Jacks host Bison in key series
The series begins with a 2 p.m. matinee Friday at Erv Huether Field. A doubleheader is slated for a noon start on Saturday, with the series finale set for 1 p.m. Sunday. Saturday will be Feed the Fans at the ballpark as those attending the game will receive free food courtesy of Cubby's Sports Bar and Grill. On Sunday, the Jackrabbits will recognize Mothers Day as all moms will receive free admission when accompanied by a child.
The Jackrabbits enter the weekend atop The Summit League with a 13-3 mark in conference play. Overall, SDSU is 27-12 and has won 24 of its last 27 games, including winning three of four games last week against Oakland (Mich.).
NDSU, meanwhile, has been a surprise team in The Summit League this season. Picked to finish sixth in the league's preseason poll, the Bison are a half-game behind Oral Roberts for second place with a 10-5 conference record. After winning two of three games against Centenary (La.) in a weather-shortened series last weekend, NDSU earned non-conference victories over Minnesota and North Dakota earlier this week to improve to 16-21 overall, overcoming an 0-13 start to its season.
Audio broadcasts of all four games of the series will be available through the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com. Pre-game shows begin 15 minutes prior to scheduled first pitch each day, with Tyler Merriam calling the play-by-play. Links to live stats also will be available at GoJacks.com.
THE SERIES: Friday's game will mark the 146th game between South Dakota State and North Dakota State on the baseball diamond. A series that dates back to 1956 when both programs were members of the North Central Conference, the Jackrabbits hold an 89-46 series advantage.
SDSU won three of the four meetings last season, all of which were played in Fargo, N.D.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: The Jackrabbits have made a habit out of rallying from deficits and winning close games in Summit League play this season.
Seven of SDSU's 13 wins in conference play have come in games in which they trailed after five innings. The Jackrabbits have outscored their league opponents 69-42 from the sixth inning on.
Following is a look at the Jackrabbit comebacks:
• April 10 at Western Illinois - trailed 9-1 after five innings, won 14-10
• April 15 at Centenary (La.) - trailed 6-4 after seven innings, won 9-6
• April 16 at Centenary (La.) [Game 1] - trailed 1-0 after six innings, won 4-1
• April 16 at Centenary (La.) [Game 2] - trailed 3-2 after five innings, won 4-3
• April 17 at Centenary (La.) - trailed 10-6 after six innings, won 13-10
• April 22 vs. Southern Utah - trailed 8-7 after 6 1/2 innings, won 9-8
• May 1 vs. Oakland (Mich.) - trailed 4-2 after 5, won 7-6
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Six different Jackrabbit players have been honored as Summit League Player/Pitcher of the Week so far in 2011.
Most recently, catcher Zach Briggs was honored as Co-Summit League Player of the Week after helping lead the Jackrabbit baseball team to a 4-1 record last week.
A junior from Dallas, Texas, Briggs batted .615 (8-for-13) for the week, posting a pair of three-hit games and driving in seven runs. In an April 27 matchup with Minnesota, Briggs was 3-for-3 and tied a single-game career high with five runs batted in. He was 3-for-4 with a double and home run and drove in a pair of runs in the first game of an April 30 doubleheader against Oakland (Mich.).
For the week, Briggs turned in a .722 on-base percentage and tallied a slugging percentage of 1.000. He also neutralized the opposition's running game as he threw out five of six would-be base-stealers.
Since the calendar flipped to April, Briggs has raised his batting average 112 points from .195 to .307. In his last 19 games, Briggs is hitting .404 (19-for-47) with a home run, 11 runs batted in and has a slugging percentage of .596 on the strength of six doubles. His on-base percentage in that span is .509.
Briggs shared the player of the week award with Oakland third baseman Mike Carson. Oral Roberts starting pitcher Drew Bowen was named Summit League Pitcher of the Week.
