Archive for April, 2009



Mid Weekend NSIC D2 College Baseball Update

Play at Plate

The D2 college baseball teams that make up the Northern Sun Conference have all played 2 games so far, with the exception of 1 game between Concordia and Bemidji State which got postponed.  There are large swaths of rain expected across much of the upper Midwest today which may cause problems with the planned doubleheaders on the schedule.

Here’s a recap of yesterday’s action –

  • In what might be not only the Northern Sun’s series of the weekend, but series of the year, Wayne State split a pair of games with Minnesota State and both teams remain tied in the loss column at the top of the standings.  In game 1, Wayne State scored 3 runs in the 1st inning and never looked back as they won 9-3.  John Plasha had a 2 run homer for the Wildcats and starting pitcher, Chad Moreland, held the Mavericks to 4 hits to get his 6th win of the year.  The nightcap saw the Mavericks behind 1-0 after 1 inning and 3-1 after 6 before they rallied for 4 runs in the 7th inning on just 2 hits to win the game 5-3.  Wayne State actually outhit MSU by an 8-4 margin but Wildcat pitchers issued 7 walks which helped do them in.  The teams are scheduled for 2 more on Sunday which may prove decisive or may leave things just how they started.  Wayne State Splits with Minnesota State
  • Winona State had a convincing 12-0 win over Minnesota Duluth in the first game of their twinbill but the Bulldogs reversed the results in game 2 for a 5-1 win and split on the day.  The Warriors scored 5 runs in the opening frame of the 1st game which included a 2 run homer by Kyle Collins.  Starter Jim Kovacs pitched a complete game gem giving up just 5 hits and striking out 6.  In game 2, the Warriors managed only 4 hits in scoring 1 run.  Winona remains tied in 3rd place with SMSU.  Warriors Split with Minnesota Duluth
  • Upper Iowa eeked out 2 wins over Mary winning by scores of 4-3 and 2-0.  Excellent starting pitching by game 1’s Lucas Wilsing and game 2’s Greg Sieck was the difference as both threw complete games for the Peacocks.  The wins keep Upper Iowa in the pivotal 6th spot in the Northern Sun standings.  Peacocks Sweep Marauders
  • St. Cloud State got an important pair of wins over Northern State by winning 6-1 and 13-1.  They then did something really smart.  This blog has talked recently about how important it is for the teams battling for the top 6 spots to get their games in the standings against the lower tier teams.  With a serious threat of rain today in St. Cloud there was a chance that the Huskies games against the Wolves would be cancelled.  So they arranged to move today’s scheduled doubleheader to the Metrodome this evening.  Smart.  Huskies Sweep Wolves   Games Moved to Metrodome
  • Finally, Concordia got in a 4-2 win over Bemidji State before having to postpone game 2 until later in the weekend.  The teams will try to get in 3 more games before Monday.  The Golden Bears game 1 starter, Jake Schmidt (7-2), was masterful as he threw a complete game allowing just 6 hits to go with 14 K’s.  In the process, Schmidt broke his own team record for strikeouts in a season as he now stands at 103 (100 last year).  He also tied the Concordia all-time career wins mark of 23.  Schmidt Breaks Record in Victory

In other Northern Sun related news – there was exciting news on the out West as NSIC teams are keeping an eye toward the results in the Rocky Mountain Conference.  It would be very helpful if the RMAC’s Colorado State – Pueblo and New Mexico Highlands lost so that Northern Sun teams could pass them in the NCAA Regional poll for potential NCAA At-Large bids.

So far this weekend, Colorado State – Pueblo has lost 3 straight to Nebraska – Kearney.  Kearney was 17-28 overall entering the weekend.  The NCAA’s Central Region #1 team, Mesa State, has taken 2 of 3 from New Mexico Highlands with 1 game remaining.  

