May 3, 2007
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SETTING THE SCENE
After splitting last weekend's series with third-place Penn State, Indiana heads west for a four-game set with fifth-place Iowa. The Hoosiers sit at 6-14, currently three games out of the playoffs, as sixth-place Illinois is 8-10 in conference action. The Hoosiers won their final two games of the weekend behind the clutch hitting of Jon Fixler, who drove in nine runs in the Hoosiers' four-game set against Penn State.
LAST TIME OUT
Indiana posted an 8-7 victory over Penn State in the series finale between the two teams. Jon Fixler had two hits and four RBIs, while Andrew Means went 3-for-5 with a pair of runs in the victory. Chris Squires pitched the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing four hits to garner his first career win in relief for IU.
The Hoosiers got single runs in the first two innings, while Penn State posted a solo run in the top of the second. Indiana broke things open with three runs in the bottom of the third, as IU batted around in the frame. Sterling Mack started the inning with a walk, and he moved to third on a single to right by Means. Fixler followed by doubling both runners home on a rope down the right-field line. After an infield single and an error on a bunt loaded the bases, Fixler was cut down at home on a Tyler Cox fielder's choice. Tyler Tufts then scored the third run of the inning on a Brad Henke sacrifice fly.
Indiana brought home three in the bottom of the seventh, with two of the runs of the unearned variety. Means led off the inning with a single, and he moved up to second on a PSU passed ball. Fixler then brought him home with a single through the right side to give the Hoosiers another lead. A sacrifice moved Fixler to second, and Chris Hervey came to the plate. The sophomore hit a grounder deep into the hole at shortstop for a single, and the throw from Scott Gaffney sailed high of first and out of play to move Hervey to second and score Fixler. Hervey moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball to give IU a three-run lead.
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 (email@example.com).
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Hoosiers have been facing the Hawkeyes on the diamond since 1914, and Indiana took the first three meetings with Iowa. Since, Iowa has taken control of the series and holds a 64-51-0 lead all-time against IU. In each of the last two seasons, Iowa has won three of four from IU, though each team has taken 10 victories over the last five years.
In 2006, Iowa took one-run victories in each of the first two games against the Hoosiers and then used a 6-0 shutout to take a 3-0 series lead. Indiana then battled back with a 10-5 victory in the Sunday matchup, with Jon Fixler leading the charge. Fixler went 3-for-4 with a career-best five RBIs in the win, while Andrew Means hit his first two career triples. Doug Fleenor collected the victory with 4 2/3 innings of relief for Indiana. In the victory, the Hoosiers scored runs in each of the first seven innings to break away from the Hawkeyes.
SCOUTING THE HAWKEYES
For the second week in a row, the Hoosiers face the task of cooling a hot team that is fresh off a sweep of Northwestern. Iowa has won nine straight, including seven in a row in the Big Ten, and have scored 10 runs in eight of the games, with the lone exception a 9-3 victory over Western Illinois on Tuesday. The Hawkeyes have only lost two conference series this season, dropping three of four to both Minnesota and Ohio State.
The Hawkeyes have been arguably the top offensive team in the Big Ten, boasting a .338 team average and seven regular starters hitting above .300. Travis Sweet leads the pack with his .419 average and 19 stolen bases, but Jason White has been the main power threat with his eight home runs and 32 RBIs. White also has posted a .360 average and 57 runs. Dusty Napoleon leads the conference with 51 RBIs.
HERV HEATING UP
Sophomore Chris Hervey has provided an impressive conference resume this season, as he leads the team with a .375 average and a .518 slugging percentage in Big Ten games. He is also second on the team with 12 runs in conference contests. Hervey is 18-for-48 with four doubles and a home run over his last 15 contests to raise his season average to .302. Hervey has a nine-game conference hitting streak, and has posted hits in 13 of his last 14 Big Ten affairs.
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 .367 over the last 28 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 52 putouts and three outfield assists. In his first season with the Hoosiers, Hervey played in 21 games, making six starts.
