Jacks back on the road for four
The South Dakota State University baseball team will attempt to solidify its position for a possible berth in the upcoming Summit League Baseball Championship as it plays a four-game weekend series at Western Illinois.
The series opener is slated for 3 p.m. Friday at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium on the Western Illinois campus in Macomb. A doubleheader is scheduled for a noon start on Saturday, with the series finale Sunday also set for a noon first pitch. Video of all four games is scheduled to be available through the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, with Sunday’s game also slated to be televised on a tape-delayed basis by cable provider Mediacom.
SDSU enters the weekend with the most wins among Summit League baseball programs with a 22-14 overall record. In league play, the Jackrabbits are second in the standings with a 7-5 mark after splitting a four-game series last weekend against Oakland, which was moved to Papillion, Neb., due to unplayable field conditions at Erv Huether Field.
Western Illinois currently ranks last in the Summit League standings at 4-8 in league play and 13-26 overall. However, the Fighting Leathernecks won three of four games in a Summit League series April 26-28 at Fort Wayne.
THE SERIES: Friday’s game will mark the 20th meeting on the baseball diamond between South Dakota State and Western Illinois.
The two squads first played in 2006, with the Jackrabbits going on to hold a 13-6 lead in the all-time series. Friday’s game will mark the first meeting between the two programs this season after their April 21 doubleheader scheduled to be played in Brookings was canceled due to inclement weather and unplayable field conditions.
Following are the results of previous season series between the Jackrabbits and Western Illinois:
• 2006: Western won series, 2-1 [all games played at Macomb, Ill.]
• 2008: Series canceled due to weather
• 2009: SDSU won series, 4-0 [all games played at Macomb, Ill.]
• 2010: SDSU won series, 3-1 [all games played at Brookings
• 2011: SDSU won series, 3-1 [all games played at Macomb, Ill.
• 2012: SDSU and WIU split series, 2-2 [all games played at Brookings]
SUMMIT LEAGUE RACE: The South Dakota State University baseball team has been picked to finish second in the 2013 Summit League standings, according to a poll conducted among the league’s six head coaches and revealed in February.
North Dakota State received five first-place votes to be tabbed as the preseason favorite with 25 points. The Jackrabbits were second with 17 points, followed by Oakland with 16 points, including the other first-place vote.
Rounding out the poll were Western Illinois (15 points), Fort Wayne (nine) and Summit League newcomer (eight).
The Jackrabbits are coming off a 2012 season in which they finished fifth in Summit League play with a 7-14 conference record. SDSU missed out on the postseason tournament for the first time after making three consecutive tournament championship series appearances from 2009-11. Overall, the Jackrabbits ended the 2012 campaign with an 18-33-1 record under first-year head coach Dave Schrage.
The 2013 season will feature a revamped Summit League schedule in which teams will play 30 league contests, starting on April 5. Each team will play the other five programs six times — a four-game series at one location and a doubleheader at the other site. The top four teams will advance to the Summit League Championship, which is scheduled to be played May 23-25 in Rochester, Mich. The winner of the postseason tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
TELFORD ON FIRE: Two-time Summit League Player of the Week Daniel Telford has been on a tear in recent weeks, but his status for this weekend’s games are in question after suffering an injury in the series finale April 28 versus Oakland.
During the streak, which began with a four-hit game at Northern Colorado on March 30, Telford is batting .556 (25-for-45) with four home runs and 21 runs batted in. He has eight multi-hit games in the span, including two four-hit games and a three-hit game. He collected a career-high six RBI in an April 12 win at Fort Wayne and has five other multi-RBI games during his hitting streak.
For the season, Telford would be leading The Summit League in all three triple crown categories, but is about 15 at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title despite hitting .507 (37-for-73) for the season. His five home runs and 28 RBI currently lead the league.
A senior from Newmarket, Ontario, Telford has slugged .877 as 14 of his 37 hits have gone for extra bases. He was honored as Summit League Player of the Week on both April 1 and April 15.
MELTON ALSO HONORED: South Dakota State University third baseman Andrew Melton was honored as Summit League Player of the Week each of the first two weeks of the 2013 season.
A senior third baseman from Littleton, Colo., Melton batted .429 (9-for-21) with a .480 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage in two-game series against Waldorf (Iowa), Ohio State and St. Bonaventure (N.Y.). He scored five runs, drove in four runs and tallied three doubles.