Northern Sun Weekend – Quick Update

Weekend Preview

Here’s a quick update on the weekend series on tap for the Northern Sun’s Division 2 college baseball teams.  (Sorry it’s so short but I have a very busy day)

  • After losing big in game 1 of their Friday doubleheader (23-6) Augustana came back big themselves to beat Southwest Minnesota State 19-9.  Augies Split In Offensive Battle
  • Wayne State and Minnesota State square off for 4 games this weekend in the biggest series of the year.  This series features the 2 teams picked as the top 2 in the coaches poll – they were right.  If one of them wins 3+ games they will be in great shape to win the Regular Season Conference Title.  WSC – MSU Meet In Clash of Top 2
  • Minnesota Duluth travels to Winona State for 4 games
  • St. Cloud State hosts Northern State
  • Mary goes to Upper Iowa
  • Finally, Concordia’s series with Bemidji State has been pushed back to Sunday/Monday – Concordia Series Pushed Back  It’s senior weekend for Bemidji and its 10 seniors – Bemidji Press Release

Southwest MN State Crushes Augies 23-6

SW MN State

In an important Northern Sun Conference D2 college baseball battle – Southwest Minnesota State and Augustana started a 4 game series this evening.  These games were moved up from a planned Saturday/Sunday pair of twinbills due to expected weather on Saturday.  Augustana really needs to show up for these games as they are sitting 1/2 game out of 7th place for the final spot in the NSIC Tourney.

SMSU has shown that they can hit and they jumped all over the Augies – early and often. 

As you can see from the boxscore, the final score was even a bit deceiving as the Mustangs actually had a 22-0 score after the top of the 6th inning.  It was almost reminiscent of the 34-1 shellacking they put on Minnesota Duluth early in the year.

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Not only did SMSU score 23 runs on 23 hits, they had 12 extra base hits, including 3 homers.  The Mustangs were paced by Matt Bauer who was 3-6 with a double, 2 home runs and 7 RBI’s.  Greg Laughlin also had a huge game going 3-5 with 3 extra base hits and 6 RBI’s.

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The nightcap game should be starting soon and can be followed live here – Augie Baseball Live

Upper Iowa Cancellations Really Hurt

Upper Iowa

One item I missed from Wednesday is actually quite significant in the race for the Top 6 positions in the Northern Sun Conference standings and a chance to play in the NSIC post-season tournament.

Upper Iowa was scheduled to play a doubleheader against Northern State yesterday but it was cancelled due to continued poor field conditions in Aberdeen, SD.  UIU Games at Northern State Cancelled

This is the 15th and 16th games of the season to be cancelled for the Peacocks and threatens to be the most significant.  Upper Iowa (12-10) is clinging to 6th place in the NSIC standings with a 1/2 game lead over Concordia and Augustana.  Northern State (1-15) is the last place team in the conference and those 2 games would have likely ended up as wins for the Peacocks giving them a bigger cushion in the standings.  While UIU’s remaining schedule is still easier than many of the other contenders, it will be interesting to see if those missed games come back to haunt them.

Concordia Announces 3 New Commits for 2010

Concordia

Concordia announced yesterday that 3 new players have committed to the Golden Bears to start play for them as freshman in 2010.  Three Commit for 2010 Season

Concordia University head baseball coach Mark “Lunch” McKenzie has announced the commitments of three student-athletes that will suit up for the 2010 season. Left handed pitcher Patrick Rydeen (Lakeland, Minn. / Stillwater Area HS), utility player Mick Sawinski (St. Louis Park, Minn. / St. Louis Park HS) and outfielder Bobby Widenski (Oak Creek, Wis. / Oak Creek HS) are the three newcomers who will help the team next season.

Rydeen is a leftie and is Stillwater’s #1 pitcher this year.  He won his first game this year against Roseville (Roseville Story) and lost a game this week against Park of Cottage Grove (gotta dig for it – Park Box Score).  He was Stillwater’s starter in game 1 of their 2008 Minnesota State Tournament appearance and took the loss against eventual champion Coon Rapids – Stillwater – Coon Rapids Boxscore

Sawinski was quite good in 2008, hitting .352 for St. Louis Park (2008 Statistics) but is off to a slow start this year as he’s hitting only .158 through the Orioles first 8 games (2009 Stats).

