- The Indiana baseball team is set to make its second straight trip to the Big Ten Conference Baseball Tournament in Minneapolis, Minn., this week. The 23rd annual event is being played at Siebert Field, the home site of the league's regular season champion Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The sixth-seeded Hoosiers open play against third-seeded Michigan on Wednesday, May 21, at 3:35 p.m. No. 4 Penn State and No. 5 Northwestern will meet just before IU and UM at 12:05 p.m. The top-seeded Gophers and second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes both received first-round byes.
The meeting between the Hoosiers and Wolverines will mark the first of the season as they two teams did not meet during the regular conference slate. It will also be the first time the two teams have faced each other in a Big Ten Tournament game.
If Indiana wins game one against Michigan, it would meet Minnesota on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. If the Hoosiers lose to the Wolverines, they would play the loser of the Northwestern-Penn State game on Thursday at 12:05 p.m.
Live updates will be available on the Big Ten Conference web site at www.bigten.org and on the official site of Minnesota Athletics, www.gophersports.com for all games throughout the Big Ten Tournament.
Indiana Update (32-20 Overall, 16-15 in the Big Ten)
Indiana enters the Conference Tournament with a 32-20 record overall. The Hoosiers closed out the Big Ten regular season with a 16-15 record. Although they are just a half game out of third place, IU comes into the tournament as the No. 6 seed.
The Hoosiers are coming off a three-game set with Northwestern in Bloomington over the weekend. IU shut out NU in game one, 7-0. Saturday's doubleheader was rained out and on Sunday, the Hoosiers downed the Wildcats, 11-9, before falling, 5-3 in the finale.
Senior third baseman Vasili Spanos paces the Hoosiers offensively. Spanos finished the regular season as the League leader with a .434 batting average in Big Ten contests and tied for the lead with eight home runs. Spanos also sports the highest batting average of any Big Ten hitter as well with a .400 clip overall. Sophomore second baseman Corby Heckman follows Spanos with a .372 batting average, 14 doubles and 43 runs scored. Senior designated hitter Nick Evans ranks third on the squad with a .326 batting average and second with 39 RBI. His 26 RBI in Big Ten games tied for the team lead and rank tied for third in the League. The Hoosiers hit .284 as a team and have outscored their opponents 333-272 on the season.
On the mound, the IU pitching staff sports a 5.03 overall ERA. Senior RHP Jacob Cary leads the team with 10 decisions, including six complete games, and a 7-3 record. He has pitched 76.0 innings and has a 5.33 ERA. Junior LHP Chris Behrens owns a 5-3 record, including a pair of shutouts, and a 4.03 ERA in 58.0 innings of work. His 12 starts are tied for the team lead with Cary. Freshman RHP Josh Lewis is 4-2 with a 5.16 ERA. Lewis has pitched a total of 52.1 innings and started eight games during Big Ten play.
Hoosiers' History in the Big Ten Tournament
The Hoosiers are making their second straight appearance in the Big Ten Conference Baseball Tournament and their fifth overall. In addition to IU's trip to the event in 2002, the Hoosiers advanced to the tournament in 1991 and 1993 and won the title in 1996. Indiana's all-time Big Ten Tournament record stands at 5-7.
Last season, Indiana defeated Iowa, 7-4, in its opening round game. The Hooisers fell to Ohio State in a 10-inning, 11-10 heartbreaker and were finally eliminated by Michigan State, 14-1.
In 1996, Indiana entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed. After defeating Illinois in its first game, 6-3, the Hoosiers knocked off host Penn State, 6-2. Illinois handed IU its only loss of the tournament, 8-5, in the third game but the Hoosiers bounced back to top the Illlini, 6-4, in the championship game.
INDIANA IN THE BIG TEN TOURNEY
Opponent, IU Record
Ohio State 0-3
Michigan State 0-1
Penn State 1-0
Scouting the Opponent: Michigan (29-25, 16-14)
No. 3 Michigan enters the Big Ten Tournament with a 29-25 overall and 16-14 in the Conference. This past weekend Michigan faced Purdue in a four-game series. The Wolverines captured the first game, 3-2, but fell to the Boilermakers in the final three games, 8-6, 7-4 and 7-2, in West Lafayette.
Michigan ranks third in the Big Ten with .306 team batting average and paces the league with 51 home runs. In league contests, the Wolverines ranked fifth in team batting with .293 average.
Senior Brock Koman ranks eighth in the league and leads Michigan at the plate, batting .364. Koman's team-best 76 hits is third among Big Ten players. Brock is also tied with junior Jake Fox and senior Mike Sokol for doubles with 19. Fox is second on the club and ninth in the Big Ten with a .362 batting average. He also leads the team and the Conference in home runs with 14.
Sophomore Phil Tognetti ranks eighth in the Big Ten for individual pitching. Tognetti has logged 61.1 innings for the Wolverines and is currently 6-4 on the season with a 3.67 ERA. In Big Ten play Tognetti is 4-3 with a 3.35 ERA, eighth among Big Ten opponents.
Sophomore Drew Taylor has pitched 86.1 innings for Michigan and claims an 8-1 record this season. Taylor has started in 13 games for the Wolverines while appearing in 15. He is third among the Wolverines pitchers in strikeouts with 43, behind junior Bobby Garza and sophomore Michael Penn who have each collected 50 this season. Taylor is 5-1 in Big Ten contests with a 3.28 ERA, seventh in the league.
