Archive for March 21st, 2009

Series Preview: Bemidji St. vs. Wayne St.

Bemidji State Beavers Wayne State1

The final weekend Conference series features Bemidji State traveling to play Wayne State. 

Last year the Beavers (7-11) also traveled to Nebraska and came away with a 1-3 weekend which featured their first ever win at Wayne.  While they are on a 4 game losing streak they are still off to their best start in 6 years.  Earlier in the season they swept Minnesota State so they are certainly capable of playing with the top teams in the Conference.

Wayne State (8-5) comes into Conference play as the preseason coaches poll favorite.  The Wildcats have won the Conference title the past 5 straight years so they have been really good for a long time.  The team started 2009 with a bit of a so-so start but has recently won 4 straight games to come into this series on a high note.

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Bemidji State Approach

  • Put the ball in play – Wayne State has the worst fielding percentage in the Conference and 2 of their losses can be attributed to errors
  • Keep the ball down – Wayne State has 13 home runs to Bemidji’s 4 on the season.  The good news for the Beavers is their pitchers sport a really good fly ball to ground ball ratio (134/167) of .8 – keep inducing grounders.
  • Get a lead by 6th Inning – Maybe easier said than done but Bemidji is 6-0 when leading after 6 innings and 0-10 when trailing.
  • Pretend there’s a runner on base – Beaver batters are hitting .304 with a runner on base vs. .263 with bases empty

Wayne State Approach

  • Quickly Clone Eric Schwieger – The left handed freshman starter has been Wayne State’s best pitcher.  More importantly though, the Beavers have been hitting .323 vs. right handed pitchers and only .192 against left.  Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they are a right handed dominated pitching staff
  • Hit the ball toward Third – Beaver 3B, Colton Smith, has a very mediocre .803 fielding percentage.  The rest of the team is quite good.
  • Stay off the plate – Bemidji has 100 strikeouts and only 40 walks on the season – they must be pretty aggressive swingers

Prediction – Wayne State is likely the better team but I was impressed by Bemidji’s wins against Minnesota State.  I’ll go with a Wayne State 3-1 series victory.

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Series Preview: Augustana vs. Concordia

augustana  Concordia

In the 3rd Northern Sun Conference baseball series of the weekend, Concordia University of St. Paul hosts Augustana.  The games have been moved from Concordia’s home field to Minnetonka (MN) High School which has a field turf surface that is much more playable.  Weekend Series Moved

Concordia (15-3) comes into the series with their best start in school history and is ranked #28 in the country in the recent Northern Sun Poll (Northern Sun Baseball Poll).  The Golden Bears were picked in the preseason coaches poll as one of the Conference’s top 3 teams. 

Augustana (8-5) is playing their first series as a part of the Northern Sun Conference.  The team has already had a great turnaround from a year ago.  Last year, the team had a 13-30 record on the season.  Statistically, the team’s batting average is up 30 points, the pitchers ERA is down a full 1.5 runs/game and they’ve stolen more bases in 13 games than in all 43 last year.  First year head coach Tim Huber seems to have the Augies headed in the right direction.

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Coming into the series, Concordia holds most of the statistical advantages.  In comparison with all other Northern Sun teams the Golden Bears are #1 in Team Batting Average, #2 in Team ERA and #1 in Fielding.

Augustana Approach

  • Test Concordia’s Pitching Depth – Concordia’s #2 starter, Blake DeVries, hasn’t pitched since leaving a game against St. John’s with an injury.  In addition, the way their schedule has been spread out really hasn’t required that they go very deep into their staff.  Kirk Ingram has been great in relief but there’s not much else in their bullpen that has been tested.
  • Start Right Handed Hitters – Right handers are hitting .305 against Concordia pitching while lefties are hitting only .194.  When facing Concordia’s star pitcher Jake Schmidt the bias is even bigger (.316/.146).  On the other hand, when Ingram comes into the game put in a left handed pinch hitter as the bias reverses for him.
  • Be Careful Stealing – The Augies like to steal but need to be wary of Concordia catcher Chris Herbert who has thrown out 6 of 19 runners

Concordia Approach

  • Be aggressive at the Plate – Augies pitchers have a poor strike out ratio so they aren’t overpowering for the most part.  On the other hand, if Per Nestigen starts you may want to be a little patient with him as he’s got more walks than Innings Pitched which indicates control issues.
  • Run – Starting catcher Charles Dubanoski has only thrown out 1 base stealer in 9 attempts.

Prediction – Concordia is the better team, especially some of their top end guys.  That said, they’ve played an easy non-conference schedule and might not be extremely deep.  I’ll predict Concordia wins the series 3 games to 1.

Golden Eagles Stun Huskies in Conference Opener

Crookston Golden Eagles stcloudstate_logo

Yesterday in this blog I wrote my first Series Preview outlining the weekend games between Minnesota Crookston and St. Cloud State – SCSU vs. UMC Series Preview  In that piece I outlined the huge advantage in statistics that were owned by the Huskies and predicted a 4 game sweep over the Golden Eagles.

There’s a reason they play the games as even the best teams lose over the course of a long season – in a single baseball game, anything can happen.

In game 1 of their series, St. Cloud State opened up a commanding 6-0 lead after 3 innings but had to hold on in the 7th inning as the Golden Eagles scored 4 runs in the final frame to make it interesting.  The Huskies held on to win 7-5 but not before starter David Deminsky (4-0) gave up a lead off home run in the 7th and then let 2 more on base.  St. Cloud’s closer, Tim Radmacher, then promptly gave up a 3 run homer before shutting down the threat.  The final score may have lifted the spirits of the Crookston team who was expected to lose convincingly all weekend.  Game 1 Boxscore

In game 2, there were 4 lead changes in a back and forth battle that was tied 3-3 at the end of 7 innings and tied again at 5-5 after 11.  In the 12th inning the Golden Eagles capitalized on a walk to Paul Krebs and a double by catcher Tyler Reiner to push across the winning run and win 6-5 in 12.  Krebs (2-2) not only scored the winning run, he pitched the final 1.1 innings to get the win.  Game 2 Boxscore

The main differences in why Crookston competed so well –

  • The pitching staff, who came into the game with a Team ERA of 7.44, finished the day with a 4.73 ERA
  • That said, the biggest difference was at the plate.  The Golden Eagles entered the series having hit 3 home runs in their previous 14 games.  They must have eaten their Wheaties because they hit 3 home runs in each game yesterday!

These same 2 teams will play another doubleheader today to finish their weekend series.  No matter what happens I’ll rate this series as a win for Crookston.

Crookston Release – Baseball Team Stuns SCSU

St. Cloud Release – Huskies Split NSIC Opener


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