Archive for the 'Wayne State Baseball' Category



A 5 Horse Race Shaping Up in Northern Sun & NCAA D2 Presidents Hate Sports

image

While it seems like the Northern Sun Regular Season just got started we are actually approaching the halfway mark (each team is scheduled for 32 games).  At this point of the season it looks like a 5 team race for the top spot and quite possibly a 5 team race for the 6th and final spot in the Northern Sun Postseason Tourney. 

Top 5 Race

St. Cloud State and Winona State sit atop the standings with only 1 loss each.  While the Huskies technically lead you need to factor in their weaker schedule so far.  Minnesota State has looked like they might be the best team but split a doubleheader against Minnesota Duluth on Wednesday to drop a game behind those 2 in the loss column.  Wayne State swept their midweek set against Augustana to keep themselves in the title hunt and drop the Vikings into 4th.  Had Augustana reversed the result it might have eliminated the Wildcats from the Conference title.  Keep in mind that they won it last year with just 4 losses.

News of Note

  • Minnesota State may be in 3rd place but they are ranked in all 3 national polls coming in at #24 in the Coaches College Baseball News poll, #23 in the Writers NCBWA poll and #25 in the PING Baseball poll (which gives very little credit to NSIC teams).  Mavericks in polls
  • St. Cloud State isn’t ranked in 2 of the polls but does beat out Minnesota State in the NSCBWA poll coming in at #13 for the 2nd week in a row.  Huskies Ranked #13
  • In what may be the most important news for NSIC teams – it’s looking more and more possible that the Northern Sun Conference could possibly get 4 of the 6 spots in the NCAA Central Region Tourney.  Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams are struggling.  Only New Mexico Highlands, Mesa State and Metro State have above .500 records in the RMAC and Metro has a 15-14 overall record.  Nebraska Kearney has a decent 20-14 overall record but is only 9-10 in RMAC games.  RMAC Week 10 Release  Northern Sun teams hold 4 of the top 5 spots in the most recent NCBWA Central Region poll – NCBWA Regional Polls

NCAA At It Again

Finally, the NCAA is doing it’s very best to neuter Division II sports even more.  They recently implemented their new “Life in Balance” project which cut down the number of athletic contests in many sports, including baseball.  Starting next year Division 2 baseball goes from 56 maximum games to 50.  On March 31st they announced phase 2 of their effort –

presidents and chancellors promised to extend the balance-driven review to other aspects of the playing and practice season

These holier than thou, overpaid overseers of D2 institutions have decided that sports should play just a minor part of a students college experience – all the while they are raking in millions in tuition from athletes at their schools while giving out paltry amounts of scholarships.  Their proposals are mainly around reducing time athletes spend on sports in the offseason – “

they would consider changes that reduce athletics time commitments during the nonchampionship segment. 

Proposals include –

  • maintain the 45-day period in which to conduct 24 days of practice or competition but preclude any athletically related activities from being conducted during the remaining 21 days – So no weight training except during the 24 days
  • amend the start date of the nonchampionship segment for spring and winter sports, which currently is September 7 or the first day of classes…later date could be adopted to give these student-athletes more time to acclimate to campus life before beginning their sport-related activities. – That’s really helpful to Northern Schools in trying to get in fall workouts and scrimmages now isn’t it.

For more details on these proposals you can read the press release here – NCAA Life In Balance Phase 2 Proposals

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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.

Northern Sun Conference Games Start Today – Poll Results

image

The Northern Sun Conference’s 2010 regular season baseball games kick off today as St. Cloud State and Minnesota Crookston take to the Metrodome at 2pm for the first of 208 scheduled NSIC matchups.  There are 4 series scheduled for this weekend.  This will also kick off the new doubleheader format of 1 – 9 inning game followed by a 7 inning game each day.  I had previewed this new format and some of the impact last fall – Change To Doubleheader Format

  • St Cloud State @ Minnesota Crookston – St. Cloud’s Friday/Saturday games against Crookston were smartly planned in the Metrodome where they were guaranteed a playable field.  The Huskies are the clear favorite to win all 4 games but only won 3 of 4 last year.  In the end, that 1 loss to a team who only won 3 NSIC games, cost them a chance to go to the NSIC post season tournament.  Series preview is here – SCSU To Battle Golden Eagles
  • Concordia @ Augustana – The Concordia @ Augustana series has been moved from Sioux Falls to St. Paul and will be played at Concordia’s Barnes Field.  Last year the Vikings kicked off their successful season by winning 3 of 4 against the Golden Bears in the opening weekend.  This year they should be the slight favorites but these games could go either way – Opening Weekend Moved to Barnes Field
  • Wayne State @ Bemidji State – Wayne State will travel to Bemidji State to try and play 4 games in northern Minnesota on March 20th.  When those games were scheduled I would have bet a lot of money that they couldn’t play in Bemidji that early in the season.  This should be an interesting series as Wayne State has struggled in non conference play and the Beavers have a few nice wins and are ranked #9 in the Central Region by NCBWA.  If Wayne doesn’t take at least 3 of 4 their chances of winning a 7th straight NSIC title will take a hit.
  • Minnesota State @ Northern State – Finally, no word on where the Minnesota State vs. Northern State games will be played.  Minnesota State can’t afford to have any of these games cancelled as they should easily sweep the overmatched Wolves.

Preseason Poll Results

This past week I asked Northern Sun Baseball’s readers which team would win the NSIC Regular Season Title.  It was a tight race and in the end 2 teams (Winona State and Wayne State) tied for the lead.  This year certainly looks like it could be closer than years past as I think any of 4 teams could win it –

image 

Thanks to all who voted!

What’s With Wayne?

Wayne State1

Yesterday, Wayne State suffered a 6-1 loss to Wisconsin Parkside and 12-1 loss to Southern Indiana to move to 4-8 on the season.  The Wildcats were favored by many (including this writer) to continue their winning ways and challenge for their 7th straight Northern Sun Conference regular season title.

While the Conference games haven’t started yet, there have got to be a few nervous people in Nebraska.  So what has changed from last year?

Is it the pitching?

The 2010 Wildcats have a team ERA of 4.71 which is actually slightly down from 2009’s 4.86.  Their Batting Average Allowed is slightly worse (.289 vs. .284) and their WHIP (Walks + Hits divided by Innings Pitched) is almost identical.  I don’t think it’s the pitching.

Is it the fielding?

The 2009 version of Wayne State wasn’t exactly known as a top fielding team and the 2010 squad has continued that tradition.  The 2010 fielding % is slightly worse (.951 vs. .956) but more importantly the errors are costing them more.  Last year about 20% of the runs scored against them were unearned.  In 2010 that number is up to 25%.  So, fielding is a contributing factor but not the major one.

Is it the hitting?

The 2009 Wildcat team was amazing at the plate as they outhit their opponents by a wide margin and had all 11 of their primary hitters with batting averages over .300.  Nine of those guys had a slugging % above .494.  Here are the batting averages for the 10 primary batters so far in 2010 –

image

As you can see, only 2 guys are batting over .300.  Their team batting average is down .107 points and their slugging percentage is down a whopping .210 points.  Their team batting average is only .234 which is 55 points below their opponents.  The lack of hitting is clearly a major reason for the slow start this year.

Conclusion

The team had lofty expectations entering 2010 as they were ranked #14 in the country by the College Baseball News Preseason D2 Poll.  The explanation of this team being slow starters better get solved soon as the start of Conference games is just 12 days away.  One has to wonder if the loss of Coach Manganaro had more of an impact than most of us thought.


Daily Posts

January 2020
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031