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Photo by: South Dakota State University

Jacks square off against ORU in Tulsa

Courtesy: SDSU Sports Info
Release: 05/13/2011 09:07:26

The Summit League regular season baseball title and No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament could be decided this weekend as league-leading South Dakota State travels to second-place Oral Roberts for a four-game series.
Game 1 of the series is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday at J.L. Johnson Stadium on the ORU campus in Tulsa, Okla. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, with the series finale set for 1 p.m. Sunday. All four games will be broadcast live on KJJQ 910 AM and streamed through the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com. Coverage, with Tyler Merriam calling the play-by-play, begins 15 minutes prior to scheduled first pitch each day.
SDSU enters the series with a two-game lead in the league standings on the strength of winning 28 of its last 32 games. Overall, the Jackrabbits are 31-13, including a 16-4 mark in Summit League play. SDSU took three of four games in a home series against North Dakota State last weekend and added a 15-12, non-conference victory over the Bison on May 10.
The perennial Summit League champions, the Golden Eagles have posted a 26-18 overall record so far this season, including a 14-6 record against league opponents. ORU won three of four games last weekend at Oakland (Mich.) and added an 8-7, out-of-conference victory at Wichita State (Kan.) on May 10.

THE SERIES: Friday's game will mark the 27th game between South Dakota State and Oral Roberts on the baseball diamond. A series that dates back to 1971, prior to each school moving to the Division I level, ORU holds a 20-6 advantage.
The two programs split the 2010 season series, 3-3. SDSU won three of the four regular season matchups played in Brookings, while Oral Roberts won both matchups at the Summit League Championship on their home field in advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

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, relief pitcher Trever Vermeulen earned his second Summit League Pitcher of the Week award, while also being named Central Region Pitcher of the Week by CollegeBaseballInsider.com
In three outings last weekend against North Dakota State, the right-hander did not allow a run as he struck out 13 batters and walked only one in 10 innings of work, holding opposing batters to a .097 batting average. He was the winning pitcher in the opening game of the four-game series on May 6 and earned his eighth save of the season in the first game of a doubleheader on May 7. In a 15-inning marathon on May 8, Vermeulen tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings, recording a career-high eight strikeouts.
A senior, Vermeulen has posted a 2-0 record with a 0.98 earned run average in league games this season, while recording six saves and 36 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. He has earned Summit League Pitcher of the Week recognition seven times in his career.
Other Jackrabbits honored by The Summit League this season have been:

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: South Dakota State University seniors Trever Vermeulen and Jesse Sawyer were 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 posted a 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 categories:
Joel Blake

• Doubles: First with 66 (previous record: 54, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
• Hits: Third with 246 (record: 294, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
• Total Bases: Fifth with 378 (record: 441, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
• At Bats: Seventh with 649 (record: 865, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
Jesse Sawyer

  • Home Runs: First with 49 (previous record: 43, by Greg Geary, 2002-05);
  • Bases on Balls: Fourth with 96 (record: 123, by Dave Lane, 1983-86);
  • Total Bases: Fourth with 384 (record: 441, by Billy Stitz, 2008-present)
  • Runs Batted In: Fourth with 166 (record: 192, by Billy McMacken, 1987-90);
  • Slugging Percentage: Eighth at .643 (record: .713 by Billy McMacken, 1987-90)
    Billy Stitz
  • At-Bats: First with 865 (previous record: 779, by Nick Adams, 2005-08);
  • Hits: First with 294 (previous record: 256, by Greg Geary, 2002-05);
  • Runs Scored: First with 184 (previous record: 173, by Korby Mintken, 2005-08);
  • Total Bases: First with 441 (previous record: 439, by Greg Geary, 2002-05)
  • Doubles: Second with 60 (record: 66, by Joel Blake, 2009-present);
  • Triples: Second with 15 (record: 21, by Korby Mintken, 2005-08)
  • Games Played: Second with 204 (record: 207, by Nick Adams, 2005-08)
  • Runs Batted In: Fifth with 164 (record: 192, by Billy McMacken, 1987-90);

Trever Vermeulen

  • Appearances: First with 81 (previous record: 71, by Gary Olechoski, 2003-06);
  • Earned Run Average: Third at 2.34 (record: 2.09 by Bob Ehrke, 1954-56);
  • Saves: First with 21 (previous record: 14, by Gary Olechoski, 2003-06)

In addition, junior shortstop Eric Cain has set the career assists mark with 390. Pat Schmidt, who played from 1992-95, previously held the Jackrabbit record with 380 assists.

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 5-2 record with a 3.06 earned run average in 10 starts this season. The Summit League Pitcher of the Week on March 7, Treinen has averaged nearly a strikeout an inning by fanning 62 batters in 642/3 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 96-64 career record (.600 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.
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.

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 play a non-conference game May 17 at the University of North Dakota before returning home to close out the regular season with a four-game set against IPFW at Erv Huether Field.
The series opener is set for 3 p.m. Thursday (May 19), with a doubleheader slated for noon on Friday (May 20). A single game on Saturday (May 21) concludes the regular season.
Pairings for the Summit League Championship May 26-28 in Sioux Falls will be announced following the completion of play on May 21.

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