Melton followed those performances by batting .500 (5-for-10) as the Jackrabbits won two of three games in a weekend series at Mississippi Valley State. He recorded three hits in the series opener on March 1, then added doubles in both games of a doubleheader on March 3. He scored four runs, drove in one run and posted a .643 on-base percentage with a .700 slugging percentage.
For the season, Melton is batting .289 (35-for-121) with seven doubles and a team-high 27 runs scored.
BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS: With their 3-0 and 5-0 wins over Waldorf (Iowa) to open the season Feb. 18, the Jackrabbits posted consecutive shuouts for the first time in seven years.
The last time SDSU blanked an opponent in back-to-back games was May 2, 2006, when the Jackrabbits defeated Bemidji State (Minn.) 6-0 in both games of a doubleheader at Bob Shelden Field.
The shutouts also propelled the Jackrabbits to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2002, when SDSU swept a twinbill from Dakota Wesleyan. The last time the Jackrabbits began a season with three straight wins was 1999.
FIELDING MARKS: The Jackrabbits’ starting corner infielders have each moved into the SDSU all-time top 10 in fielding categories in recent weeks.
Senior third baseman Andrew Melton currently stands sixth in career assists with 329, moving past Dave Lane (317 assists from 1983-86) after recording 11 assists in last weekend’s four-game series versus Oakland.
Next on the list is Chris Brown, who tallied 344 assists from 1994-97.
Junior first baseman Aaron Machbitz has vaulted into eighth place for career putouts. Over the weekend, he passed Chris Studer (648 putouts from 1999-2002) for ninth place and then surpassed Josh Guse (663 putouts from 1997-2000) for eighth place in the May 1 game versus Winnipeg.
Seventh place for career putouts currently belongs to Zach Briggs, who tallied 798 putouts from 2009-12.
SOMSEN TIES MARK: Senior right-hander Layne Somsen tied a Division I-era single-game record when he notched 12 strikeouts in only seven innings of work March 1 against Mississippi Valley State.
Somsen became the fourth Jackrabbit pitcher to tally a dozen strikeouts in a game, and the second to need only seven innings.
Other 12-strikeout performances were turned in by:
• Robby Apo, 12 K’s in nine innings, at North Dakota State, 5-5-2006;
• Caleb Thielber, 12 K’s in nine innings, vs. North Dakota State, 4-19-2009;
• Blake Treinen, 12 K’s in seven innings, vs. Oral Roberts, 5-18-2010 (Game 1).
Somsen turned in another strong outing March 15 at Saint Louis, pitching 8 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 Jackrabbit victory. He struck out six batters and walked only one to earn Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors.
For the season, the Yankton native ranks 37th nationally in both earned run average (1.60) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.23).
As a team, the Jackrabbit pitching staff ranks in the top 60 for strikeouts per nine innings (52nd, 7.6) and earned run average (59th, 3.47). In addition, SDSU stands 65th in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.22.
PITCHERS MOVE UP: Jackrabbit pitchers Stephen Bougher, Shane Kraemer and J.D. Moore figure to further etch their names into the South Dakota State career top-10 pitching lists this season.
A senior from Papillion, Neb., Bougher has moved into second place for career innings pitched with 263.1, trailing current Minnesota Twins prospect Caleb Thielbar, who logged 274 innings from 2006-09. Bougher has started 43 games on the mound during his Jackrabbit career, putting him one start behind Thielbar (44 starts from 2006-09). He also stands fourth in career strikeouts with 171.
Bougher leads the Jackrabbits during the Division I era with five career shutouts, including two this season. He earned Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors following wins over Oakland on April 14 and April 27. In his last start, Bougher retired 15 consecutive Oakland hitters and took a shutout into the seventh inning as he won his third straight Summit League decision and improved to 5-1 on the season.
Kraemer, a senior from Vancouver, British Columbia, has split his time between a starting role and the bullpen throughout his days as a Jackrabbit. With four starts this season and five outings out of the bullpen, Kraemer has upped his career appearances total to 60, putting him in eighth place on the Jackrabbit career charts.
Moore, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, earned the closer’s role midway through the 2012 season and responded with a team-high five saves. He has recorded eight saves in 16 appearances so far this season, placing him in third place on the SDSU career saves chart with 13.
