Archive for the 'Minnesota Duluth Baseball' Category



And Down The Stretch They Come

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Last year at this time it was already down to just a 2 team race between Wayne State and Minnesota State to determine the Northern Sun Conference regular season champion.  One year later there looks like a lot more parity at the top as 5 teams are within 2 games of the title with 12 games remaining in the season.

Weekend Recap

In the weekends top matchup, St. Cloud State and Augustana split their 4 game series.  Augustana has now lost 9 of their last 12 NSIC games after an 8-0 start and is in danger of missing the post season tourney.  In all fairness, they are coming off of a brutal schedule of Winona State, Wayne State and St. Cloud State.  The Huskies probably control their own fate but they have their own scheduling nightmare in the coming weeks.  Augie Baseball Splits Again

Winona State holds onto the top spot in the Northern Sun by taking 3 of 4 against Mary.  In their one win, Mary’s Ryan Schnell pitched a 9 inning complete game to get the win giving up just 2 earned runs in a 6-3 victory.  Warriors Win 3 of 4

Northern State won just their 2nd game of the season in the weekends most surprising victory as they split on Sunday with Wayne State to keep the Wildcats out of a share of first place.  After the pounding they took in 2009 it must have been satisfying to at least win some measure of payback.  You have to wonder whether this unexpected loss will play a role in Wayne’s ability to win their 7th straight NSIC title.  Wayne State Splits With Northern

Minnesota Duluth had its 2nd straight 4 win weekend to move into the outright 6th spot in the standings and a possible place in the NSIC Tourney.  Freshman pitcher, Eric Hummel, moved to 4-0 on the season in the opening game.  Bulldogs Complete 2nd Sweep

Southwest Minnesota State swept all 4 of their games against Upper Iowa to extend their undefeated streak to 11 games.  After a 4-5 start they are in the thick of the NSIC race, although having the conference’s easiest schedule hasn’t hurt.  Andrew Kinney became the school’s all-time home run leader during the weekend along the way.  Mustangs Complete Sweep of UIU

Finally, Concordia has made a late surge winning 8 of their last 9 games and is in the hunt for a Playoff spot.  Pitcher Nick Anderson got both a save and a win in Sunday’s sweep of Minnesota Crookston.  Concordia Gets Sweep

Remaining Games

Most teams have 12 games remaining so in trying to project who will be the NSIC champion (and who makes the playoffs) has a lot to do with who each team plays from here on out.  Here are the teams remaining series –

Winona State – SMSU, UMD, CSP

Wayne State – SCSU, MSU, UMC

Minnesota State – CSP, Wayne, SCSU

SCSU – Wayne, NSU, MSU

SMSU – Winona, Aug, Mary

UMD – UMC, Winona, UIU

Augustana – UIU, SMSU, NSU

Concordia – MSU, BSU, Winona

Wayne State’s chances to win their 7th straight crown will be decided in the next 8 games.  They have 2 tough series in a row and those 8 difficult games are in an 8 day stretch with the last 6 of them on the road.

Free For All

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I apologize to my readers as business is going quite well right now and I’m finding little time (and motivation) to devote to blogging about baseball right now (especially since I’m way more interested in the Twins).

It was an interesting weekend – the Augustana vs. Wayne State pair of games tomorrow should be big, especially for the Vikings.  Winona State at Upper Iowa and Duluth at Minnesota State are not gimmies for the higher ranked teams either.

The Free For All?  In addition to the teams on the field, it’s up to the readers to have it out with each other and keep the thread going this week.

Now – back to selling houses where I finished up a deal for a buyer yesterday and am negotiation on an offer for a seller I represent today. 🙂

Week 3 Kicks Off On Thursday – Mav’s Rule!

Weekend Preview

Week 3 of the Northern Sun Conference kicked off today with many teams playing Thursday-Friday doubleheaders.  This week we have a number of interesting matchups and already we are seeing some of the lower level teams knock off the title contenders.

