Bulldogs Head to Sembower For IU Home Finale
May 13, 2008
BUTLER (10-31) AT INDIANA (23-28)
IU: LHP Kyle Leiendecker (3-0, 7.66)
THE FIRST PITCH
Indiana plays its final home game of the 2008 season on Tuesday with in-state rival Butler bound for Bloomington. The Hoosiers are coming off a weekend split with Northwestern that has the Hoosiers two games out of the playoffs behind the Wildcats. The top six teams make the Big Ten Tournament, and IU will be looking to make up a pair of games when they head to East Lansing, Mich., for a four-game set with Michigan State. Indiana needs to take three of four from MSU in addition to making up two games on NU in order to return to the postseason for the first time since 2003.
The Hoosiers are led by Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Josh Phegley, who is putting up arguably the best season by an Indiana batsman since Mike Smith's triple crown season in 1992. Phegley is in the top five in the conference in nearly every category and is among the national leaders in batting average and RBI. He has already set an IU record for most RBI in Big Ten contests with 40 on the season, and is just two off the conference's best all-time mark, set by Illinois' Mike Klimek in 1996.
Minnesota alum Steve Farley is in his 17th season with Butler and his 20th overall as a collegiate head coach. Farley reached the 1,000-game milestone earlier this spring and has 478 career coaching victories.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
As of late, Butler has fared significantly better against the Hoosiers, taking two of the last three. When the two squads squared off last year in Bloomington, IU took a 5-0 decision on March 7. Chris McCombs pitched six strong innings and was joined in the shutout by Jason Ferrell, Doug Fleenor and Danny Rosenbaum. On the offensive side, Josh Phegley, batting in the cleanup spot, had three doubles and drove in two runs for the Hoosiers, while Keith Haas, Tyler Cox and Evan Crawford had two hits apiece.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Offensively, Joe Pauley leads the way for Butler with a .308 average, 12 home runs and 39 RBI on the season. Colin Ziegel has also been strong, batting .296 with six longballs and 29 RBI. The Bulldogs are hitting .268 as a team. The pitching has been BU's issue, as the staff has a 7.33 ERA and .344 batting average against on the year. Defensively, the Bulldogs have a .947 fielding percentage.
BASHORE COLLECTS THIRD WEEKLY HONOR
Bashore became the first IU pitcher since Bob Scafa in 1993 to garner the honor three times in a season. Bashore and Fetter are the only Big Ten players this season to be honored three times and are the first since Northwestern's Dan Brauer in 2006 to pick up three POW laurels.
Bashore was brilliant in the Hoosiers' 2-1 win over Northwestern on Saturday, allowing only three hits and one unearned run in a complete-game victory for IU. After allowing a single to the first batter of the game, Bashore ceded only a spinning infield single and a bloop down the right field line in the win. Bashore struck out five and walked two in the victory.
The only inning where the Wildcats got to Bashore was the fifth, when IU committed two errors and Bashore gave up an infield hit and a hit batsman to score a run. But with the bases loaded and two down, he struck out NU's three hitter, Jake Goebbert, to end the threat and allow only one run to cross.
Bashore also won the award on March 17, following eight innings of spectacular work against Portland, and on April 28, after a complete-game, 2-1 victory for the Hoosiers over Fetter and the Wolverines. It is the third straight week that a Hoosier has been honored, as Bashore's awards sandwiched a Player of the Week nod to centerfielder Andrew Means for his performance against Purdue. Josh Phegley's POW honor after a series against Iowa gives IU five weekly honors this season, the most since IU had five in 1993.
The Tipp City, Ohio, native has struck out a Big Ten-leading 79 men this season, the eighth-most in school history and the most for an IU hurler since 1999. He is 6-3 on the year with a 2.72 ERA, which is the third-best mark in the conference. He has posted complete-game victories in each of his last three games for IU.
Over his last three starts, Bashore is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA and three complete-game victories and 22 strikeouts in 21 innings of work.
But the Hoosiers have already quadrupled last year's total, as the quartet of home runs IU hit against Northwestern gave them 34 for the season so far. That total is the most in the Tracy Smith era and the most since the 2004 team hit 57. After failing to hit three homers in a game since 2004, IU hit three home runs twice in a span of three games with three against Purdue and Louisville.
With his recent power surge, Josh Phegley has reached double digits, as his 12 bombs are the most since Texas Ranger Kevin Mahar had 14 in 2004. Kipp Schutz now has six on the season, while Jerrud Sabourin has four. Amazingly, 29 of IU's 34 homers have come from underclassmen.
The Hoosiers have an aggregate .462 slugging percentage (third in the conference) on the season, up over 100 points from last year's .335 (last in the Big Ten). IU's 34 longballs are second in the conference.
BEHIND THE DISH
Phegley leads the team in nearly every offensive category, and is in the top five in the conference in nearly every category as well. In addition to leading the Big Ten in batting average and RBI, he is second in both slugging percentage and total bases and is third in on-base percentage, doubles, home runs, hits and sacrifice flies.
As of last Monday, he was ranked among the leaders in the nation in batting average, clocking in sixth in the country. Among catchers, only Florida State phenom Buster Posey has a higher average, and no other underclassman is as high as Phegley 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.
With his impressive batting average and improved power has come a tremendous upswing in Phegley's RBI total. He has twice had 10-plus RBI in a four-game Big Ten series, including 11 against the Boilermakers. With that, he leads all players with 40 RBI in conference contests, setting a new IU record and placing him just two behind the conference record. His 64 overall RBI place him in a tie for 10th on IU's all-time list.
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 (.530), but he also has an impressive .372 average and .538 slugging percentage with two strikes. Phegley is 8-for-18 in 1-2 counts and has hit three of his 10 home runs with two strikes. That said, Phegley has had remarkable success early in his at-bats, as he is hitting .528 with four longballs when he puts the first pitch in play and has hit a remarkable .625 with two bombs in 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..
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. Only seven other conference players have had a five-hit game.
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.
Check back soon