Hoosiers Host Final Games of Season
May 18, 2007
SETTING THE SCENE
LAST TIME OUT
After the Hoosiers left men on second and third with one out in the top of the first, the Fighting Illini made them pay in the bottom half of the inning. Right-hander Eric Arnett (2-2) retired the first two batters he faced before Illinois loaded the bases for shortstop Shawn Roof, who was hit by the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0. Second baseman Ryan Hastings then delivered a two-run single into right field to give the Illini a three-run cushion.
Indiana found its way into the scoring column in the third. As he did in the opening frame, junior designated hitter Jon Fixler stepped to the plate with two men in scoring position. This time he came through with a two-out, two-run base hit over the head of Hastings to cut the U of I lead to 3-2. After the Illini's first, Arnett surrendered just one hit until the home half of the fifth. Illinois chased him from the game in the inning after netting three unearned runs to extend its advantage to 6-2. The Fighting Illini tacked on one more run in the seventh for the final margin.
Tuesday's game against Valparaiso was canceled due to inclement weather. The game will not be made up. Indiana finished its non-conference slate 11-12 for the season.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS
The Gopher offense is hitting .311 as a unit, with Mike Mee leading the way with his .415 average. Dan Lyons has led the power unit with eight home runs and Nate Hanson is just behind with seven. Matt Nohelty is 20-for-24 on the basepaths on the year. Minnesota has a 4.65 ERA in conference play, compared to a 4.21 average in all games. Dustin Brabender leads the starters with a 4.55 ERA in his 57 1/3 innings of work.
THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS
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
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 32 RBIs.
MAKING IT BIG
Mahar, who went 0-for-4 in his major league debut, joins Colorado Rockies hurler Zach McClellan as former Indiana baseball players currently in the majors. Mahar has posted a .278 average and four home runs this season at Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma. In 11 games with the RedHawks over the last couple of weeks, Mahar posted a .349 average with one home run, five RBIs and 10 runs. In 2006, Mahar hit .267 with 20 longballs and 82 RBIs for Frisco.
In three years for the Hoosiers, Mahar posted a .323 average and drilled 17 homers. His final season, 2004, was by far his finest, as he clubbed 14 home runs, drove in 52 and hit .359. Mahar's .652 slugging percentage led the team and he also stole eight bases. Mahar was named second team All-Big Ten and following the season he signed with the Ranger organization.
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. He earned his first career victory with a scoreless inning of relief against St. Louis on May 7.
McClellan, who was called up from AAA Colorado Springs to replace Byung-Hyun Kim, has made 12 appearances on the season, throwing 14.0 innings and posting a 5.79 ERA. He has struck out 13 and allowed 20 hits and five 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.
BIG TEN LEADERBOARD
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.
MILESTONE FOR SMITH
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