Widenski comes from the same school in Wisconsin as one of Concordia’s fall signee’s (JT Schneider).  In fact, that school (Oak Grove HS in WI) also has a player attending Northern Sun’s Winona State (Ross Fassbinder), a D1 player and 3 – D3 players.  Oak Creek Knights Site

The other intriguing thing about the press release is that it says these 3 join 2 others (JT Schneider and Griffon Kilber).  It makes no mention of Marcus Fitzgerald, a transfer player from DCTC who was listed on Concordia’s fall early signing press release.

Follow Up – NCAA D2 Baseball & Shorter Season

NCAA Baseball Logo

Last week I did a piece regarding the NCAA Division 2 Management Council’s meeting this week to discuss the possibility of shortening the D2 college baseball season from a maximum of 56 to 50 games.  There is also a threat of starting the season later to coincide with that proposal.  You can find that article here – NCAA Recommending Reductions in D2 College Baseball Games

Yesterday, the results of that meeting were made public.  The Management Council did seem willing to consider the recommendation of the Legislation Committee to reduce the season by 10% (56 to 50) and consider a later start date (2nd Thursday in February as opposed to the current February 1st start).

Here are some of the key takeaways from the release –

While the Council began warming to the idea of shortening seasons and reducing the maximum number of contests in certain sports where necessary, the primary takeaways from the group’s April 20-21 meeting in Indianapolis were that the discussion must be strategically rather than economically driven, and that proposals must be thoroughly vetted by the governance structure and other groups (for example, coaches associations, the Division II Athletics Directors Association and the Division II Conference Commissioners Association) to ensure meaningful input.

Those two premises were firmly entrenched as the Council began reviewing preliminary, broad-brush proposals from the Division II Legislation Committee regarding Bylaw 17 with an eye toward recommendations that would come to a membership vote at the (January) 2010 Convention.

For those “Academics” the debate by some isn’t about expenses or the benefits that athletes derive, but instead focus on college sports place in higher education –

Indeed, the review comes from Division II presidents and chancellors asking the governance structure to ensure that playing and practice season policies align with the division’s strategic-positioning platform. Since the platform’s positioning statement demands “balance and integration” of academic achievement, learning in high-level athletics competition and community engagement, Division II presidents are wondering whether student-athletes’ time on the fields and courts is skewing that balance.

If that doesn’t smack of elitism I don’t know what does.

It was also interesting that agreement seemed to be in place to reduce college baseball by 10% but that college softball might be considered differently and not be subject to the same changes. 

It’s unclear whether these changes could go into effect at the July NCAA President’s Council for the 2009-10 season or would wait for the January 2010 Convention.  Either way, it sounds likely that NCAA D2 college baseball is going to take a hit.

NCAA Management Council Meeting Recap

Northern Sun Wednesday Wrap – 4/23/09

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Yesterday was a busy day for the D2 college baseball teams in the Northern Sun Conference.  The top 8 teams in the standings all played doubleheaders against other top 8 teams and we saw some movement all across the standings.

