The University of Evansville baseball team will get one last test midweek before resuming Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend at Missouri State, as the Aces host Austin Peay Wednesday. First pitch versus the Governors is set for 6:00 p.m. at Braun Stadium
The Aces look to bounce back from a three-game sweep at Dallas Baptist and gain momentum heading back into Valley play this weekend. Evansville fell by scores of 10-4, 14-1, and 5-2 to the Patriots. Freshman Kevin Kaczmarski leads the Aces’ bats with a .333 average, followed by juniors Eric Stamets (.304) and Jason Hockemeyer (.299), as the team is hitting .254 collectively this season. Defensively, the Aces rank fifth in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage, while the pitching staff owns a 4.32 ERA led by Ryan Billo’s 7-1 record and 2.25 ERA.
Evansville leads the all-time series with APSU 37-20-2, including two wins last season over the Govs. UE’s bats exploded for a 24-3 win in Clarksville on April 5, 2011, while the Aces also won 8-3 on May 5th in Evansville.
UE Last Week: 1-3
5/2 vs. Belmont, 1-0, W
5/4 at Dallas Baptist, 10-4, L
5/5 at Dallas Baptist, 14-1, L
5/5 at Dallas Baptist, 5-2, L
Sophomore Ryan Billo tossed a nine-inning shutout gem against Belmont, but took the no-decision as the Aces won in walk-off style in a, 1-0, 11-inning victory. The right-hander had four perfect frames and allowed only one runner past second base, as he scattered six hits, walked none, and matched a career-high six strikeouts in a career-high nine complete innings, before being relieved by Zach Taylor entering extras. Billo leads the Aces with a 7-1 record on the season and 2.25 ERA.
The Aces are 3-1 this season when going into extra innings, winning their last two in 11 frames against Belmont (1-0, 5/2) and Dayton (7-6, 4/20). UE is 3-0 in extra-inning games at home and 0-1 on the road, falling to Creighton (3/31), 3-2, in 10.
Wednesday’s 11-inning shutout over Belmont marked UE’s first since lefty Kyle Freeland led UE to 1-0 victory over Creighton in Omaha on April 1st. It also marked the first combined shutout since Ryan Billo, Jake Naumann, and Josh Biggs worked together to keep Lipscomb off the board on March 28th as UE won 5-0. Evansville has recorded three shutouts this spring.
Entering last weekend with five home runs on the season, Evansville belted three long balls at Dallas Baptist led by freshman Kyle Pollock’s two. In game one, Pollock and freshman Kevin Kaczmarski led off the eighth inning with back-to-back solo shots, representing the first time the Aces have hit consecutive home runs since April 5th, 2011 when Greg Wallace and Cody Fick did so against Austin Peay. Pollock leads UE with four homers this season.
Evansville has won six games this season in walk-off style, including last Wednesday’s, 1-0, 11-inning win over Belmont (5/2) in which Eric Stamets drove home Jordan Chavis from second. UE also topped Dayton (4/20), 7-6, in 11-innings after Chris Pearson’s double down the right field line scored Michael Eckstein for the win. UE’s other walk-off wins this spring include UT Martin (3/13), Western Michigan twice (3/16, 3/18), and Indiana State (3/24).
Eric Stamets has been selected as one of 50 Division I shortstops named to the 2012 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award watch list by the College Baseball Hall of Fame. He has started every game of his career, 160 consecutive games, including all 48 this season, batting .304 with 32 runs, 19 RBI, and a team-high 16 doubles. The junior also leads the conference and ranks 23rd in Division I with 25 steals (25-31). With incredible range in the field, Stamets owns a .963 fielding percentage with 77 putouts and league-high 155 assists. Stamets led the Aces to their first conference win of the season with a walk-off RBI single vs. Indiana State (3/24, 3-2 W), and also had the game-winning double in the bottom of the 11th vs. Belmont (5/2, 1-0 W).
Kevin Kaczmarski leads the Aces with a .333 batting average, .488 slugging percentage, .432 on-base percentage, and 32 runs scored, as well as piloting Evansville in Missouri Valley Conference play with a .396 average, .604 slugging percentage, .517 on-base mark, 13 runs, and six doubles as a freshman. Kaczmarski also leads the squad with five triples, needing just one more to break into UE’s single-season top-five record book. The centerfielder has logged 14 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games this season, and belted his first home run of his career versus Dallas Baptist (5/4). Defensively, Kaczmarski owns a perfect fielding percentage in the outfield with 119 putouts and three assists. With great speed in the field as well as on the base paths, Kaczmarski has stolen 12 bases in 14 attempts.