Other Jackrabbits honored by The Summit League this season have been:
• Blake Treinen, Pitcher of the Week (March 7);
• Stephen Bougher, Pitcher of the Week (March 21);
• Andrew Phelan, Player of the Week (March 21);
• Eric Cain, Player of the Week (April 4);
• Trever Vermeulen, Pitcher of the Week (April 18)
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: South Dakota State University seniors TreverVermeulen and Jesse Sawyer have each been honored on the preseason All-America baseball team selected by College Baseball Lineup.
A second-team selection as a relief pitcher, Vermeulen was named to his third preseason
All-America team. A Mitchell native, Vermeulen was a first-team all-Summit League selectionin 2010 after leading the league with single-season school records of 10 saves and 35appearances. He compiled a 9-1 record, struck out 62 batters in 68 1/3 innings and posteda league-leading 1.45 earned run average.
Earlier in the preseason, Vermeulen was named to the 2011 Proline Athletic National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason All-America Second Team and the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-America Third Team, as chosen by Collegiate Baseball.
Sawyer was a third-team selection as a third baseman to the College Baseball Lineup
Preseason All-America Team. A native of Calgary, Alberta, Sawyer holds the Jackrabbits' single-season home run record of 19 - accomplishing the feat in both 2009 and 2010. A two-time all-Summit League performer, Sawyer hit .359 with 73 runs batted in last season, while drawing a single-season school-record 50 bases on balls.
RECORD WATCH: Four Jackrabbit seniors - Joel Blake, Jesse Sawyer, Billy Stitz and Trever Vermeuelen - have already or are on pace to further rewrite the SDSU record book this season.
Following is a look at where the SDSU quartet currently stand in a number of career
• Doubles: First with 64 (previous record: 54, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
• Hits: Fourth with 234 (record: 288, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
• Total Bases: Seventh with 364 (record: 439, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
• At Bats: Ninth with 628 (record: 846, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
• Home Runs: First with 47 (previous record: 43, by Greg Geary, 2002-05);
• Bases on Balls: Fourth with 94 (record: 123, by Dave Lane, 1983-86);
• Total Bases: Fifth with 374 (record: 439, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
• Runs Batted In: Seventh with 160 (record: 192, by Billy McMacken, 1987-90);
• Slugging Percentage: Seventh at .648 (record: .713 by Billy McMacken, 1987-90)
• At-Bats: First with 846 (previous record: 779, by Nick Adams, 2005-08);
• Hits: First with 288 (previous record: 256, by Greg Geary, 2002-05);
• Runs Scored: First with 180 (previous record: 173, by Korby Mintken, 2005-08);
• Doubles: Second with 60 (record: 64, by Joel Blake, 2009-present);
• Triples: Second with 14 (record: 21, by Korby Mintken, 2005-08)
• Games Played: Second with 200 (record: 207, by Nick Adams, 2005-08)
• Total Bases: Second with 433 (record: 439, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
• Runs Batted In: Sixth with 161 (record: 192, by Billy McMacken, 1987-90);
• Appearances: First with 78 (previous record: 71, by Gary Olechoski, 2003-06);
• Earned Run Average: Third at 2.52 (record: 2.09 by Bob Ehrke, 1954-56);
• Saves: First with 20 (previous record: 14, by Gary Olechoski, 2003-06)
In addition, junior shortstop Eric Cain currently stands second in career assists with 379 - one behind all-time leader Pat Schmidt (380 assists from 1992-95).
TREINEN ON TRACK: Senior pitcher Blake Treinen has picked up where he left off last season as a front-line starter for the Jackrabbits.
A right-hander from Osage City, Kan., Treinen has posted a 4-2 record with a 2.87 earned run average in nine starts this season. The Summit League Pitcher of the Week on March 7, Treinen has averaged nearly a strikeout an inning by fanning 57 batters in 59 2/3 innings.
In 2010, Treinen was a first-team all-Summit League selection after posting a 7-1 record with 82 K's in 75.1 innings. He has moved into ninth place on the SDSU career strikeouts chart with 139, and needs only two K's to move into seventh place.
Treinen was a 23rd-round draft choice of the Florida Marlins in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, but opted to return to SDSU for his senior season.
