Hoosiers Open NCAA Tournament in Louisville Regional

    Go Hoosiers! Kipp Schutz and the Hoosiers will take on Louisville on Friday night in IU's first NCAA contest since 1996.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Kipp Schutz and the Hoosiers will take on Louisville on Friday night in IU's first NCAA contest since 1996.
    Go Hoosiers!

    May 29, 2009

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    Indiana at NCAA Regional
    Louisville, Ky. • Jim Patterson Stadium

    5/29 - #2 Middle Tennessee State vs. Vanderbilt - 3 p.m.
    5/29 - #1 Louisville vs. #4 Indiana - 7 p.m.
    GameTracker | Live Audio | Watch (UofLsports video feed)

    5/30 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 3 p.m.
    5/30 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 7 p.m.
    5/31 - Game 5 - 3 p.m.
    5/31 - Game 6 - 7 p.m.
    6/1 - Game 7 (if necessary) - 7 p.m.

    RELATED LINKS: Purchase Tickets | Parking and Traffic Information | In the Dugout With Tracy Smith | Louisville Regional Central

    Indiana (32-25) earned the fourth seed in the Louisville Regional of the NCAA Tournament after garnering an automatic bid to the NCAAs. IU is joined by host and No. 1 seed Louisville (44-15), No. 2 seed Middle Tennessee State (43-16) and No. 3 seed Vanderbilt (34-25). IU takes on Louisville in the opening round on Friday at 7 p.m., while MTSU and Vanderbilt will do battle at 3 p.m. on Friday.

    The Hoosiers steamrolled their way through the Big Ten Tournament with four straight wins, dominating the competition to the tune of an aggregate score of 47-9. IU won its opener against No. 6 seed Purdue 9-1 thanks to a sterling performance by Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Year Eric Arnett to earn a spot against Minnesota in the second round. Matt Bashore's dominance led IU past the second-seeded Gophers in a 12-3 victory, and IU moved on to the third round against No. 1 seed Ohio State. The red-hot Hoosier bats and a solid performance from Blake Monar left no doubt of the outcome in a 13-3 romp over the Buckeyes to earn a spot in the championship game. There, IU took on Minnesota, and a strong start by Matt Igel combined with 18 hits offensively to lead IU to a 13-2 triumph to win its first conference title in 13 years. Bashore was named the Tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

    Indiana returns to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996, when it went to the NCAA Midwest Regional. There, IU fell in the opening round to Wichita State (4-0), but rebounded with a win over Delaware (10-8) in its second game. The Hoosiers took on Rice in their second straight elimination game, and the Owls used a four-run eighth to come from behind in an 11-8 victory. Steve Smella led all Hoosiers with a .417 average as he smacked four doubles in the three games. On the mound, Brian Partenheimer got IU's win over Delaware, but Dan Ferrell pitched the best game by striking out eight in eight innings against eventual regional champ Wichita State.

    Indiana is in its fourth year under the direction of Tracy Smith. In his time at the helm of the Hoosiers, IU is 104-126. Smith is now 420-344-1 (.550) in his 13th season as a head coach. With a 6-1 win over Michigan State on May 15, Smith became the sixth coach in Indiana baseball history to win 100 games at the school. With a 16-7 conference record, Indiana posted its top Big Ten winning percentage (.696) since going 7-3 in 1939. He led the Hoosiers to their second Big Ten Tournament title in school history, joining the 1996 squad as the only two teams to have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He was also an assistant coach for the 1996 Hoosiers.

    With a 13-2 victory over Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament final, Indiana earned the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. It is IU's first trip to the NCAAs since the 1996 season, when the Hoosiers went to the Midwest Regional. Indiana lost to Wichita State in the opening round, 4-0, but rebounded to defeat Delaware in its second game, 10-8. Rice ended the Hoosiers' postseason run with an 11-8 victory.

    Indiana's run through the Big Ten Tournament was a historic one, as IU utterly dominated the competition. Going 4-0 in the tourney, the Hoosiers outscored their opponents by an aggregate total of 47-9. Here are some other notes about the staggering numbers put up by Indiana in the tourney:

    • Indiana's 47 runs were one off the tournament record, set by Ohio State in five games in 2003.
    • IU became the first team in tournament history to hit over ,400, posting an average of .414
    • The Hoosiers' 16 doubles broke Ohio State's record (2004) despite the Hoosiers playing two fewer games than OSU did that year.
    • The Hoosiers matched the record for hits allowed per inning (.67), surrendering just 24 hits in 36 innings.
    • IU tallied at least 15 hits in every game and surrendered seven or fewer in all four contests.
    • Every player that played in more than one game had at least five hits, was on base at least seven times and scored at least two runs.
    • Only one player (Chris Hervey) who had an official at-bat did not hit a double, but he hit one of Indiana's two home runs.
    • Five Hoosiers (Alex Dickerson, Jake Dunning, Tyler Rogers, Kipp Schutz, Brian Lambert) hit over .400 for the tourney, with three (Dickerson, Dunning, Rogers) hitting at .500 or better.
    • Indiana's starting pitching was masterful, with the four starters posting a collective ERA of 1.40 and surrendering a .170 batting average against.

    Even though the Hoosiers have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1996, their destination for the postseason tourney is certainly a familiar place. This will be IU baseball's fourth trip to Jim Patterson Stadium in the last three years, as Indiana has played two midweek games against the Cardinals in each of the last three seasons. Three of the contests have been played in Louisville and three have taken place at Sembower Field.

    U of L has taken five of the six meetings over those three seasons, but the Hoosiers have not been without their opportunities. IU lost a come-from-behind 5-4 game in Louisville last season and a 10-8 contest where a ninth inning home run sank the Hoosiers this year. IU's lone win over the Cardinals came at Patterson Stadium in 2007.