  • St. Cloud State got an opening game win in their twinbill against conference leader Wayne State.  The Huskies went with a surprise starter in that game as their primary closer, Tim Radmacher, started and pitched a great game leading St. Cloud to a 2-1 victory.  Freshman Eric Schweiger of Wayne State started the 2nd game for the Wildcats and allowed only 2 hits in 5 innings of work to help his team to a split as WSC won 9-1.  SCSU Gains Split with Wayne State
  • Minnesota State swept Concordia by using the home run as a weapon.  The Mavericks hit 6 dingers on the way to 2 extra inning wins.  Minnesota State won the first game 5-4 in 8 innings.  They scored the game tying run in the 7th inning by getting 3 straight singles up the middle of the field and won it on a sacrifice bunt in the 8th.  The Mav’s again came from behind to tie the score in the 6th before getting a grand slam in the 8th by Travis Taran (his 2nd of the day) to win 9-4 in 8 innings.  The losses by Concordia drop them out of the top 6 in the standings.  The sweep by Minnesota State ties them with Wayne State atop the standings and sets up a monster 4 game series this weekend between the top 2 teams.  Late Leads Disappear for CU
  • It was a slugfest in Winona as Southwest Minnesota State swept Winona State 14-7 and 12-8 to pass the Warriors in the standings.  Derek Swenson led the Mustangs offense with 2 homers on the day along with 7 RBI’s.  SMSU Earns Sweep
  • Augustana and Upper Iowa split their doubleheader.  The win by the Peacocks did allow them to pass Concordia and claim 6th place in the standings.  The Augies starting pitcher, JaColby Anderson, was dominant in game 1 helping lead the team to a 9-0 win.  Game 2 was a different story as Upper Iowa held on to win 7-6.  Augies Split With Peacocks
  • Minnesota Duluth swept Minnesota Crookston by scores of 8-6 and 11-0.  Freshman Ben Jungers continues to pitch well as he held the Golden Eagles scoreless in that 2nd game.  Bulldogs Get 2nd Straight Sweep
  • Mary and Bemidji State split their doubleheader.  Mary won the first game 10-6 after scoring 5 in the 1st inning.  The Beavers came back with a 13-8 win in game 2 to even the series.  Bemidji Splits with Mary
  • Northern State got a sweep over a not so good Minnesota Morris team.  Wolves Sweep Morris

 

NCAA D2 College Baseball Regional Poll

NCAA Baseball Logo

The NCAA has released their Division 2 College Baseball Regional poll for April 22, 2009.  The complete poll including all 8 Regions can be found here – NCAA D2 Regional Poll

All Northern Sun teams are members of D2’s Central Region – a region which includes the 13 NSIC teams along with the 8 teams from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.  Each Conference will hold their own year-end Conference Tournament.  The winners of the NSIC and RMAC Tournaments each receive an automatic bid to be 1 of 6 teams in the NCAA Central Region Tourney.  The other 4 spots are at-large bids which this poll helps to determine.

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For anyone that remembers last week’s poll – there have been NO changes in the top 8 Central Region teams. 

Mesa State and Wayne State (NE) continue to have a very strong hold on the top 2 spots.  It continues to be troubling that RMAC teams hold down spots 3 & 4 as this means that the Northern Sun would, at best, get 3 teams in the NCAA D2 Regional Tournament.  With the RMAC’s Metro State winning 2 of 3 against Mesa State this past weekend a nightmare scenario of Metro winning the RMAC Tourney would get them 4 spots in the NCAA Regional leaving only 2 spots for NSIC teams. 

Best case for the Northern Sun teams is to have Mesa State sweep New Mexico Highlands this weekend and knock them down in the standings.  Highlands final 4 games are against Metro State who can certainly win some of those games too.  Colorado State – Pueblo has a much easier schedule so it’s unlikely that they will move downward much. 

Every game is certainly critical in jockeying for an at-large NCAA bid.

Huge Midweek D2 Baseball Battles Today

Unlock Ball

Today is an interesting day in the Northern Sun Conference.  The top 8 teams are all in action against each other in doubleheaders.  The teams are battling for position to be among the top 6 teams to make the post season NSIC Tournament and with only 12 games remaining every game is critical. 

One thing to keep an eye on is pitching depth.  Most of these teams just got done with 4 games this weekend, some with Sunday/Monday series, and they play 4 more this weekend.  This is going to force many of these teams to go with their #5/6 starters in these crucial games.  These same teams turn around next Wednesday and play each other again in another doubleheader, just reversed in where they play.

Wayne State (18-1) at St. Cloud State (9-7)

The Wayne State Wildcats enter the series in first place and are ranked as high as #12 nationally in the NCBWA poll this week.  The Huskies are coming off of a disappointing series where they dropped 3 of 4 to Augustana and fell to 6th place in the standings.  St. Cloud State has played 42 games this year, all of them on the road, so this is actually their home opener.  Wayne State comes into the series on a 9 game winning streak and holds a slim 1 game lead over Minnesota State, a team they play 4 games against this coming weekend.  St. Cloud State leads the all-time series against the Wildcats (4-1) but these teams haven’t faced each other since 1999.  St. Cloud State Opens Homestand