Thursday Results –

The biggest series of the weekend is the home & home series between Minnesota State and Southwest Minnesota State.  The Mavericks were picked in the preseason coaches poll to win the NSIC in 2010 and so far the coaches look like they were on to something.  Minnesota State came out of the games with 2 dominating performances on both offense and pitching to move to 9-1 in the conference, winning 11-1 & 8-2.  Game 1 saw the Mustangs have the 10 run rule implemented as Patrick Lenton pitched a complete game gem in 7 innings to move to 6-2 on the season.  He gave up just 4 hits to go with 5 K’s and no walks.  Game 2 saw an equally impressive pitching performance by Blake Schwartz who moved to 6-0 on the season.  These 2 teams will play again tomorrow in Marshall.  Mavericks Sweep Mustangs

St. Cloud State also claimed a 7 inning, 10 run rule game in their 12-2 win over Minnesota Duluth today.  David Deminsky, the NSIC Pitcher of the Week last week, went the distance to get the win.  Sam Radbil hit a grand slam in the game to lead the offensive attack.  The Bulldogs did come back in game 2 to give the Huskies their first Conference loss of the season as they won 9-6.  It was an off day for Logan Birr – both Tyler Erickson and Brian Burmann had home runs for Duluth.

Concordia St Paul got their first win of the season as they split a doubleheader with Wayne State.  The Wildcats eeked out the first game in 9 innings by a score of 13-12 in a game that featured 39 hits between the 2 teams.  Joe Wendte had a huge day for them as he was 5-6 with 2 HR’s, 3 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.  Concordia might have won but they left 17 runners on base in the game.  In the 2nd game Concordia got a great pitching performance from Chris Peterson (2-1) as he pitched a complete game to lead the Golden Bears to a 7-2 victory.  Bryan Lippincott was huge on the day as he was 6-10 with 4 runs, 5 RBI’s and 2 homers to lead Concordia offensively. 

Other News –

Some other information came out this week of interest including:

  • Minnesota State issued an update on their former players who are in the Minor Leagues – Mavs In The Minors
  • Cody Wilcoxson of Concordia continues to post regularly on his Ping! blog.  He’s already posted on it 16 times – Breaking the Losing Woes
  • Augustana easily beat Morningside College today in a non-conference game by a score of 11-2 – Vikings Baseball Cruises
  • St. Cloud State jumped to #13 in the NCBWA poll this week and into a tie for the top spot in the Central Region.  Minnesota State, Winona State and Augustana are also in the all important Top 6 – NCBWA Regional Polls

Players of the Week

I’m a little behind but I should at least acknowledge the Players of the Week for the 8th week of NSIC play – NSIC Week 8 Release

NSIC Player of the Week
Photo#2 Derick Swenson
OF, 5-7, 165, Sr., R/R
Alexandria, Minn.
Alexandria HS
SMSU

Derick Swenson helped lead SMSU to a 5-1 week, including 4-0 in NSIC play, batting .609 with 14 hits in 23 at bats. Swenson finished with four doubles, three home runs and one triple and added nine RBI. He finished with a slugging percentage of 1.261 and an on-base percentage of .679 as he also recorded three walks, two hit by pitches and stole two bases.

NSIC Pitcher of the Week
Photo#27 David Deminsky
LHP, 6-3, 205, SR., L/L
Sartell, Minn.
Sartell HS
St. Cloud State

David Deminsky improved to 5-1 on the year with a complete seven inning shutout on the mound in a 15-0 win over the University of Mary. He gave up just four hits and finished the game with 11 strikeouts. Deminsky is currently tied for with Nick Anderson (Brainerd) with a team-high 57 strikeouts on the season.

First 2 Weeks of Northern Sun Play Complete

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We are 2 weeks into the Northern Sun Conference’s league games and there seems to be a clear division between the haves and the have nots.  The top 6 teams are a combined 37-3 and have outscored the other 7 teams 476-134.  Poor Minnesota Crookston is losing by an average score of 15-1 (and that’s rounding up).

