Saturday, May 23, 2009

Big Ten Champs!

If you didn't know about the IU baseball team before this weekend, you should be well aware of them now.

The Hoosiers thumped Minnesota 13-2 Saturday to win the Big Ten championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. As the No. 3 seed, the Hoosiers had to win four games in four days, beating No. 1 seed Ohio State and No. 2 seed Minnesota twice after knocking off No. 6 seed Purdue.

IU outscored opponents 47-9 over the four games. It was a phenomenal offensive explosion. They scored at least 9, 12, 13, and 13 runs over the four-game stretch, respectively. Pitching also was impressive, allowing 1, 3, 3, and 3 runs respectively.

The NCAA tournament begins May 29. If the offensive explosion continues, you have to think IU could scare a lot of teams. And with two outstanding pitchers in Eric Arnett and Matt Bashore it is not unrealistic to expect a good showing.

The win is the second ever Big Ten title for IU, the other coming in 1996. As an IU fan, I have to say this win is satisfying, given all our suffering during the football and basketball seasons. It may not be the most popular sport on campus, but hopefully, IU baseball is gaining some fans tonight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The best-kept secret on the Bloomington campus

A sport other than football or basketball is yearning for attention from IU fans.

The IU baseball team is the third seed in the Big Ten tournament beginning Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. While the overall record was not stellar, 28-25, the conference record was an impressive 16-7. The Hoosiers had won six in a row before losing the final game of the year yesterday to Michigan State.

The team batted .322 as a team this year, while opponents batted .289. Junior Pitcher Eric Arnett has been impressive, compiling an 11-1 record and 2.89 ERA in 12 appearances. He has 93 strike-outs in 94 innings pitched.

In Big Ten play, the entire IU pitching staff has been impressive. Arnett has a 7-0 record and 2.89 ERA. Pitcher Matt Bashore is 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA in conference play, despite an overall record of 6-4 and a 3.87 ERA. Four IU pitchers have ERAs under 4 in Big Ten games.

The Hoosiers will open the Big Ten tournament against Purdue, the sixth seed in the double-elimination event. A win means a game against No. 2-seed Minnesota. All the games should be on Big Ten Network.

Last year, the team made a Cinderella run to the Big Ten semi-finals before losing to Purdue.

This program is on the rise and deserves a little more attention from the fans. IU baseball suffers from a season that begins in the winter, overlaps with basketball and ends after the students depart for summer vacation. The team plays in relative obscurity in a facility across the street from McNutt Quad.

A Big Ten title and NCAA tournament berth would be impressive for a team that has to leave town the first two months of the season to play games. Two of the Hoosiers' first 18 games were in Bloomington.

Here is a blog with game-by-game coverage of IU baseball.