Minnesota State (16-2) at Concordia (11-8)

Minnesota State is trying to stay within 1 game of league leader WSC in order to make it that much easier to pass them in the standings when the pair meet this weekend.  The team has been idle for a week as they were the lone team with no games this weekend.  Their schedule difficulty really picks up now with their remaining 3 series against CU, WSC and SCSU so their goal may need to be more about maintaining a top 6 NCAA regional ranking than winning the Conference.  Concordia holds down the #5 spot in the standings but 8 of their remaining games are against top 3 teams.  If they can split those games and take the series against Bemidji they should be in good position.  You can listen to these 2 games today live (starting at 2pm) here – Listen to Mavericks vs. Golden Bears

Southwest Minnesota State (9-5) at Winona State (15-5)

This series features the leagues #4 team (SMSU) against the #3 team (Winona).  Both teams are sitting in pretty good position right now to make the NSIC Tournament so the bigger issue is positioning the NCAA Regional poll for a chance to make the NCAA D2 Tournament.  Right now Winona holds the #6 spot and SMSU holds the #7 spot.  With 6 teams making the Regional these positions may be critical making this series very important in the eyes of the polls.  Winona State holds a decided advantage all time against the Mustangs as the Warriors lead 99-47.  That said, the teams split 4 games last year.  SMSU Media Release

Upper Iowa (11-9) at Augustana (10-9)

The final big mid-week series features the leagues #7 & #8 teams who are looking to move up.  Both the Peacocks and Augies are probably rooting for Wayne State and Minnesota State to sweep their series’ so they can leapfrog teams ahead of them.  That said, they have to take care of their own business first.  Upper Iowa is actually in pretty good position right now as all 14 games they have remaining are against teams below them in the standings.  They are coming off of series splits in their last 6 games against teams ahead of them in the schedule so they can definitely compete.  The fact that UIU’s schedule is easier makes these games all the more important to Augustana.  The Vikings are coming off of an impressive series against SCSU where they won 3 of 4.  Augustana Media Release

Minnesota Crookston (3-21) at Minnesota Duluth (8-12)

Minnesota Crookston has only won 3 games this year but this is a team with some built in disadvantages so the fact that they’ve won games against the likes of SCSU and SMSU this year might be considered progress.  Minnesota Duluth has won 4 of their last 5 which includes 3 of 4 last weekend against Bemidji and a game against the conference’s #2 team, Minnesota State.  They are definitely getting better pitching of late as they’ve decided to throw their freshman pitchers into the fire and they’ve responded pretty well.  One of them, Anders Engberg, was just named NSIC Pitcher of the Week.  Golden Eagles Schedule 5 This Week

Bemidji State (5-18) at Mary (4-8)

The #10 & #11 teams in the standings square off for a chance to gain some measure of momentum toward finishing the season strong.  Bemidji is coming off of losing 3 of 4 to Duluth.  Mary also lost 3 of 4 this weekend but the fact that they won a game against the league’s #3 team (Winona) was encouraging.  These teams have split their previous 6 meetings.  Bemidji Media Release

Northern State (1-15) is scheduled to play a non-conference doubleheader against Minnesota Morris today. 

Northern Sun D2 College Baseball Poll – 4/21/09

Northern Sun D2 Poll1

Each week, the Northern Sun Baseball Blog combines the 3 primary Division 2 College Baseball Poll’s into 1 composite ranking.

Southern Arkansas remains as the #1 team in this week’s Northern Sun D2 College Baseball poll as they swept the top spot in all 3 polls.  There was major upheaval in this week’s poll as a number of highly ranked teams had poor weeks on the field.  In addition, we had been seeing the polls coming closer together a few weeks ago but they seem to be diverging in opinions over the last couple weeks.

Emporia State moves up from #5 to #2 this week.  They were ranked #3 in all 3 polls but because the Ping poll moved Mesa State down so far it allowed Emporia to grab the 2nd spot.  Barry moves up to #3 with Mesa State and West Chester rounding out the top 5.