COACH PRICE: Ritchie Price is in his third season as head coach of the South Dakota State University baseball team in 2011.
The youngest head baseball coach at the Division I level, Price has compiled a 92-63 career record (.594 winning percentage) with the Jackrabbits, including a breakthrough
39-21 season in 2010 as he was named Summit League Coach of the Year. SDSU tied a school record for most wins in a season, shared the regular season league title and earned the No. 1 seed for the Summit League Championship after becoming the first league team to win a four-game regular season series from perennial conference champion Oral Roberts.
Also included in the record-tying 39 victories were a win at nationally ranked and returning College World Series qualifier Arkansas, a three-game season sweep of Big Ten Conference champion Minnesota and a win over the third-place team in the Big Ten, Iowa.
En route to their second consecutive appearance in the Summit League title series, the Jackrabbits re-wrote the record book in 2010, establishing new standards in eight different offensive categories, including batting average (.350), hits (769), runs scored (578), home runs (84) and runs batted in (549). SDSU was far from one-dimensional, however, as the Jackrabbits also set a new single-season record for fielding percentage at .972 and relief pitcher Trever Vermeulen became the first player in the Division I era to earn All-America recognition. The Jackrabbits' eight all-league honorees led The Summit League.
In 2009, Price directed a dramatic mid-season turnaround during his inaugural season with the Jackrabbits. After starting the 2009 campaign with a 5-22 overall record and 1-6 mark in Summit League play, SDSU went 19-6 over the final five weeks of the regular season to earn the third seed in the Currington Mortgage Summit League Championship.
At the league tournament, the Jackrabbits dropped their opening game to Southern Utah but came back to defeat both Centenary (La.) and Southern Utah the next day to advance to the title series, where they lost to Oral Roberts.
Overall, SDSU finished the 2009 season with a 26-30 record, including a 17-10 slate in Summit League regular season games.
Price began his association with the Jackrabbit baseball program by serving as infield and third base coach in 2008, and was elevated to interim head coach following the resignation of Reggie Christiansen in June 2008. During his tenure, two SDSU players have been drafted by Major League teams: left-handed pitcher Caleb Thielbar in the 18th round of the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and right-handed pitcher Blake Treinen in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft by the Florida Marlins.
A native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Price comes from a baseball family. His two brothers - Ryne and Robby - also played at the University of Kansas, where their father, Ritch, is currently the head baseball coach.
Ritchie Price also played at Kansas, setting Jayhawk career records for games played (255), at bats (1,022), hits (312), runs scored (204), sacrifices (35) and hit by pitches (53). Price's graduating class owns the most wins of any class in Kansas baseball history.
In 2006, Price helped lead the Jayhawks to a Big 12 Conterence championship, as Kansas went 4-0 to win the conference title. After earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, Price's squad went 1-2, earning a win over Hawaii in the opening game.
Price was one of the ironmen of college baseball, starting 252 consecutive games at shortstop. Although no official records are kept by the NCAA, this is most certainly among the best in college baseball history.
He was a four-time all-Big 12 selection, and was named the conference's best defensive shortstop in 2004 by Baseball America.
Following his career with the Jayhawks, Price was an 18th round draft pick of the New York Mets in Major League Baseball's first-year player draft. Price started with the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League, but also spent a week in Class A, playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League.
THE ROSTER: The 2011 SDSU baseball roster features 28 players from 10 different states plus Canada. Of the 28 players, six are from South Dakota, while four are from Colorado. Minnesota and Texas are represented by three players, while California, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington feature one player each. In addition, six players are from Canada. By class, nine are seniors, seven are juniors, seven are sophomores, two are redshirt freshmen and three are incoming freshmen.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to make a return trip to Fargo on Tuesday, May 10, for a night game with North Dakota State. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at Newman Outdoor Field.
SDSU will then play its final Summit League road series of the season, traveling to Tulsa, Okla., for a four-game set at Oral Roberts May 13-15.