A win versus Austin Peay would give Evansville 28 wins on the season, matching last year’s season total. The Aces are in a good position to improve upon 2011’s 28-25 final record, and give Head Coach Wes Carroll his best finish in his four years at the helm. With eight games remaining before the conference tournament, the Aces need to five wins to match 2010’s 32-win season (32-27).
Senior Jordan Chavis made just his fourth career start last Wednesday versus Belmont, but proved to be one of the biggest playmakers in the extra-inning win. Chavis went 2-for-4 at the plate, representing his first two hits of the season, scored the winning run, and made a putout in right field.
Junior catcher Chris Pearson has caught seven of the last 10 base runners stealing, including four of the last five. Pearson caught the only attempt vs. Belmont and did not allow a stolen base in UE’s last two games against Bradley, gunning down 3-of-3. Pearson co-leads the MVC, throwing out 20-of-38 attempts this season.
It is no secret that small ball is Evansville’s style of play. The Aces lead the MVC with 57 sacrifice bunts this season, rank second in the Valley with 28 sac flies, and rank first in the conference with 78 stolen bases. Jake Mahon co-leads the league with 11 sac bunts and also co-ranks first with Eric Stamets for sac flies, recording seven apiece. Stamets leads the Valley with 25 stolen bases.
Eric Stamets holds sole possession of second place all-time at UE with 95 career steals (95-119) in just his third year of play. Aaron Pembroke (1995-98) holds UE’s record with 106 career steals.
Eric Stamets and Jake Mahon, UE’s first two hitters in the batting order, have been incredibly efficient in bringing in runners, both hitting .813 (13-for-16) when there’s a runner on third with less than two outs. Mahon leads the squad with 33 RBI, while both Mahon and Stamets rank 10th in NCAA Division I with seven sac flies.
When scoring more than two runs in a game, the Aces own a 25-8 record. With two or less, they are 2-13.
Due to last weekend’s games at Dallas Baptist, seniors Trentt Copeland, Jordan Chavis, and Zach Taylor missed the University of Evansville’s Commencement on Saturday. However, UE held a special graduation luncheon and ceremony for the senior baseball and softball seniors and families last Tuesday at Ridgeway University Center. Copeland graduated with a BS in Business Administration, Jordan Chavis a BS in Accounting, and Zach Taylor a MS in Health Services and Administration. Senior Day at Braun Stadium will be Saturday, May 19th vs. Illinois State.
Senior Trentt Copeland became the 24th member of UE’s 206-hit club versus Dayton (4/22) on his first of two hits that day -- an RBI down the left field line in the fourth inning. Copeland enters the weekend with 205 career hits. Eric Stamets is also not too far off from the 200-hit milestone with 192.
Evansville owns a 10-1 record this season on games played on Tuesday or Wednesday. UE is 3-0 on Tuesdays and 7-1 on Wednesdays.
Trentt Copeland continues to move up the career doubles list, now with 56. Copeland sits alone in sixth-place all-time at UE, surpassing Cody Fick’s 55 (2009-11). He needs one more two-bagger to move up another spot. Playing from 1998 to 2001, UE Head Coach Wes Carroll holds the record at Evansville with 74 career doubles.
Kevin Kaczmarski and Jason Hockemeyer co-rank second in the MVC with five triples this season. Kaczmarski recorded one in three consecutive games from 3/18-3/23, another in the series clincher vs. Wichita State (4/14), and one in Sunday’s game vs. Dayton (4/22). Hockemeyer recorded his most recent triple in his 2-for-4 performance in game three at Dallas Baptist (5/5). They both need to belt just one more to tie for fifth in UE’s individual season record book.
Evansville ranks first in the Missouri Valley Conference and 21st in the nation with 78 stolen bases in 102 attempts. Eric Stamets leads the conference and also ranks 23rd in Division I with 25 swiped bags in 31 tries.