News of Note –

  • Wayne State has only lost 2 games but the fact that they won 3 of 4 from 2 different teams that they easily swept last year (Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth) is another sign that this team isn’t quite as good as last years squad.  They would seem to be doing okay at 6-2  but that already drops them 2 games behind a number of other top contenders.  Last year’s Wildcats were 27-4 in league play so they have to go on quite the streak to match them.
  • Wayne State’s 1 loss this weekend was dealt by Duluth’s starting pitcher, Anders Engberg.  The Burnsville, MN native was dominant in the 2nd half of 2009 and earned 2nd team all-conference accolades as a freshman but was battling early season arm troubles.  It looks like he may be coming back into form.  If that’s the case, he can be hard to beat anytime he starts so it will be interesting to see how St. Cloud State fares after facing 2 cupcakes.  Duluth’s coaching staff would probably do well to go with him in one of the 7 inning contests as they did against Wayne State.
  • Winona State’s head coach, Kyle Poock, won his 200th game as coach of the Warriors.  The 2 wins on Saturday gave him an overall record of 200-148-1 in 7 seasons as head coach which include 5 straight winning seasons.  Winona went on to sweep all 4 games against Crookston to kick off their NSIC title hopes.    Poock Gets 200th Win
  • 2 of the more dominant pitchers so far this season are freshman from Minnesota’s Lake Conference –
    • St. Cloud State is loaded with great pitching stats and the pitcher with the best line so far is Shawn Riesgraf, a freshman from Chaska.  Riesgraf improved to 5-0 over the weekend and leads all Huskies pitchers with a 1.40 ERA and .174 BAA.  While not nearly as heralded as his pitching teammate from the 2008 class (Brad Hand) he was highly recruited by Minnesota State and others.
    • Augustana’s Grant Larson doesn’t have quite the same ERA but he leads the Vikings with a 4-0 record.  The freshman from Burnsville, MN does need to work on some control issues as he’s already hit 11 batters in just 28.2 innings of work.
  • The big series for the coming week will be the home and home series between Minnesota State and Southwest Minnesota State.  These 2 teams split the only 2 games they played last year.  With the Mavericks finishing just 1 game out of first place in 2009, it was a costly loss. 

Northern Sun Team Statistics

NSIC Logo

The NCAA has started publishing their Division 2 baseball statistics for the 2009-10 season which gives us a great way to compare the different teams within the NSIC against each other and see how they stack up nationally.  NCAA Statistics Tool (Choose Division II and then lots of selections to get to the Northern Sun list).

Here’s how the teams rank among all 225 D2 baseball programs:

Batting Average

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St. Cloud State leads all Northern Sun teams with a team batting average of .354 which ranks 12th in all of Division 2 baseball.  Augustana and Minnesota State also look like they are having very good years at the plate.  Every other team in the Conference ranks in the bottom half of D2.  We’ve previously chronicled the problems at the plate for perennial power Wayne State.  Even with a strong weekend at Bemidji they still rank in the bottom 20% (although the Monday games aren’t in the stats).

Most of the other hitting categories are very similar.

Stolen Bases Per Game

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Another measure to look at is which teams are creating scoring opportunities and using stolen bases to put pressure on the defense and pitchers.   As you can see, it’s a lot of the same teams but this statistic is obviously a measure of how often you are on base too which shows up in the batting average.  It may be more useful to look at which ones are different such as Mary which has a low batting average but a much higher steal ranking and Bemidji State who has a decent batting average but looks like they hardly ever steal.

Earned Run Average

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I said early on in my preview that Minnesota State was going to be in good shape with their pitching and that shows up as they are ranked 11th nationally (and 8th nationally in hits allowed/game).  Among the other top teams, St. Cloud State is pitching well as are Winona State and Wayne State.  Mary’s pitchers are doing very well which is a surprise.  Augustana is sitting at 4-0 in the Conference standings but it looks like they are going to be fighting the opposite issue of Wayne State this year (good pitching, average hitting).  Minnesota Duluth is much improved compared to last year when their pitching at the beginning of the year was awful. 

