Local Sports News: May 28, 2024

Indiana University Baseball Makes the NCAA Tournament and will head to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Regional
After coming just one win short of a Big Ten Tournament final, the Indiana Baseball team (32-24-1) earned an at-large bid to the 2024 NCAA Baseball Tournament. It is the 11th all-time appearance in the national tournament, the third under head coach Jeff Mercer and the second-consecutive trip for the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers were selected to the Knoxville Regional, hosted by No. 1 overall seed Tennessee. The region also features No. 2 Southern Miss and No. 4 Northern Kentucky. IU will be the No. 3 seed in the regional and meet the Golden Eagles in the first round on Friday. IU battled through a number of injuries this season including the loss of three potential weekend arms (Luke Sinnard Ben Grable and Mathhew Bohnert and one of the most talented position players on the roster (A.J. Shepard). Even without the services of those players, the Hoosiers won 32 games, 15 in the Big Ten regular season slate and advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

As of the RPI rankings on Sunday morning, IU had played 26 quad one or two games, winning 12 of those. The Hoosiers won non-conference contests against Indiana State, Dallas Baptist and Coastal Carolina. It also played games away from home against regional opponents in Duke, Alabama and Arizona. IU had a top-40 strength of schedule. Since the beginning of April, the Hoosiers went on a tear, producing both on the mound and at the plate. IU won 17 of its final 28 games. Of the 10 losses in that timeframe, seven of them came by three runs or fewer. Its offense scored 10+ runs on 12 occasions over the final two months and won six of the final seven Big Ten series.

Led by First Team All-Big Ten selection in sophomore outfielder Devin Taylor, the IU offense was as balanced and potent as any in the country. The Hoosiers finished top-10 in the nation with 134 doubles and smashed 78 home runs along the way, led by a career-best 18 from Taylor. Sophomore shortstop Tyler Cerny (23) and junior third baseman Josh Pyne (22) each finished in the top-25 in the nation in doubles. On the mound, IU found a balanced group of talented arms that helped IU turn around its season over the past two months. In 16 of the final 17 games of the season, IU held opponents to seven or fewer runs. Its staff also recorded 557 strikeouts on the season. Graduate student reliever Drew Buhr held a 3.35 earned run average across 20 appearances and 45.2 innings pitched. The Hoosier starting duo of sophomore Connor Foley (80) and graduate student Ty Bothwell (82) combined for 162 punchouts. Ticket information, for those looking to travel to the NCAA Regional, will be available this week. The NCAA Baseball Regionals will run from Friday, May 31st to Monday, June 3rd.

Josef Newgarden wins the Indy 500 for second straight year
Josef Newgarden claimed a second consecutive Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday. Newgarden narrowly defeated Pato O’Ward, passing him on the final lap of the race. On top of the prize money, he will get for winning the race, Newgarden will receive a bonus worth more than $400,000 for winning back-to-back titles. Newgarden is the first driver to win back-to-back Indy 500s since Helio Castroneves did it in 2001 and 2002. Newgarden started Sunday’s race in third place, behind his teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin. Power did not finish the race because he crashed, and McLaughlin, who started in first, placed sixth. Newgarden picked up his second Indy 500 win by fighting through a chaotic and messy race. Before drivers even lined the track, the race was delayed by about four hours while rain and lightning moved through central Indiana.

When the race finally began just before 4:45 p.m., it took only one lap for the caution flag to fly for the first time. A crash involving Tom Blomqvist and 2022 Indy 500 champion Marcus Ericsson triggered the first caution. In total, the caution flag was flown eight times. A third of the 33-driver field did not finish the race. Three drivers suffered through mechanical issues and the rest were involved in crashes or spinouts. Nine of the 11 cars that did not finish the 500 were Hondas. The only Chevrolet cars that did not cross the finish line were involved in crashes. O’Ward has now come close to winning the Indy 500 twice. In 2022, O’Ward finished second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. IndyCar officials also lifted the Indy 500 broadcast blackout in central Indiana on Sunday, allowing fans to watch the race on TV for the first time since 2021. The next event on the NTT IndyCar Series circuit is the Grand Prix of Detroit, which is slated for June 2.

Newgarden’s win also comes on the heels of some controversy surrounding Team Penske. Four key members of the team — No. 2 engineer Luke Mason, senior data engineer Robbie Atkinson, managing director Ron Ruzewski and President Tim Cindric — were suspended for the Indy 500. The quartet was suspended earlier this month for their involvement in rules violations committed at the Firestone Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Florida. Previous reporting indicates the violation the team committed pertained to a manipulation of push-to-pass systems. Newgarden crossed the finish line first at the Firestone, though he did not ultimately win the race. Newgarden was disqualified for push-to-pass manipulation. His Team Penske teammates, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power, were also penalized after the Firestone. All three Team Penske entries were fined $25,000 following the race in Florida. Newgarden, McLaughlin and Power also forfeited the prize money they won in St. Petersburg. The alleged infractions happened in March but were discovered in April before a race in California.

