With just six games remaining in the regular season and the Missouri Valley Conference tournament inching ever closer, the University of Evansville baseball team will be looking to improve its league positioning this weekend as Southern Illinois is slated to pay a visit to Charles H. Braun Stadium.
The Aces, who were swept in conference play for the first time this season a week ago at Dallas Baptist, enter the weekend with a 7-8 league mark and a 25-21 overall record. The three losses saw UE drop from second in the standings down into a tie with Wichita State for fifth.
However, the Aces do have a number of things working in their favor, beginning with holding a tiebreaker over both Wichita State (18-31, 7-8 MVC) and fourth-place Bradley (23-17, 7-7 MVC). The two teams currently tied for second, Indiana State (30-17, 9-6 MVC) and Southern Illinois (28-19, 9-6 MVC), represent the final two opponents on UE’s schedule this season.
Dallas Baptist (32-15, 11-3 MVC) currently holds a 2.5 game lead at the top of the standings.
If Evansville is to make a push up the standings, chances are that its hot-hitting line-up will play a major role. With six players hitting better than .280 and 46 home runs on the year, the team is enjoying one of its best offensive seasons. Trey Hair and Boomer Synek lead the group with .361 and .344 averages, respectively, combining for 74 scores and 72 runs batted in to go along with 30 doubles and 13 round-trippers.
Josh Jyawook and his .306 average as well as Korbin Williams and his team-leading 10 homers have also impressed, and UE has really depended on contributions from all over the line-up as 12 different players have left the park this season.
Synek, who has played behind the plate virtually all season, also help leads a defensive effort that ranks among the top of the MVC. The senior, who is playing in his first-ever collegiate campaign at catcher, has picked off 13 runners this season, which is a total better than every other MVC team. He’s also caught another 16 stealing.
As a team, the Aces have really helped out their pitching staff, committing the second-fewest errors in the league and posting a .974 fielding percentage.
On the mound, UE will once again turn to Patrick Schnieders tonight. The junior out of Westphailia, Mo., will be looking for his first win since April 22, and he enters the weekend with a 4-4 record with a 4.50 earned run average.
Starters for Saturday and Sunday have yet to be determined.
First pitch tonight is slated for 6:00 p.m., and Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. contest will represent the final home game of the year for the Aces. A special pregame ceremony will take place to honor the UE senior class.