hitter Ryan LaMarre, but Squires caught him looking at strike three to end the contest. Squires has four saves and a 0.82 ERA in conference action.

    A key to his improvement this year has been a downturn in the free passes he has allowed. After walking 17 in 21 1/3 a year ago, Squires has allowed just 15 bases on balls in 41 2/3 innings. He collected saves against Iowa and Penn State earlier this season, striking out the side in the ninth against PSU.

    After a stellar 2008 season, Josh Phegley entered 2009 with high expectations. Though it has been an up-and-down season for the Preseason All-American, his numbers are still among the best in the conference.

    Phegley enters the weekend among the league's top 10 in average (sixth, .379), slugging (second, .689) on-base percentage (second, .485), home runs (tied for first, 13), RBI (second, 54), runs (tied for first, 45) and walks (tied for third, 32).

    Against the Wolverines, Phegley had a big series both at the dish and behind it. The junior went 6-for-11 with a pair of solo home runs on the weekend. The second bomb, in the eighth inning of Sunday's contest, shifted the momentum back in Indiana's favor after the Hoosiers surrendered a run in the bottom of the seventh in a tight ballgame. The catcher also threw out four of seven Wolverines trying to steal off of him.

    Phegley posted his fourth career five-hit game against Morehead State on March 10, hitting three home runs and adding a double and single for six RBI. The huge game vaulted Phegley to his second career Big Ten Player of the Week mention and he was named to the College Baseball Foundation's National All-Star Lineup for Week Four.

    Phegley, who was a unanimous first team Preseason All-American at catcher this season, has played all over the field this year. The majority of his time has been spent behind the dish, but he has also appeared at third base and in both left and right field for the Hoosiers.

    Following IU's spring trip, Phegley offered his services to Coach Smith as a closer as well. The Terre Haute native was a pitcher in high school and made his debut on the mound against Cincinnati, striking out one in a perfect ninth.

    While Josh Phegley is the most feared hitter in the Indiana lineup, freshman Alex Dickerson has begun to establish himself as one of the conference's top power hitters.

    Dickerson is a staple among the league's top 10, as he is tied with Phegley for the league lead with 13 home runs and his 120 total bases lead the conference. His .377 average (eighth), .686 slugging percentage (third), 49 RBI (third) and 66 hits (first) are all among the conference's top 10.

    Dickerson has already dented Indiana's freshman record books in his debut campaign, as his 13 bombs have surpassed IU's previous record, set by Mike Sabo in 1985. He is only nine RBI shy of Phil Dauphin's (1988)mark of 58 as well. IU has never had a player named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

    The Poway, Calif., native has also developed a penchant for hitting key home runs. In the opening weekend against Minnesota, he drilled a go-ahead, two-run homer in Indiana's 3-2 victory. Then in the second game against Illinois, he hit his eighth homer of the year in the top of the 10th to give IU a 2-1 victory. He added a two-run shot in the series finale and was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week.

    After a slow start to the 2009 season, preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Matt Bashore has rebounded since the beginning of conference play. The Tipp City, Ohio, native is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched over his last five starts. Perhaps just as impressive is the fact that he has allowed opponents to hit just .223 and has surrendered just nine walks - an average of 2.5 walks per nine innings. That also works out to a ratio of 3.8 strikeouts for every walk.

    Prior to his recent surge, Bashore had a 7.24 ERA and the Hoosiers were 0-6 in his starts. He had been allowing the opposition to post a .331 average against him and was walking opposing batsmen at a rate of 4.3 per nine innings.

    Bashore has delivered impressive outings in three straight contests, although his last two have been starkly different. Against Michigan and Penn State, the strikeout artist who normally gets deep into counts has come right after his opponents, inducing many more ground balls. He has allowed 23 groundouts to just seven flyouts and 11 strikeouts. Against Penn State, Bashore was throwing first-pitch strikes all day, as he allowed just one three-ball count and delivered first-pitch strikes to 20 out of 27 batters (74.1 percent).

    Against Iowa, he matched a career high by throwing 8 1/3 innings, reaching double digits in punchouts for the first time in 2009 with 10 Ks. Bashore allowed just three hits over the first eight innings before running into trouble in the ninth. He punched out at least one Hawkeye in each of the first eight innings. He retired Iowa 1-2-3 four different times in the contest.




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