Camden Marshall punches his ticket to the NCAA Track and Field Championships
Camden Marshall punched his ticket to the National Championships in the 800 meters with a school-record breaking time of 1:45.48. He qualified for the quarterfinals with a First-Round time of 1:47.32. “I am very pleased by Cam’s effort and focus to advance to the National Championship, Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Ed Beathea said. “We fought hard today and anticipate the same kind of effort in the final day.” Antonio Laidler finished his season with in the 100-meter quarterfinals. He finished 25th with a time of 10.25. In the field, Grayson Rolen wrapped up his collegiate career with the Hoosiers as he finished 36th in the High Jump. Skylar Stidam finished 25th and Austin Haskett 44th in the 5,000 Meters Semifinals.

The Hoosiers closed out the weekend at the NCAA East First Round at UK’s Outdoor Track and Field Stadium with four advancing to the NCAA Championships and a school record.  “Overall, I’m really happy with the effort of the athletes we had competing,” Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Ed Beathea said. “I am excited to see us compete at the National Championships in Eugene as we have some great opportunities to earn some All-American honors.” On the final day Mahogany Jenkins was the first event of the day for the Hoosiers in the Triple Jump. She finished 19th in the event with a mark of 12.70m/41-8 in her third event. The women’s 4×400 relay including Ryann Parrish, Morgan Snow, Maddie Russin and Kenisha Phillips finished 22nd with a time of 3:38.00. The Hoosiers will travel to Eugene, Ore., for the National Outdoor Championships from June 5-8 at Hayward Field.

Bloomington North takes home Boys Track and Field Regional Title
The Bloomington North Cougars scored 153 Points Thursday Night to win their fourth straight Boys Track and Field Regional at Ralph Seiboldt Track at Bloomington North. The Cougars have won 5 regionals in the last 6 years with the 2020 regional being canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s the 17 Regional Championship in School History for the Cougars. Bloomington South finished second with 96.5 points and Edgewood tied for 11th with 17 Points.

The Bloomington Schools won 8 of 16 Individual Events. Bloomington North won the 4X 400 and 4 x 800 Meter Relays; University of Louisville Commit Jaydin Johnson won the 100- and 200-meters, Amare Draughn won the High Jump and Max Wynalda won the Shot Put. Bloomington South’s D’Andre Black won the 110- and 300-Meter Hurdles and Ryan Rheam won the 3200 Meters.  Martin Barco of Martinsville wins the 1600 Meters and sets a regional record in the 800 meters with a time of 1:52:17. Jennings County won the 4 x100 Meter Relay.  Camran Mitchell of Charlestown won the 400 Meters, Nolan Hackleman of North Putnam won the Long Jump. Nate Robertson of Mitchell won the Discus and Landon Dobbs of Henryville won the Pole Vault. 

The top three in each event advance to the State Finals next Saturday at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the Indiana University Campus. Bloomington North’s Stephon Opkou finished second in the 100 Meters, Alan Hays and Ben Boland finished second and third in the 110-meter hurdles.  Caelan D’Onfrio and Jack Holden Finished third and fourth in the 1600 Meters and Holden’s time beat the state standard to advance to the state finals. Caleb Winders finished second in the 800 Meters Jacob Mitchell finished third in the 3200 meters. Evan Cheng finished second in the Long Jump and Will Steiner finished third in the Pole Vault.  Bloomington South finished second in the 4X100 Meter Relay and third in both the 4 X 400 and the 4X 800 Meter Relays.  Gabe Taylor finished third in the 200 Meters.  Josh Tait finished 3rd in the 400 meters and Noah Liell-Beyne finished third in the 300 Meter Hurdles. Joe Zinkan finished second in the 3200 meters and Alex Shaevitz finished third in the Long Jump.

Indiana Fever get their first win of the season in Los Angeles
The Indiana Fever won, 78-73, against the Los Angeles Sparks (1-3) at Crypto.com Arena on Friday night. Indiana erased an 11-point halftime deficit in front of its sixth consecutive sellout crowd to start the 2024 regular season. After trailing, 45-34, at the half, Indiana held Los Angeles to only 11 points in the third quarter – the lowest scoring quarter by a Fever opponent this season. Indiana (1-5) outscored the Sparks in paint points (38-36), fast break points (14-4) and held Los Angeles to shooting only 5-of-24 from beyond the arc on Friday night. Former Indiana University Standout Grace Berger did not play for the fourth straight game. Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana in scoring with 15 of her 18 points in the second half to go along with two rebounds and two assists. Fever centers Aliyah Boston and Temi Fagbenle each posted 17 points and six rebounds. Boston added two assists and two steals, while Fagbenle recorded three assists to go along with her career-high scoring night. Rookie guard Caitlin Clark nearly tallied a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists as well as four steals. Clark’s two 3-pointers in the final 2:27 of regulation sealed the victory.  In the loss, Sparks forward Dearica Hamby recorded a double-double with a team-high 18 points, 12 rebounds, but was held to only two points in the second half. Rookie forward Cameron Brink trailed behind with 15 points and added nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Rookie forward Rickea Jackson came off the bench and scored 16 points to go along with two rebounds. 