Fielding Percentage

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The Northern Sun Conference sports 4 teams ranked among the top 20 teams in D2 baseball in regards to fielding.  Once again we see St. Cloud State and Minnesota State near the top of the rankings showing that these teams are solid in all phases of the game.  Southwest Minnesota State is a bit of an enigma since they’ve played few games so far but being last in fielding and middle of the pack in other categories doesn’t bode well for a team that made the NCAA Regional Tourney last year.

Individual Stats

It should be noted some great rankings so far among NSIC players –

  • Zach Rowles of Minnesota State is 10th nationally with a .508 Batting Average
  • Mary’s Andy Leer leads the country in Triples per Game
  • Wayne State’s Nick Bidroski is 6th in the country with a .607 On Base Percentage
  • Minnesota Duluth’s Tyler Erickson is 20th in Stolen Bases per Game
  • St. Cloud State Freshman Shawn Riesgraf is 17th nationally with a 1.19 Earned Run Average.  Their are 6 NSIC pitchers in the top 50 including 2 from Mary
  • Josh Voth of Wayne State is 2nd in Walks Allowed per 9 Innings as he only allows .43 per full game

Conclusions

While these make for interesting analysis, they are somewhat meaningless from the standpoint of comparing teams since every team plays different levels of non conference schedules.  Last year at this time St. Cloud State was also near the top of every Conference ranking and finished outside the Top 6 NSIC teams.  I do think their early schedule was much improved this year.

Players of the Week & Where We Stand

Players Of The Week

The Northern Sun Conference has named its Players of the Week for the 7th week.  For the 2nd week in a row a Minnesota Duluth player wins an award.  In an interesting twist, Charlie Dubanoski and Augustana’s only loss of the week was to Gary Wilfahrt Jr. – NSIC Week 7 Release

NSIC Player of the Week
Photo# 37 Charlie Dubanoski
C, 5-10, 185, Jr., R/R,
Burnsville, Minn.
Burnsville HS
Augustana

Charlie Dubanoski helped the Vikings go 8-1 last week. Dubanoski posed a .548 average, going 17 of 31. He collected 15 RBI on the week after belting three homeruns. Also, five of his hits on the week were doubles and he also had one triple. One of his best games of the week came against Concordia-St. Paul on Sunday, where he was 2 for 5 with both of his hits being homeruns. He recorded five RBI in that game. He was also 3 for 3 against the Golden Bears the game before, recording one double and batting in two. He had no errors and 28 putouts on the week.

NSIC Pitcher of the Week
Photo#5 Gary Wilfahrt,Jr.
RHP, 6-1, 210, Sr.,
New Ulm, Minn.
New Ulm Cathedral HS
Minnesota Duluth

Gary Wilfahrt, Jr., was a perfect 2-0 in his pair of starts last week as he picked up non-conference wins over Augustana (3-2) and U-Mary (5-1). The Bulldog team co-captain maintained a 2.25 earned run average, working 12 innings (including a complete game performance in game one against Mary) while allowing seven hits. The righty gave up only three runs, striking out 12 batters while surrendering just two free passes. Opponents mustered a paltry .171 batting average against the hurler.

Week 1 Conference Standings

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The first week of NSIC play is in the books and the teams you expected to win did so.  The top 4 teams had big offensive outputs as they scored a combined 199 runs in the 16 games for an average of more than 12 runs/game.  These included –

  • Wayne State 19, Bemidji State 2
  • Minnesota State 21, Northern State 0
  • St. Cloud State 27, Minnesota Crookston 0

The biggest impact of the weekend wasn’t that St. Cloud State, Minnesota State and Augustana are 4-0.  It’s that 1 loss by Wayne State.  While losing a game to Bemidji is nothing to feel bad about, it may prove costly at the end of the season where there looks to be a much more competitive set of teams at the top of the standings.

