Hoosiers Finish Regular Season at MSU

    Go Hoosiers! Senior captain David Trager and the Hoosiers will finish off their 2008 Big Ten slate with a four-game set at Michigan State beginning Thursday.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Senior captain David Trager and the Hoosiers will finish off their 2008 Big Ten slate with a four-game set at Michigan State beginning Thursday.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 14, 2008

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    INDIANA (24-28, 11-17) AT MICHIGAN STATE (24-25, 12-14)
    Kobs Field (4,000) • East Lansing, Mich.

    Thursday, May 15 - 3:05 p.m. EDT
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    IU: RHP Eric Arnett (3-4, 5.85)
    MSU: RHP Mike Monterey (3-3, 4.72)

    Friday, May 16 - 1:05 p.m. EDT
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    IU: LHP Matt Bashore (6-3, 2.72)
    MSU: RHP Chris Cullen (5-3, 4.40)

    Friday, May 16 - 4 p.m. EDT
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    IU: TBA
    MSU: Mark Sorenson (3-6, 4.31)

    Saturday, May 17 - 1:05 p.m. EDT
    GameTracker | Live Audio

    IU: RHP Tyler Tufts (4-5, 6.13)
    MSU: TBA

    The Hoosiers enter the final weekend of the conference season needing three wins and some help to get back in the conference tournament for the first time since 2003. Indiana is two games behind sixth-place Northwestern, which plays Michigan, and also Michigan State, Indiana's opponent for the final series of the year. The Hoosiers are coming off a weekend series where they took two of four from NU to stay alive in the postseason hunt. Indiana won a wild affair in extra innings, the Hoosiers first bonus baseball of the year. The Hoosiers took a 14-12 victory in 10 innings after seeing the Wildcats rally for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extras. Tyler Rogers matched a career high with four hits in the victory, while Matt Carr came on out of the bullpen to shut down NU. The walk-on struck out Northwestern's best two hitters - Jake Goebbert and Mike Kalina - in the 10th to nail down the win for IU.

    Indiana and Michigan State have met over 150 times in the history of the two programs, with the Spartans holding an 89-66 lead in the all-time series. In each of the last two seasons the Spartans have taken three out of four from the Hoosiers, including last season in Bloomington. In the teams' last nine meetings in East Lansing, the Hoosiers have won just once, a 12-7 decision in game three of 2006.

    Last year, the Hoosiers picked up an emotional, walk-off victory in game one of the series on the strength of strong pitching by Tyler Tufts and a game-winning RBI single from Jon Fixler that scored Chris Hervey. But the Spartans rebounded to take both ends of the doubleheader and then used the momentum to propel themselves to a 6-1 victory in the finale.

    The Spartans are coming off a big weekend series win as they took two of three from Purdue in West Lafayette. It was the third traight series win for MSU, which also took series from Penn State and Iowa. In conference play, the Spartans have won eight of their last 10 contests with a pair of five game winning streaks being bookended and sandwiched by losses.

    The most impressive performance of the Purdue weekend came from Mike Monterey, who allowed just one unearned run to the Boilers in an eight-hit complete game. The Spartans have strong consistency through their rotation, with all four normal starters having an ERA in the fours. Chris Roberts is having a strong sophomore campaign with a .364 average and a .503 slugging percentage on the year.

    The Hoosiers enter the final weekend of the regular season with a realistic shot of making the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2003. IU still has ground to make up though, as it sits eighth, two games behind sixth-place Northwestern. The Hoosiers also need to leapfrog Michigan State to make it to the postseason.

    Should the Hoosiers win at least three from the Spartans and end the season tied with or ahead of Northwestern, IU would make the playoffs. As for the rest of the league, Michigan has already clinched the top seed and will host the tournament, while Purdue needs just one win from Illinois to clinch a first-round bye. Illinois and Penn State still sit in the driver's seat for a spot in the tournament, though a weak showing could find them home next weekend.

    After hitting just .269 last season, the Indiana offense has stepped it up this year as the team is hitting a collective .333, with eight regulars above .300 and six above .325. Josh Phegley, at .425, is looking to become the first Hoosier since Vasili Spanos in 2003 to top the .400 plateau. He is also seeking to become the first Hoosier since Spanos to bring home the Big Ten batting title.

    Indiana has scored at least 10 runs in 13 contests already this year after doing so just seven times a season ago. IU has scored 359 runs on the season in 52 games, over 100 more than the 2007 Hoosiers did in 54 contests.

    The Hoosiers have not topped the .300 mark as a team since hitting .315 in 2005. That year, seven players hit over .300, led by Jay Brant at .365. The school record for an IU team is .355 in 1988.

