UMSL BASEBALL – GAMEDAY PREVIEW
UMSL Tritons (14-16) vs. McKendree Bearcats (11-25)
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 – 3 pm – Hypes Field
LEBANON, ILL. — With a huge four-game series coming up this weekend against Great Lakes Valley Conference rival Quincy University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis men’s baseball team will play a pretty intriguing tune-up game on Wednesday, against nearby McKendree University at that campus’ Hypes Field.
What makes this matchup so intriguing is that beginning in the fall, McKendree will be joining the GLVC as its 17th member, and will begin competing against UMSL and all the other teams in the league every year in every sport.
The Bearcats, as the McKendree sports teams are known, have a long history of success in virtually every sport, including the big three — football, basketball, and baseball — which have all enjoyed nationally competitive seasons, and as recently as 2010, were all ranked among the best teams in the nation at the NAIA level.
Current McKendree head coach Jim Boehne is in his 14th year as leader of the Bearcat baseball program, and has had a distinguished career.
During his tenure, the Bearcats have totaled 495 victories, while winning eight American Midwest Conference Tournament championships, and five AMC regular-season titles, with an incredible nine trips to the NAIA Regionals.
But this season though, has been a difficult one for the Bearcats, who began the year by losing 9 of the first 11 games back in February, then had another 10-game losing streak in March.
For the season, McKendree is 11-25, after recently winning three of four games, before suffering a gut-wrenching 12-11 loss at Missouri Baptist on Tuesday.
The Bearcats led that game 11-7 going into the bottom of the ninth, before Mo Bap scored five times in its final at-bat to win the game.
The No. 1 problem this season for the Bearcats has been their pitching, which had a whopping 7.79 ERA — McKendree’s worst staff ERA during Boehne’s tenure as coach — going into yesterday’s contest, and after giving up 12 runs, that ERA will only go up.
In fact, in this final transitional year before the program officially joins the NCAA next season, the Bearcats’ pitching, which has faced a mixed schedule of both NAIA and NCAA Division II teams, has been just atrocious.
Even just a quick glance at the Bearcats’ stats show the club has given up nearly 300 runs and allowed more than 370 hits in just over 250 innings of play this season.
And a bunch of those hits have been of the extra-base variety, with the Bearcats giving up 62 doubles, 10 triples, and 26 home runs in only 36 games this year.
Offensively, McKendree is hitting a respectable .278 as a team, and has four regular players and two top reserves that are hitting over .300.
The top performer for the Bearcats has been leadoff hitter Brandyn Snider, who sparks that lineup with a .325 batting average, a .518 slugging percentage, and four homers and 27 RBIs.
Power-hitting first baseman Ronnie Calvird leads the team in hitting, with a .351 batting average, while designated hitter Brandon Gargus has a team-high 5 homers this season.
UMSL, which also got off to a shaky start, but is currently on its best streak of the season, with six wins of its last seven games, including three of four last weekend at William Jewell.
Pitchers Jeremy Butler, Tomas Duffek, Adam Radick, and Austin Schuler have been dynamite as UMSL’s regular weekend starters, but Wednesday’s contest will likely see appearances by top freshman hurler Chris True and team ERA leader Zach Standefer.
True is 1-1 in three starts this season, while Standefer boasts a 0.92 ERA in 19 2/3 innings this year.
Both players are coming off impressive, complete-game performances last week against Maryville.
Offensively, the Tritons will be led by junior John Pilackas, the reigning GLVC Baseball Player of the Week, whose nine home runs this season lead the conference and rank 21st in the nation among all NCAA Division II players.
Teammates Lucas Matecki and Trevor Nathanson, who are hitting .295 and .284 respectively, are tied for the UMSL team lead with 18 RBIs this year, while shortstop Beau Harris has the best batting average on the club (.314).
First pitch for Wednesday’s nine-inning game is set for 3 p.m.
UMSL — RHP Chris True (1-1) 3.82 ERA, 33.0 IP, 27 Ks, 8 BB.
McKENDREE — RHP Jon Trampe (0-3) 6.68 ERA, 36.0 IP, 20 Ks, 12 BB.
UMSL Tritons McKendree Bearcats
8 Lucas Matecki – CF 15 Brandyn Snider – CF
5 Beau Harris – SS 20 Kyle Rutledge – LF
20 Spencer Ammons – DH 1 Tony Kossina – RF
16 Trevor Nathanson – 1B 3 Ronnie Calvird – 1B
25 John Pilackas – RF 23 Brandon Gargus – DH
9 Charlie Mohr – 3B 31 Jacob Kline- 3B
14 Justin Lois – 2B 10 Pierce Borah – 2B
7 Drew Standefer – LF 29 Tom Collins – C
41 Joel Ayala – C 6 Blake Abbott – SS
UPCOMING UMSL BASEBALL SCHEDULE
April 11 at McKendree* 3 pm
April 14 vs. Quincy Noon
April 15 vs. Quincy Noon
April 18 at Maryville 4 pm
April 21 at Illinois-Springfield Noon
April 22 at Illinois-Springfield Noon
April 28 at Missouri S&T Noon
April 29 at Missouri S&T Noon
* – denotes single game, all others are scheduled doubleheaders.