We should know more this coming week when more teams are in action, although it’s interesting that none of the very top teams are really playing each other.  The best matchup is probably Minnesota State vs. Upper Iowa who is a bit of a mystery this year but is usually quite competitive.

Time To Vote!

We are just days away from the start of the Northern Sun Conference regular season games.  Will it be Wayne State winning the NSIC regular season title for the 7th straight year or will their early season challenges translate into opportunity for some other team to capture the crown?  Take your turn to vote in our poll to the right –>

Players Of The Week

While I’ve seen some criticize the choice of a 3rd Minnesota State player already this season, I find it hard to fault either of this week’s selections.  Tyler Erickson had an amazing 4 games in Florida and Bret Mitchell totally shut down a team ranked in Division 2’s Top 15.  NSIC Week 6 Press Release

NSIC Player of the Week
Photo#10 Tyler Erickson
SS, 5-9, 160, Jr.,
Alexandria, Minn.
Jefferson HS
Minnesota Duluth

Tyler Erickson got off to a hot start in UMD’s Florida spring trip, going a combined 9-for-12 (.750) at the plate in the team’s first four games. He had two games with three or more hits, including a 4-for-4 performance in the Bulldogs’ first game of a doubleheader sweep against Wayne State (Mich.), on Sunday March 14. Erickson was also a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts while not registering a strike out.

NSIC Pitcher of the Week
Photo#22 Bret Mitchell
RHP, 6-2, 185, Jr., R/R
Lakeville, Minn.
Iowa Central CC
Minnesota State

Bret Mitchell tossed a nine-inning complete game and earned first career shut-out as Minnesota State downed Ashland 4-0 March 9th in Florida. He scattered four hits and walked one batter while striking out 11.

First Weekend of Northern Sun Play in the Books

Baseball Banner1

As a part of my reduced time investment to this blog my entries are going to be less frequent and rely more on school press releases.  It still gives NSIC baseball fans a place to share information and jabs. 

The first weekend of play is complete and 6 Northern Sun teams saw their first action over the past few days –

Minnesota Duluth and Southwest Minnesota State battled each other at the Metrodome with the Mustangs coming away with a 2 games to 1 advantage.  Duluth got robbed of a 9-1 win in the 4th scheduled game when they ran out of time with 3 outs to go in the 7th inning.  Bulldogs-Mustangs Recap

St. Cloud State swept 3 games from Wisconsin – Parkside at the Metrodome.  Heralded freshman, Jordan Smith, lived up to the early hype and had 3 multi-hit games going 7-11 for the series.  He’s the early favorite for Player of the Week.  St. Cloud State Sweeps

Bemidji State swept a non-conference doubleheader from fellow NSIC team, Minnesota Crookston by scores of 7-0 and 8-4.  Beavers sweep Golden Eagles  The perfect season was short lived as they dropped a pair of games the next day against Rockhurst University Rockhurst Wins 6-2 & 5-4

Concordia University split it’s season opening doubleheader against Northwestern (IA).  Both games were decided by 1 run as the Golden Bears won game 1, 7-6 but dropped the nightcap 5-4.  Concordia Splits 

Finally, Augustana kicked off their season at the Metrodome with a split against the same Rockhurst team that had swept Bemidji State.  Both games were blowouts with the Vikings winning game 1, 13-2 but being blown out in game 2, 14-5.  Vikings Split To Open Season

Schrader Getting Rocked To Kick Off Northern Sun Play

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Just a couple weeks ago the Northern Sun Conference Coaches Poll and NSIC Conference named Southwest Minnesota State pitcher, Adam Schrader, their NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.  Preseason NSIC Predictions  You’ll see that yours truly questioned the selection of Schrader.

Fast forward to the opening game of the 2010 D2 College Baseball season for teams in the Northern Sun Conference where SMSU is playing Minnesota Duluth at the Metrodome this afternoon.  Here’s Schrader’s line through 2 innings:

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He got bailed out in the first from a bases loaded no-out jam by a pop up and double play but 3 ER’s, 6 hits, 2 BB’s, 1 HBP & 1 WP to go along with 62 pitches isn’t exactly the line he was hoping for.