    Sophomore lefty Matt Bashore has been named Co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, the conference office announced Monday, his third Pitcher of the Week honor this season. Bashore shares the award with Michigan's Chris Fetter after spinning a gem against Northwestern in which he allowed just three hits and one unearned run.

    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.

    Indiana entered this year as a statistical non-threat to knock a ball out of the park, as the Hoosiers hit just eight home runs a year ago and returned just three longballs from last season. In fact, the Hoosiers entered the season with just eight collegiate home runs - the three returning from 2007 plus Michael Earley's five at Cincinnati last year.

    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 .464 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.

    Sophomore catcher Josh Phegley has posted one of the top seasons by a Hoosier ever, as he has emerged as a Big Ten Player of the Year and All-America candidate in his second season in Bloomington. The Terre Haute, Ind., native has already been named to the Wallace Award (top player in the nation) Watch List and the Johnny Bench Award (top catcher in the nation) Watch List this season.

    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 Monday, he was ranked among the leaders in the nation in batting average, clocking in 10th in the country. Among catchers, only Florida State phenom Buster Posey and William & Mary senior Tim Park have 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 took 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 66 overall RBI place him seventh on the school's all-time list and are the most since Mike Smith had 92 when he won college baseball's only triple crown in 1992.

    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 (.522), but he also has an impressive .380 average and .544 slugging percentage with two strikes. Phegley is 9-for-19 in 1-2 counts and has hit three of his 12 home runs with two strikes. He is, however, hitting .500 or better in 0-0, 1-0 and 2-0 counts and is just 0-for-2 with nine walks in 3-0 counts.

    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.

    With the Hoosiers down 8-0 in the first game of the Michigan series, Hoosier skipper Tracy Smith sent Tyler Rogers up to pinch-hit for David Trager with two on and two out. Rogers capitalized on his opportunity, blasting a 1-1 offering from Zach Putnam over the wall in center field for a three-run homer. Since that point, Rogers has been inserted in the starting lineup at second base every game. Over those 14 games, Rogers is hitting .381 with two home runs, two doubles and 16 RBI. On Sunday against NU, he matched a career high and set an Indiana high with his four hits in the contest.

    As the temperatures have heated up, so has the bat of freshman first baseman Jerrud Sabourin. The San Diego native has caught fire as of late, raising his average near the .400 mark as his .379 is the top mark by any conference freshman and is 13th in the league.

    Sabourin hit .529 over the weekend against Purdue, mashing a pair of homers and driving in six. That followed a weekend against Michigan where he went 10-for-15 with a double and a triple. The recent upswing has raised the freshman's conference average to .407, second on the squad.

    Sabourin first heated up in his home state, as he tore up the opposition at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic in Fresno, Calif. Sabourin hit .417 - third on the Hoosiers - and had the first five extra-base hits of his career in the Classic to post a team-leading .708 slugging percentage.

    After hitting an RBI double in the Classic opener against Gonzaga that tied the game 4-4 in the seventh, Sabourin scored a run and had a pair of walks against New Mexico State. Over the final four games of the Classic, he was 9-for-18 with five RBI and three runs scored. He capped it off with his first career homer - a shot to right center vs. Portland.

    Sabourin, who transfered to IU in the winter from Arizona, is now second on the team with his .379 batting average. Since April 11, the freshman has gone 45-for-99 (.455) to lead the team in average over that span. He also has seven doubles, two longballs, 21 RBI and a .606 slugging percentage. The freshman has heated up with the glove as well, as he sits atop the Big Ten leaderboard in putouts this season.

    Senior shortstop Tyler Cox has played all over the infield in his time with the Hoosiers, and has played at second, third, short and pitcher already this year. But recently the senior has stepped up his game and has become a crucial piece of the Hoosier lineup over the last month.

    Since the Iowa series began on April 11, Cox has a .355 average with three doubles, a home run, 10 RBI and 12 runs, mostly out of the eight and nine slots in the order. But far more important has been his improvement defensively, as the Georgetown, Ind., native has a sparkling .981 fielding percentage with just two errors on 74 assists and 30 putouts over that time. He and Tyler Rogers - who have combined to form the middle infield for the majority of that time - have committed just four errors over the last 24 contests. Cox has helped to turn 14 double plays over those 24 games, while Rogers has been a part of 10.

    Cox is not the only senior infielder who has seen tremendous improvement since the Iowa series began. David Trager was hitting well below the Mendoza line (.179) before the start of that series, but has raised his average steadily to .265 on the year. Over the last 25 games, Trager has a .308 average with nine RBI and nine runs. Additionally, the Prospect, Ky., native has an impressive .426 on-base percentage over that time and is 5-for-5 in stolen bases as well. Trager had a huge game in the finale against Purdue, posting a career-high four RBI in leading IU to a 13-1 romp.




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