Hoosiers Continue Ascent in 2008 Campaign
July 2, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The 2008 Indiana baseball season was a campaign to remember. While playing one of the toughest schedules in school history, the Hoosiers posted their first winning record since 2003, including wins over College World Series participant LSU and National Champion Fresno State.
Overall, the Hoosiers played 10 games against teams ranked in the top 25 of the American Baseball Coaches Association poll, going 4-6 against those squads. The Hoosiers thrived against top competition, as they were the only team in the Big Ten to defeat regular season and tournament champion Michigan more than once and the only team to win a conference series against regular season runner-up Purdue. Overall, the Hoosiers won at least two games against six of their nine Big Ten opponents.
The up-and-coming Hoosiers were the surprise team of the Big Ten in 2008, rallying over the last four weekends of conference play to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2003. IU sat in last place, at 4-12 in the conference, with four weekends to play and the top two teams in the Big Ten scheduled to come to Bloomington. The Hoosiers then rallied to finish 11-5 in the conference over their final 16 games, finishing off the regular season with a sweep at Michigan State, the first sweep for an IU team since 1999.
Once in the Tournament, the Hoosiers continued to make noise, dropping the first game of the weekend, but rallying to knock off Ohio State, Illinois and Penn State in elimination games. The victory over Penn State was the most dramatic of the three, as senior shortstop Tyler Cox smashed a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to rally IU to a 12-9 win. The homer worked its way onto SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays that night, clocking in at No. 2 on the list.
Individually, Josh Phegley posted one of the top years in IU history in the process. The sophomore catcher was named a second team All-American by both the coaches and the writers, as he led the Big Ten with a .438 average and 80 RBI on the season. The unanimous first team All-Big Ten selection finished second in the nation in batting average and the Hoosiers, who hit .339 as a team, were sixth in the country after hitting just .269 in 2007.
Also picking up conference honors were junior centerfielder Andrew Means and sophomore pitcher Matt Bashore. Both were named first team All-Big Ten, while Bashore picked up All-Region honors from the American Baseball Coaches Association. The youthful Hoosiers also got a huge contribution from freshman first baseman Jerrud Sabourin, who was named a Freshman All-American by the National College Baseball Writers Association. Following the season, juniors Means and Tyler Tufts were both selected in the 2008 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, the first Hoosier teammates to be selected since 2004.
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