By Chris Feeny • @iubase17 • Feb 13
Indiana Hoosiers at Memphis Tigers
Fed Ex Park
Memphis, TN 38111
Fire up the John Fogerty, it’s almost time for Opening Day. The last time Hoosier Baseball played a game that meant anything was back on June 3rd, 2018, in Austin, Texas. They played two games that day. After knocking Texas A&M out of the NCAA Tournament, it was a heart breaker of a loss to Texas in the nightcap to end the 2018 campaign.
It all starts to count again on Friday at Fed Ex Park against the Memphis Tigers out of the American Conference. It certainly will feel like a new start considering it will be Game 1 of The Jeff Mercer Era of Hoosier Baseball.
Memphis finished last in the American Athletic Conference in 2018. By a lot. Five games behind the next closest team. They finished with a 5-19 AAC record and went 20-36 overall.
After winning the 2018 home opening series against Western Kentucky, the Tigers only finished 12-19 at Fed Ex Field. Winning only 2 of their last 10 at home. Outside expectations are very low for the Tigers again this year. D1 Baseball, Baseball America, and the coaches of the American Athletic Conference all have Memphis projected to finish last in the AAC this season.
Despite the outside naysayers, 16 year Memphis head coach Daron Schoenrock still has his guys dreaming about an appearance in Omaha.If they do get to Omaha, it will start by successfully replacing last season’s Friday starter and closer. Both were selected in June’s MLB Draft.
The Daily Helmsman reports that Seniors Hunter Smith and Alex Hicks will pitch Friday and Saturday, respectively. Sunday appears to still be up in the air. Last season, in 64 innings, Smith pitched to a 3.08 ERA and a .250 AVG. Hicks threw to a 6.44 ERA in his 57 innings.
The Tigers plan to be led offensively by three upperclassman infielders: Alec Trela, Cale Hennemann, and Kyle Ouelette. They drove in about a third of the Tigers total runs last season and return to starting roles for 2019.
Similar to the Hoosiers, Memphis has a new Director of Player Development. He is also a former World Series winning Cardinal. Jason Motte will certainly bring a spark to this Tigers team. On paper though, the Tigers just don’t appear to have the talent to hang with Indiana on the field. Opening Day does bring hope and some extra adrenaline, but that will be true for both squads. This needs to be treated as another ‘Business Trip’ to the south and result in a series win at the very least.
Tigers to watch for
• Junior SS #29 Alec Trela – lead team in HR (7) and RBI (39) last season
• Senior 3B #1 Cale Hennemann – led team with .299 AVG
• Senior 1B #10 Kyle Oulette – 2nd in HR (3) and RBI (31)
Schedule /Pitching Matchups (updated when available)
Friday 5pm EST
Hunter Smith vs Pauly Milto
Saturday 3pm EST
Alex Hicks vs Tanner Gordon
Sunday 2pm EST
TBA vs Tommy Sommer
On The Air
Memphis is providing a video broadcast for the series at the Memphis Tiger Network
Audio Play by Play will also be provided by Memphis. No word yet if Indiana University will provide any. You can listen to the entire 3 game series on WMUR 97.1 via Tunein.com or via the Tune In App.
Team Rosters/Team Stats
Jeff Mercer from Wednesday’s Media availability
Scotty Bradley from Wednesday’s media availability