Moore has allowed only two runs this season in 17.2 innings over his 16 appearances — a 1.02 earned run average. He has struck out 21 batters and is holding the opposition to a .145 batting average.
JACOBSON STREAK ENDS: Freshman outfielder Paul Jacobson had his team-best 13-game hitting streak end when he went 0-for-4 in a March 30 game at Northern Colorado.
During his streak, which dated back to Feb. 23 against Ohio State, Jacobson batted .340 (16-of-47) with four doubles, eight runs batted in and 14 runs scored. He hit his first career home run as part of a 2-for-4 effort in the series finale at Saint Louis (Mo.) on March 16.
Jacobson, who also had a streak of reaching base safely in 18 consecutive games, is 9-for-10 on stolen base attempts this season to share the team lead.
The longest hitting streak by a Jackrabbit player during the Division I era is 19 games by Tyson Fisher in 2006.
COACH SCHRAGE: Veteran baseball coach Dave Schrage (pronounced Schrag) enters his 25th season as a collegiate head coach during the 2013 season. Schrage was hired to take over the reins of the South Dakota State University baseball program on Aug. 8, 2011.
“Dave Schrage’s familiarity with our recruiting area and his success in building programs like ours make him a tremendous addition to the Jackrabbit family,” Jackrabbit Athletic Director Justin Sell said in announcing the hire.
Schrage recorded his 600th career victory on March 19, 2012, when the Jackrabbits recorded an 11-8 victory at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. After posting an 18-33-1 record in his first season at South Dakota State, including a 7-14 mark in The Summit League, Schrage enters the weekend with a 636-709-2 career mark. In 24 full seasons as a collegiate head coach, he has averaged more than 25 victories per season, including five campaigns with 32 or more wins. He has coached players who have earned all-conference honors 59 times and 38 of his former student-athletes have gone on to play professionally.
Most recently, Schrage was head coach at Notre Dame for four seasons, leading the Fighting Irish to a 119-104-1 record from 2007-10. After posting a .500 record (28-28) his first season in South Bend, Schrage put Notre Dame back in contention for postseason play with a 33-21-1 record in 2008 and a 36-23 mark in 2009. The Fighting Irish led the BIG EAST Conference in fielding in both 2008 and 2009, while consistently ranking at or near the top in batting, on-base percentage and earned run average.
Schrage has previously found success at the mid-major level, including a four-year stint at Evansville (Ind.) from 2003-06, during which he guided the Purple Aces to a 130-108 record. Evansville improved its win total each of his four seasons, from 24 in 2003 to 43 in 2006. Schrage earned Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year honors for the third time in 2006 as Evansville won both the regular season and tournament conference titles, earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Aces advanced all the way to the finals of the Charlottesville Regional, knocking off host Virginia before falling to South Carolina in the championship.
A Chicago native, Schrage directed a dramatic turnaround in his home state during a three-year run at Northern Illinois from 2000-02. After inheriting a team that was 4-51 the year before he arrived, Schrage’s squad turned in a 20-game improvement with a 24-33 record in his first season and then led the Huskies to a winning season in 2001 with a 28-27 overall mark. He was named runner-up for National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in 2000.
Schrage began his collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant under his predecessor at Notre Dame, Paul Mainieri, at St. Thomas University (Fla.) in 1984. He later returned to his alma mater, Creighton University (Neb.), as an assistant coach for two seasons.
As a collegiate player, Schrage was an all-conference outfielder at Creighton, batting .400 as a junior and .433 his senior season. He also was an Academic All-America honoree during his senior campaign in 1983, and graduated that spring with a bachelor of science degree in finance. Schrage was honored on the MVC’s Centennial Celebration baseball team and is the only person in league history to earn all-conference honors and be named MVC Coach of the Year in baseball.
THE ROSTER: The 2013 SDSU baseball roster features 36 players from 10 different states plus three Canadian provinces. Of the 36 players, seven are from South Dakota and five are from Iowa. Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota are represented by four players each. Two Jackrabbit players hail from Nebraska, while Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Washington are represented by one player each.
In addition, six players are from Canada — three from Ontario, two from British Columbia and one from Alberta.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to play a pair of mid-week games, traveling to North Dakota on May 7 and Creighton on May 8.
SDSU concludes the home season May 10-12 by hosting a four-game series against Fort Wayne at Erv Huether Field.