Baseball

    Hoosiers and Cardinals Set for Home-and-Home

    Go Hoosiers! Junior Chris McCombs is scheduled to start for the Hoosiers in his native Louisville on Wednesday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Junior Chris McCombs is scheduled to start for the Hoosiers in his native Louisville on Wednesday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 7, 2007

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    SETTING THE SCENE
    Indiana takes on Louisville in a home-and-home series Tuesday and Wednesday. The two teams will square off at Sembower Field on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and at Patterson Stadium on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Louisville enters the contest with a 32-15 record, while the Hoosiers are currently 16-28.

    LAST TIME OUT
    Sunday's series finale against Iowa was cancelled due to rain and lightning in the Iowa City area. The two teams were in the middle of the first inning when the umpires called the grounds crew out to put the tarp on the field.

    Iowa took the first three games of the series from the Hoosiers, earning a walk-off win on Friday and sweeping Saturday's doubleheader. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes took game one by a score of 10-2 before posting a 9-0 decision in the second game of the double-dip. Iowa moved to 27-15 and 14-8 in conference action, as it has now won 12 straight.

    The Hawkeyes put together a bizarre inning in the second, plating three runs on four infield singles and a Texas Leaguer. Tufts threw just 11 pitches in the inning despite facing eight Hawkeye batters. He got out of the inning with no further damage after Mack made a diving catch on the best-hit ball of the inning, but Iowa emerged with a 4-1 lead.

    The Hoosiers got one back in the top of the fourth with a leadoff double by Ben Greenspan and a pair of groundouts. The Hoosiers had another strong opportunity in the top of the fifth with runners at the corners and Hervey at the plate, but the sophomore again was doubled up on a 6-4-3 double play. But Iowa put things away with five runs in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 9-2. The Hawks added a single run in the sixth for the final result.

    In the second game, Iowa got a run in the top of the first on a leadoff home run by Jason White, then added three more in the bottom of the third on three hits and an error to take an early 4-0 lead and went on to win 9-0.

    THE ALL-TIME SERIES
    Though Indiana and Louisville began their series in 1937, it has been more than 10 years since the two squads last faced each other. The Hoosiers have a 17-9 advantage in the all-time series, including four straight wins heading into the mid-week clash. The last time the two squads did battle, IU took a 7-0 win in six innings on March 5, 1997, in Bloomington. In that game, Brian Partenheimer allowed two hits and struck out seven in six innings to earn the victory. Micah Nori, who was an assistant coach last year for the Hoosiers and is the son of current IU volunteer assistant Fred Nori, went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly in the contest.

    SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
    Louisville enters the week having lost two of three in a BIG EAST series at St. John's last weekend but have won four of their last six contests overall. The Cardinals have been monsters statistically, hitting .312 on the season and posting a 2.82 ERA on the mound. Offensively, Isaiah Howes and Logan Johnson have been the big bats, with Howes posting a .392 average and 42 RBIs and Johnson hitting .388 with 45 RBIs. Each has 10 home runs on the year. Boomer Whiting has been one of the top speedsters in the nation, leading the nation with 55 steals on the year.

    The play on the mound has been just as impressive as the staff has a 2.82 ERA and a .214 average against on the year. Trystan Magnuson has been nearly unhittable out of the bullpen, posting a 1.02 ERA and six saves in 23 appearances. Projected Tuesday starter Skylar Meade has a 6-2 record with a 3.58 ERA, while Wednesday's projected pitcher, James Belanger, is 1-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 39 innings.

    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 .377 average, 23 steals and 30 runs this season and has been one of the most dangerous players on the basepaths in the conference this season. This weekend, Means went 5-for-10 to lead the team and extend his season-long hitting streak to 10 games.

    On April 15 against Purdue, 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.

    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 .341 average, second on the team, and a squad-best .523 slugging percentage. The junior currently had a 10-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday and has recorded hits in 22 of the last 26 ballgames to raise his average to .307.

    Fixler had a monster weekend at the dish against Penn State, on April 27-29, 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.

    FAIR IS FERRELL
    Freshman Jason Ferrell had not pitched in nearly two weeks, but did not show any rust against Iowa on Friday. The freshman shut down the squad with seventh-highest batting average in the nation, allowing five hits, one walk and one run in 6 1/3 innings of work against the Hawkeyes in earning a no-decision. The freshman lowered his ERA to 5.77 with the performance and dropped his batting average against to .267, second-best among IU regulars.

    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 23 steals, as he trails Illinois' Shawn Roof (35) and Michigan's Eric Rose (25). As a team, Indiana's 82 steals are second in the league behind Illinois' 99. Defensively, Keith Haas is second in the league with 137 assists on the year and is among the leaders with his 30 double plays. Third baseman Tyler Cox leads his position and is among the conference leaders with 111 assists.

    Hurlers Matt Bashore and Tyler Tufts are currently fifth and ninth, respectively, in the conference in ERA. Bashore has a 3.21 average and Tufts a 3.84. Tufts is second in the league in innings pitched with 77 1/3, while reliever Joe Vicini is tied for second in the conference with 21 appearances on the season.

    CONTROL FREAK
    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 1.63 walks per nine innings mark the third-best ratio among the Big Ten's regular starters. Only Purdue's tandem of Josh Lindblom (1.29 walks per nine) and Matt Bischoff (1.33) rate better on the scale than the sophomore hurler.

    TUFTS ENOUGH
    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 earned two starts in left field in April, and provided solid contributions in each. 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. He also played first in games one and four against Penn State on April 27-29, and came on in the late innings against Iowa on Friday night.

    POWER SURGE
    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.

    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 eight appearances on the season, throwing 10 innings and posting a 2.70 ERA. He has struck out 11 and allowed 12 hits and three walks on the season.

    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 355-282-1 and a 38-62 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 40 games for IU, while Josh Phegley has 34 starts, Sterling Mack has 20 and Brian Lambert has 19. Junior newcomer Reid Briglia has played in 27 games with 19 starts on the year. Freshman pitchers have thrown 187 1/3 of IU's 364 1/3 innings this season, and have made 23 of Indiana's 44 starts.

     

     

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