Florida Southern took a huge tumble, falling all the way from #2 to #12.  Grand Valley State took a similar dive going from #4 to #15.

On the divergent opinion side you have teams like SC – Aiken getting top 10 rankings in 2 polls but being left out of the Ping poll.  You have Delta State at #5, #20 and not rated and you have Central Missouri at #7, #29 and not rated.  Among the top 30 teams only 18 of them made it onto all 3 Top 30 rankings.

The Northern Sun Conference is represented as Wayne State (NE) moved all the way up to #12 on the NCBWA poll and is sitting at #21 in the composite poll after not making the Top 30 last week.  Minnesota State and St. Cloud State received votes but not enough to make the Top 30.

 

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CBN – College Baseball News; Ping – Ping!Baseball; NCBWA – National College Baseball Writers Association; NSB Rank – Northern Sun Baseball Composite Poll; Comb Pts – Combined points in the composite rankings; LW – Last week’s composite ranking

College Baseball News Poll

Ping!Baseball Poll

NCBWA Poll

Northern Sun Players of the Week – 4/21/09

Players Of The Week

The Northern Sun Conference has named their Players of the Week for the week ending 4/20/09 (week 11) and they are:

The Player of the Week is Mike Bisenius from Wayne State.  The freshman from Sioux City, IA hit .550 for the week which included 4 home runs, 12 RBI’s and 12 runs scored.  His 4 homers came at the expense of the Wildcats 4 game series against Northern State where he had a round tripper in each of the games played.

The Pitcher of the Week was Anders Engberg of Minnesota Duluth.  The freshman from Burnsville, MN threw 6 innings of shutout baseball in helping lead the Bulldogs to a 4-0 victory over Bemidji State on Sunday.  He allowed only 5 hits and struck out 11 Beaver batters.  His ERA of 2.36 now leads all other regular Duluth pitchers. 

NSIC Week 11 Press Release

NSIC D2 Baseball Standings – 4/21/09

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Another weekend of Northern Sun D2 college baseball games are behind us after 6 games were completed on Monday.  At this point in the season most NSIC teams have 12 games remaining to stake their claim to one of the top 6 spots in order to make the Northern Sun Tournament.  The NSIC Tourney kicks off on May 7th in St. Cloud, MN. 

Wayne State and Minnesota State maintain the top 2 spots.  Both of them have tough midweek games before meeting for a crucial 4 game series this weekend that could very well decide which team wins the regular season Conference Champion.  Teams 5-8 in the standings (Concordia, St. Cloud State, Upper Iowa and Augustana) look to be battling it out for the last 2 spots. 

Yesterday’s games did have some significant impact on the standings –

  • The biggest games were between Augustana and St. Cloud State where the Augies swept the Huskies by scores of 4-2 and 12-6 to get to within 1 1/2 games of the coveted 6th spot.  The vaunted Huskies starters had a tough weekend as the Vikings launched 4 homers on the day, including 2 by JaColby Anderson.  Game 1 starter, Tyler Pierson, moved his record to 4-5 with a solid start.  Augie Baseball Sweeps
  • The University of Mary got a nice win on Monday against Winona State, winning game 1 by a score of 9-4 before dropping the nightcap 4-2.  Mary’s Tyler Liffrig tied the all-time Mary career home run record with his 26th and 27th homers during the day.  Game 1 starter Nate Watson struck out 11 Warrior batters on the way to his first win of the season.  Winona State got a complete game win from Andrew DeSousa in the 2nd contest and was led by Tony Mueller’s 3 hits to get the split.  Liffrig Ties Record in Mary Split
  • Wayne State continued it’s home run fest on Monday against Northern State as they swept the Wolves by scores of 23-15 and 10-1.  The games were played in Redfield, SD on a relatively small field with the wind blowing out.  The team hit 9 homers and had 20 hits in game 1 and added 3 more round trippers in the back end game.  That gave the Wildcats 25 home runs over the 4 game set.  I don’t think they track that in their record book but I’m guessing that would have set a new record by a wide margin.  WSC Extends Streak to 9 Games

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