The Hoosiers and the Wolverines will meet for the first time ever in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday. Though the two teams have played 167 times in series history, the have not met during the regular season for the last two years.
Michigan ows a 112-55 advantage over Indiana. The first time these two ball clubs met was in 1896 when Indiana defeated Michigan 11-10.
The last time Indiana and Michigan played was in 2001 at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines swept the four-game series as the Hoosiers fell, 6-2, 11-7, 3-6 and 2-3 (10 innings).
Hoosiers Versus The Tourney Field
During the regular season, IU compiled a 7-8 record against the Big Ten Tournament field. Here's a look at the results:
Opponent, IU Record Game Results
vs. Minnesota, 1-3 (G1: L, 5-3; G2: L, 5-1; G3: W, 2-0; G4: L, 10-2)
at Ohio State, 2-2 (G1: L, 9-3; G2: L, 13-12; G3: W, 13-2; G4: W, 6-3)
at Penn State, 2-2 (G1: L, 15-12; G2: W, 13-9; G3: W, 8-4; G4: L, 7-3)
vs. Northwestern, 2-1 (G1: 7-0; G2: W, 11-9; G3: L, 5-3)
Spanos Pacing the Pack
Senior third baseman Vasili Spanos has been the Big Ten Conference's most prolific offensive player this season. Spanos closed the regular season as the Big Ten leader in batting average (.434), on-base percentage (.525), slugging percentage (.778) and tied for first with 31 runs scored and eight home runs. His batting average was more than 40 points higher than the league's second-leading hitter. It is also the highest average by a Big Ten player since Penn State's Mike Campo hit .443 in 2000.
The River Forest, Ill., product also became the first Hoosier to lead the Big Ten in batting average and home runs since Mike Smith won the triple crown with the highest batting average, most RBI and home runs. (Smith also won the NCAA triple crown that season.)
Spanos is also the League leader in batting average (.400), slugging percentage (.706) and on-base percentage in all games (.505).
Keep Your Eye on Evans
Senior designated hitter Nick Evans has had the hot bat for the Hoosiers recently. Evans is the Hoosiers' third-leading hitter with a .326 average in all games and a .348 clip in Big Ten contests. Evans' 26 RBI in Big Ten games are tied for the third-most of any player in the league.
On May 11-12 against Purdue, Evans paced the Hoosiers with nine RBI and six runs scored. In the Hoosiers' last 11 games, the Findlay, Ohio, product, has hit .387, belted three home runs and collected 16 RBI. Evans sports a .384 average with runners on base and is hitting .396 with two outs.
Indiana earned a split in five of its eight Big Ten Conference series this season. IU went 2-2 at Illinois, against Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Penn State and at home versus Purdue. The Hoosiers took three of four games on the road at Iowa and picked up only one victory in four tries against league-leader Minnesota in Bloomington. Against Northwestern during the final weekend of play, IU went 2-1, as one game was rained out.
On The Defensive
The Indiana defense sports a .963 fielding percentage to this point in the season, a mark that ranks among the best in school history. The 2003 team's percentage is the highest since the 2000 club finished at .964. Here's a look at the best defensive teams in Hoosier history (records kept since 1945):
RANK FIELDING PERCENTAGE SEASON
1) .967 1998
2) .966 1984
3) .965 1990
4) .964 2000
5) .963 2003
Senior outfielder Kenny Marrs has been hit by a pitch 11 times this season, a mark that ranks third on the Indiana single season charts. Five of those bean balls came in league play, which is ties him for the fourth-most in a Conference season at IU. Vasili Spanos has also been hit by five pitches in league play this season.
Heckman Garners Player-of-the-Week Honors
Corby Heckman was named Co-Big Ten Baseball Player of the Week for the period of April 29 to May 4. Heckman shared the honor with Penn State second baseman Mike DeRenzo after the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions split four games over the weekend.
Heckman, a native of Spencer, Ind. and a graduate of Owen Valley High School, led the Hoosiers with a .500 batting average, eight hits and nine RBI in four games last week. The sophomore hit three of Indiana's 13 home runs, had a pair of doubles and scored six runs on the weekend. He nearly hit for the cycle with a single, a double and a homer in IU's 8-4 victory on Saturday. In addition, he had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 14 chances and boasted an impressive 1.188 slugging percentage.
The Need for Speed
Coach Bob Morgan saw the Hoosiers' team speed as one of its strong suits prior to the season and they have certainly come through in the stolen base department. In 50 games, IU has stolen 73 bases in 85 attempts, a success rate of 86 percent. The Hoosiers have exceeded last season's stolen bases total (62) as well. Mark Calkins (11-for-12), Kenny Marrs (11-for-12) and Kevin Mahar (10-for-12) lead the Hoosiers in swipes this season.
With several injuries to its pitching staff, Indiana has several freshmen who have seen significant action the mound this season. Six rookies, including four true freshmen and two redshirts, have combined to pitch a total of 177.1 innings for IU. That's 42 percent of the Hoosiers' 422.1 total innings this season.
Josh Lewis (4-2) leads the freshmen class with 52.1 innings pitched, 11 starts and two complete games. Redshirt Austin Rhoads has worked 46.1 innings and leads the team with a 3.50 ERA. Chris Hynes, who catches for the Hoosiers, has stepped up to help out in relief as well. Hynes has appeared in relief 15 times and has a 2-2 record. Troy Ragle has started five games and is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA, which is third-best on the team. Redshirt Dan Pezley and Derek Hibbs have both pitched 10.1 innings for Indiana.