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 23 games. Since conference play started on March 30, Fixler has posted a .350 average, second on the team, and a squad-best .550 slugging percentage. The junior currently has an eight-game hitting streak and has recorded hits in 20 of the last 23 ballgames to raise his average to a season-high .310.
Fixler had a monster weekend at the dish against Penn State, going 5-for-13 with a sacrifice fly, as he delivered nine RBIs in the series. Fixler also took PSU's Ryan Stobart deep on a 1-0 pitch, driving a fastball over the fence in center field for his second home run of the season. He drove in four runs in Sunday's victory, his third game with four RBIs this season. He also drove in four Hoosiers against Purdue on April 15 and against Florida A&M on March 17. Fixler currently holds the team lead with 31 RBIs.
THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
Sophomore Andrew Means has put together a breakthrough season in his second year for the Hoosiers. Means leads the team with a .369 average, 21 steals and 29 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.
BIG TEN LEADERBOARD
Several Hoosiers have found their way onto the Big Ten leaderboard this season. Andrew Means is currently third in the league with his 21 steals, as he trails Illinois' Shawn Roof (32) and Michigan's Eric Rose (23). As a team, Indiana's 80 steals are second in the league behind Illinois' 91. Defensively, Keith Haas is second in the league with 133 assists on the year and is fifth with his 30 double plays. Third baseman Tyler Cox leads his position and is among the conference leaders with 105 assists.
Hurlers Matt Bashore and Tyler Tufts are currently eighth and ninth, respectively, in the conference in ERA. Bashore has a 3.21 average and Tufts a 3.46. Tufts leads the league in innings pitched with 75 1/3, while reliever Joe Vicini is tied for third in the conference with 19 appearances on the season.
Sophomore Tyler Tufts has had a breakthrough sophomore campaign after a bumpy freshman year on the mound. In addition to his durability on the mound, the Sagamore Hills, Ohio, native has shown tremendous control this season, allowing just 14 walks. His 1.67 walks per nine innings mark the third-best ratio among the Big Ten's regular starters. Only Purdue's tandem of Josh Lindblom (1.34 walks per nine) and Matt Bischoff (1.58) rate better on the scale than the sophomore hurler.
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 this month, 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 added his first career appearance at first base against Miami on April 25, coming on in the seventh inning.
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. That wrapped up a string of four straight weekends in which the Hoosiers slammed 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.
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.
MCCLELLAN MAKES DEBUT
Former Indiana pitcher Zach McClellan made his major league debut on Monday, April 16, throwing one inning for the Colorado Rockies in their game against San Francisco. McClellan became the 21st former Hoosier to play in the major leagues and the first this season.
McClellan, who was called up from AAA Colorado Springs to replace Byung-Hyun Kim, has made seven appearances on the season, throwing eight innings and posting a 3.38 ERA. He has struck out seven and his only walk this season is an intentional pass.
The 28-year-old had thrown four innings for Colorado Springs this season, allowing two hits and striking out three. Last season, he posted a 4.18 ERA in 64 2/3 innings for the Sky Sox.
The Toledo, Ohio, native had a 16-5 record with a 4.58 ERA in his Hoosier career from 1998-2000. In 2000, McClellan finished second on the Hoosiers with a 4.10 ERA and 63 strikeouts, starting 13 games and posting five complete games. He was selected in the fifth round of the 2000 MLB Draft, going to Kansas City with the 134th overall pick. He was traded from the Royals to the Rockies in 2004.
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 355-279-1 (.560) and a 38-59 mark in his two seasons at Indiana.
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 38 games for IU, while Josh Phegley has 32 starts and Sterling Mack and Brian Lambert have 18 apiece. Junior newcomer Reid Briglia has played in 26 games with 19 starts on the year. Freshman pitchers have thrown 176 of IU's 343 2/3 innings this season, and have made 21 of Indiana's 41 starts.