Yes – I realize it’s only 2 innings into the season.  Still an interesting start to the year.

You can follow along yourself here – SMSU Live Stats Site

Edit – It’s only fair to come back and say that Schrader finished with 2 really strong innings in the 3rd & 4th by facing 7 batters and giving up only 1 walk.  He left the game after 4 complete and in the end only surrendered the 3 ER’s

NCAA D2 College Baseball 2010 Season Kicks Off

NCAA Baseball Logo

The NCAA Division 2 College Baseball season officially kicks off today.  Unfortunately, there is no uniform website that tracks all of the schedules so short of looking at every team’s schedule it’s hard to say who is actually playing today.

What we can look at is the Northern Sun Schedule and see the following teams are kicking off play this week with the first games scheduled to take place this Thursday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis –

Thursday February 4th:

Minnesota Duluth vs. Southwest Minnesota State (DH) – 3pm

Concordia vs. Northwestern, IA (DH) – 8pm

Friday February 5th:

Minnesota Duluth vs. Southwest Minnesota State (DH) – 9am

Minnesota Crookston vs. Bemidji State (DH) – 7pm

Saturday February 6th:

St. Cloud State vs. Wisconsin Parkside (DH) – 9am

Sunday February 7th:

St. Cloud State vs. Wisconsin Parkside (DH) – 7:30am

Augustana vs. Rockhurst – 5pm  (no super bowl watching for them)

The most interesting of these games is certainly the UMD vs. SWMS matchup.  Last year SWMS spanked Duluth 34-1 in a non-conference game.  The Mustangs lost quite a few players from their 3rd place team of last year.  That said, I’m not sure Duluth has the pitching to win more than 1 game (although Anders Engberg is very good).

Minnesota Duluth – 2010 Baseball Schedule

Minnesota Duluth

The University of Minnesota Duluth has posted their baseball schedule for the upcoming 2010 baseball season – Minnesota Duluth 2010 Baseball Schedule

As I had previously reported, the team will be heading to the Russ Matt Invitational in Winter Haven, FL along with at least 5 other Northern Sun teams.  They hope to play as many as 10 games down there.  That’s a good thing as the vast majority of their other non-conference games will be played against other Northern Sun teams (12 games).  They do have 1 mid-week contest in April against Wisconsin Superior.  They open the season at the Metrodome against Southwest Minnesota State and have 8 games scheduled at the dome.

The Bulldogs face every other Northern Sun team except Augustana since they have the non-conference 4 game sets against SWMS, Mary & Concordia.  Their first conference opponent is once again Wayne State.  What’s interesting is that last year the Bulldogs were scheduled to have Wayne come to Duluth in late March but because of something called “winter” they had to move the games to Wayne, NE instead.  I had assumed that Duluth was out of luck and would have to travel there again this year but the games are listed as happening in Minneapolis (not the Metrodome).  Not sure if that means they will try to find an outdoor field in the Twin Cities which may still be difficult in late March.  This Twin Cities resident will appreciate if it really plays out this way.

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Southwest Minnesota St. – 2010 Baseball Schedule

SW MN State 

Southwest Minnesota State has published their 2010 baseball schedule for the upcoming school year.  Mustang 2010 Schedule

They open with 4 games at the Metrodome against the University of Minnesota Duluth on February 4th & 5th.  Hopefully for Duluth’s sake they won’t suffer a 34-1 loss to the Mustangs like they did early in the spring last year. 

In 2009 the Mustangs didn’t play their first games until mid-March on spring break so these 4 early games will give us a little better idea of where they stand.  They do have more than a month off afterward before traveling to Winter Haven, FL for the Russ Matt Invitational.

Each Northern Sun school plays 8 conference opponents 4 times and doesn’t play 4 of the conference schools.  This year, SMSU avoids Wayne State, Concordia, St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth.  These are the same 4 teams they avoided in 2009 so the conference uses the same in-conference scheduling for 2 years.

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