    Indiana has not faced Middle Tennessee State since 2000, when the teams split two games in Murfreesboro. IU has not taken on Vandy since 1998.

    Indiana filled up its trophy case quite a bit this weekend in Columbus. In addition to taking home the Big Ten Tournament trophy, IU brought home a pair of individual honors as Eric Arnett was the conference's co-Pitcher of the Year and Alex Dickerson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Each was the first player in school history to win their respective awards.

    The two were far from alone, though, as IU totaled seven All-Big Ten honorees and two members of the All-Freshman Team. Arnett, outfielder Kipp Schutz and catcher Josh Phegley were all named first team All-Big Ten, marking the second straight year that IU has had three first team selections. Dickerson, pitcher Matt Bashore and first baseman Jerrud Sabourin were second team selections, while reliever Chris Squires earned third team honors. Dickerson and pitcher Blake Monar were named to the All-Freshman Team.

    As for the All-Tournament team, Indiana was well represented there as well, with Bashore taking Most Outstanding Player honors. IU had six selections on the all-tourney squad, a school record. With 10 players selected All-Tournament over the last two years, Indiana has more than doubled its all-time honorees at the conference tournament (18 in school history).

    Junior Eric Arnett has emerged as one of the top arms in the Big Ten and the nation in 2009. The junior was recently named one of five finalists for the College Baseball Foundation's National Pitcher of the Year Award and was recently named one of 30 semifinalists for USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award. He was also named the Big Ten's co-Pitcher of the Year prior to the conference tourney.

    Arnett's first appearance after winning the award was a dominant one, as he shut down arch-rival Purdue in the opening round of the tourney. The big righty allowed just four hits and one walk in seven shutout innings, striking out 10. He moved to 12-1 on the season with a 2.58 ERA and 103 strikeouts.

    The Pataskala, Ohio, native has put together one of the best seasons of any pitcher in school history. His 12 wins are tied for the school record and his 103 Ks are just six shy of Indiana's all-time mark (Vernon Wilshere, 1934). His 2.58 ERA is the lowest by an IU starter since Bob Scafa (2.15) in 1993.

    Arnett did not have a typical offseason, as he tried out for the basketball team and earned a roster spot. He served as a key post player during practice for the first 2 1/2 months of the season. Due to scholarship limitations, he could not play in a game, but practiced with the team until early January.

    Part of the pleasure of Indiana's Big Ten Tournament run was the lopsidedness of the games, as that was a far cry from the Hoosiers' performance in the Big Ten regular season. Indiana posted a 16-7 record in Big Ten play, but it certainly was not due to the ability to dominate opponents. In fact, only six of IU's 23 conference games were decided by five runs or more, while 10 were decided by two runs or fewer.

    But Indiana's success in those close games is one of the big reasons that the Hoosiers posted a .696 winning percentage in conference. IU went 6-1 in one-run games and 8-2 in contests decided by two runs or fewer. And at the center of that was Eric Arnett, who posted a masterful 5-0 record in one-run games, four of which saw him throw complete games for the Hoosiers.

    After a slow start to the 2009 season, preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Matt Bashore has rebounded since the beginning of conference play. The Tipp City, Ohio, native is 7-1 with a 1.99 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings pitched since IU returned from its Spring Trip. He led the Big Ten in conference ERA and was a second-team All-Big Ten selection, the second straight year he has picked up all-conference honors.

    Prior to the beginning of conference play, Bashore had a 7.24 ERA and the Hoosiers were 0-6 in his starts. He had been allowing the opposition to post a .331 average against him and was walking opposing batsmen at a rate of 4.3 per nine innings.

    Bashore has been magnificent over the last three games, and his performance against Minnesota earned him Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. The lefty flummoxed one of the top offensive teams in the conference to the tune of seven shutout innings, surrendering two hits and two walks in the process. He struck out nine as well.

    When adding that outing to his final two conference contests, Bashore has gone 3-0, surrendering just 16 hits and two runs over 23 innings for a 0.78 ERA over that time. He has also punched out 29 batters to just one walk. Only one of the 16 hits he has allowed has gone for extra bases, and he has also given up just one wild pitch.

    We have all heard the old adage that "pitching and defense wins championships." And while that sounds like a line out of the coach's cliché handbook, it has certainly shown it has some truth when you look at the Hoosiers in 2009. Indiana's vaunted offense was strong in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but it was the pitching and defense that carried Indiana to a third-place finish in the Big Ten.

    Pitching was certainly the Hoosiers' strong point in Big Ten affairs, as IU led all Big Ten teams with a 3.79 ERA, over half a run better than second-place Michigan State's 4.34. The principal reason for IU's dominance in conference pitching has been that its top two starters - Matt Bashore (2.36) and Eric Arnett (2.90) - finished one and two in the Big Ten in ERA among starters when looking at conference games.

    The defensive improvement was also key, as IU posted a .967 fielding percentage in conference but just a .953 mark in non-conference affairs.

    Indiana's late season surge did not begin in the Big Ten Tournament, though it certainly culminated with that event. The Hoosiers sat at 22-24 overall heading into a three-game set against Northwestern on May 8, and since that point IU has won 10 of its last 11 games.

    In that span it has been both the offense and the pitching that have carried the Hoosiers. IU's bats have hit at a .345 clip with 13 home runs, a .515 slugging percentage and 91 runs scored (an average of 8.3 per game). On the mound, Indiana has posted a 2.34 ERA as a team and has surrendered an opponents' batting average of just .217. IU has also struck out 88 batters in its 100.0 innings of work. Of pitchers who have thrown at least three innings, the highest ERA is Blake Monar's 3.77, and five hurlers have an ERA of 2.00 or lower.




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