In his freshman year in 2010, Eric Stamets set the single-season steals record at Evansville with 43 (43-51). Stealing 27 (27-37) his sophomore year, and already 25 (25-31) this spring, Stamets looks to surpass his second-year total this week.
Three active UE pitchers have recorded complete games in their careers, and they all happen to be left-handed. Sophomore Cole Isom has hurled four, including two this season versus Indiana State (3/23) and Wichita State (4/15). Against ISU, Isom took the tough-luck 2-0 loss, allowing two runs, nine hits, and struck out five, but earned the win versus WSU, throwing a three-hit gem with a career-high 11 punch-outs. Freshman Kyle Freeland recorded a three-hit complete game shutout at Creighton (4/1) with six strikeouts, while Josh Biggs is UE’s only other hurler who has tossed all nine, being done vs. Saint Louis on April 12th, 2011. He allowed four runs, five hits, and stuck out six.
Senior Zach Taylor ranks second all-time at UE with 88 career appearances on the mound. Taylor is only behind Willie Glen’s (1998-01) 97 career appearances.
Evansville’s series win versus Wichita State marks the Aces’ first over the Shockers since the 2006 season. Two weeks ago, the Aces won the series at Creighton, also marking the first time since ’06. That season, Evansville was Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions and won three NCAA Regional Tournament games.
Cole Isom’s 11 strikeouts versus Wichita State (4/13) marked a career-high, a team season-high, and the most since Cody Fick struck out 11 on May 24, 2011, also against the Shockers in the MVC Tournament in Omaha.
Head Coach Wes Carroll recorded his 100th career win versus Indiana State (3/24) in UE’s 3-2 walk-off victory. Carroll has led his squad to above .500 records in each of the last two seasons, going 32-27 in 2010 and 28-25 in 2011, and posted the second-highest victory total by a first-year baseball coach at Evansville with 25 wins in 2009. Carroll, a 2001 Evansville graduate, is in his fourth season at the helm with a 112-103 record.
Co-ranking second in the MVC, sophomore Jake Mahon has been plunked 15 times this year, exceeding his season total in 2011 (12) that marked a team-high last year. In the first 20 games this spring, the sophomore was hit 12 times.
Evansville returns 12-of-13 pitchers from last season and also adds three newcomers to the staff, including Kyle Freeland, a 35th round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Freshman southpaw Kyle Freeland tossed a three-hit complete game shutout in Evansville’s, 1-0, rubber match victory in Omaha, leading UE to its first series victory over Creighton since 2006. Freeland logged six strikeouts, including striking out the side in the third and put an exclamation point on his gem with a punch out to end the game. Despite just a single run of support, Freeland kept the Jays off the board through all nine, throwing a perfect game into the fifth inning and retired the first 14 batters of the contest. The shutout marked Freeland’s first career Valley win, improved his season record to 2-3, while lowering his ERA to 3.82. The performance earned Freeland the MVC Pitcher of the Week (4/2) accolade.
Sophomore Cole Isom’s three-hit, complete-game gem steered Evansville to a 4-1 victory over Wichita State April 13th at Braun Stadium and set up the Aces for their first series win over the Shockers since 2006. The southpaw struck out a career-high 11 batters in his first Valley victory of the season and did not allow a hit until the seventh inning. Isom also had a shutout into the ninth, giving up just a solo shot. In his ninth season appearance, Isom held the Shockers to a .094 batting average and lowered his season earned run average to 3.75. The performance garnered MVC Pitcher of the Week (4/16) honors for Isom.
For the second consecutive year, shortstop Eric Stamets was named to the Missouri Valley Conference preseason all-conference team, voted on by the league’s eight head coaches. Stamets, a junior from Dublin, Ohio, projects to be one of the best shortstops in the nation this year. Last season, Stamets hit .292 with a team-high 51 runs scored and 27 stolen bases. Defensively, he led the Aces with 181 assists and helped the squad to a program-best .977 fielding percentage with a record-low 48 errors as a team. In addition, Stamets turned heads in the summer, playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks and was named a Cape Cod League All-Star. Stamets was a consensus Freshman All-American and the MVC Freshman of the Year in 2010.
The Aces travel to Missouri State over the weekend for a three-game conference series. Game one begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Hammons Field. First pitch Saturday is at 2:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.