The Indiana Fever came up short, 99-80, at Michelob ULTRA Arena against the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday night. Indiana led 28-24 to end the first quarter against the Aces, which was the highest scoring quarter of the year by Indiana. Saturday night was the Fever’s seventh straight game in front of a sellout crowd. Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell played her 200th regular season game with the Fever on Saturday night and ended the night as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points, two rebounds and two assists. Center Temi Fagbenle started for the Fever for the first time this season and tallied 13 points, a team-high eight rebounds and two assists. Center Aliyah Boston trailed closely behind with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.  Fever guard Lexie Hull played a season-high 18 minutes off the bench and grabbed 12 points for Indiana. Forward NaLyssa Smith and rookie guard Caitlin Clark both recorded eight points and Clark led the Fever in assists with seven.  Former IU Standout Grace Berger Played 6 minutes and hit her only three-point attempt going 1-2 from the field along with 2 rebounds and a steal. On the Aces side, forward A’ja Wilson pulled down a 29-point and season-high 15-rebound double-double, guard Jackie Young helped with 22 points, six assists and two steals, and guard Kelsey Plum tallied 20 points and seven assists. Rookie guard and former teammate of Clark from the University of Iowa, Kate Martin, came off the bench and grabbed seven rebounds and scored nine out of her 12 points in the final quarter for the Aces. The Fever return home to take on the Los Angeles Sparks tonight at 7pm and the game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Indiana and NBA TV.

The Indiana Pacers go down 3-0 to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals
The Boston Celtics used two big runs to beat the Indiana Pacers 126-110 in Game 2 on Thursday night and take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jaylen Brown, one of the heroes of Game 1, led Boston with 40 points, while Pascal Siakam paced Indiana with 28 points. Tyrese Haliburton had 10 points before leaving the game with left leg soreness in the third quarter. Myles Turner had eight points with four turnovers. The Pacers continued their great shooting from the last two games in the first quarter. T.J. McConnell’s lay-up gave Indiana a five-point lead with just over a minute to play in the quarter. Jrue Holiday made a three-pointer to cut the Celtics’ deficit to two at 27-25 at the end of the first and spark a Boston run. The Celtics then scored the first 17 points of the second quarter for a 20-0 run and a 15-point lead. Boston would lead as many as 16 in the quarter after Derrick White made three free throws after getting fouled on a three-point attempt by Andrew Nembhard. Brown scored 17 points in the second quarter and 24 total points in the first half. Indiana showed some resilience as Siakam scored the last 10 Pacers’ points of the first half to cut the Celtics’ lead to just six at halftime. Siakam stayed hot in the third quarter, hitting a three pointer to cut Boston’s lead to two at 68-66, but the Celtics went on another spurt forcing Rick Carlisle to take a timeout after an Oshae Brissett dunk made it 82-71. Boston led 93-80 after three. The Celtics went up 18 on a Brown basket before the Pacers began to empty their bench.

The Boston Celtics rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 114-111 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday night. Boston now has a commanding 3-0 series lead. Pacers’ All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton sat out the game after injuring his left hamstring in Thursday night’s Game 2 loss. Indiana led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but the Celtics went one of their massive runs that has been a hallmark of the series. They got within two points late, then took the lead on a Jrue Holiday three-point play with 38 seconds to play. The Pacers had an opportunity to answer down one, but Andrew Nembhard lost the ball to Holiday, who made two free throws to extend the lead to three points. They had one last chance, but Aaron Nesmith’s three-pointer at the buzzer was no good. Jayson Tatum led Boston with 36 points, while Jaylen Brown scored 24 and Al Horford added 23. Nembhard had a career-night for Indiana, leading the way with 32 points and nine assists. T.J. McConnell had a strong effort off the bench with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner both scored 22 points. The Celtics started strong, taking a nine-point lead on a Horford three-pointer midway through the first quarter. The Pacers responded behind 11 points in the first from Siakam to only trail by one entering the second quarter. Indiana quickly took the lead on a Turner dunk, then built their own nine-point advantage on a Nembhard three-pointer. The lead grew to 18 on another Nembhard three. Boston was cut the deficit to 12 at halftime. The Pacers lead ballooned back to 18 in the third quarter on a McConnell jumper, but that’s when the Celtics slowly began to chip away at Indiana’s lead. They had the deficit cut to nine at the end of three and to five just two and half minutes into the final quarter.

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