With the regular season quickly coming to a close, the University of Evansville baseball team looks to gain as much momentum as possible in the final week heading into the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Currently in fourth place, the Aces will take a quick non-conference break Tuesday, traveling to face Indiana University, before hosting Illinois State in the last MVC series of the year. First pitch Tuesday is set for 2:00 p.m. CT (3:00 p.m. ET) in Bloomington.
Evansville comes off a huge series win at Missouri State that featured three spectacular pitching duels. After falling 2-0 Friday night, the Aces rallied to win 3-1 and1-0 in games two and three, led by hurlers Kyle Lloyd and Kyle Freeland. UE lowered its ERA to 4.07 on the season and raised its fielding percentage to a NCAA Division I-best .981, going without an error in that last four games. Offensively, Eric Stamets leads the team with a .325 average, 17 doubles, and 29 stolen bases (29-36). Freshman Kevin Kaczmarski (.320) and junior Jason Hockemeyer (.302) also boast an above .300 average, while sophomore Jake Mahon leads the squad with 35 RBI.
Evansville and Indiana split last year’s home-and-home series that spanned two days and was interrupted by rain. With the score tied 1-1 at Braun Stadium on March 26th, rain forced the contest to be postponed entering the fifth inning. The next day, UE bussed to Bloomington and picked up the game where they left off. The Aces took a 5-4 lead into the final two outs of the ninth, but IU tied it up on Dutin Demuth’s double down the left field line. The Hoosiers then scored a run in the 10th inning to steal a 6-5 win in game one. In the nightcap, UE bounced back to win game two 7-5, recording 16 hits. The Aces jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second, and held the lead the entire way despite the Hoosiers’ four-run rally in the seventh. IU leads the all-time series 23-15.
The Week Ahead
5/15 at Indiana, 2:00 p.m.
5/17 vs. Illinois State, 6:00 p.m.
5/18 vs. Illinois State, 6:00 p.m.
5/19 vs. Illinois State, 1:00 p.m. (Senior Day)
5/22-25 at State Farm MVC Tournament
Freshman Kyle Freeland out-dueled Baseball America’s top prospect of the MVC and foiled the league’s top conference hitting team, as he tossed a complete game, one-hit shutout with a career-high 11 strikeouts in Evansville’s 1-0 rubber match victory over Missouri State. Freeland had a no-hitter going into the ninth inning, and limited MSU to just three base runners in the game, facing 29 batters. From the second to the eighth, the southpaw sat down 17 consecutive Bears, and had six perfect sides in his fourth win of the season and second complete game shutout in Valley play.
Junior Eric Stamets led Evansville with a .563 batting average on the week with nine hits, reaching the 200 career hit milestone. Leading UE to a 12-1 win over Austin Peay, Stamets went 4-for-6 at the plate with an RBI, double, three runs scored, while going 3-for-3 on the base paths. The Dublin, Ohio native logged a hit in every game of the Missouri State series, including a 3-for-4 performance in game two with a stolen base that marked the 99th of his career and 29th this spring, while scoring the go-ahead run in the victory. In the rubber match win, Stamets went 1-for-3 and executed the sacrifice bunt that led to the game-winning run in the ninth. At shortstop, Stamets has now started in 164 straight games and was perfect last week with 18 assists and six putouts. Extending his hit-streak as well as consecutive games without a strikeout to five, Stamets also raised his season average to a team-best .325 on the season.
Capturing the 30th win of the season Sunday in UE’s 1-0 victory over Missouri State, head coach Wes Carroll has guaranteed himself his third consecutive winning season. 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 115-104 record. He recorded his 100th career win versus Indiana State (3/24) in UE’s 3-2 walk-off victory.
Over the weekend, junior Eric Stamets became the 25th Purple Ace in program history to reach the 200 career hit milestone, attaining the mark with his third hit of the afternoon in UE’s 3-1 win over Missouri State (5/12). In that same at-bat he also stole his 99th career base (99-124). With one more, Stamets will become just the second Ace in history to hit the 100 stolen bases milestone. He sits only behind Aaron Pembroke (1995-98) who holds UE’s record with 106 career steals.
Evansville and Missouri State dueled on the mound all weekend, as the teams combined for only seven runs total in three games. The Aces’ pitching staff posted a 1.04 ERA in the series, allowing just three runs and 12 hits, while striking out 18. Cole Isom and Kyle Freeland both went the distance, while Kyle Lloyd tossed eight strong before Josh Biggs closed the game-two win, as UE used just four arms total on the weekend. All three contests were completed in less than two hours.
The Aces rank first in the nation with a .981 fielding percentage. As a team, Evansville has committed only 37 errors this season with 1,381 putouts and 515 assists. UE has not made an error in the last four consecutive games.
Freshman Kyle Pollock was the hero offensively for Evansville in the 1-0 rubber match win over MSU (5/13), driving home sophomore Tim Bodine from third with two outs in the top of the ninth. Bodine hustled out an infield grounder to lead off the frame, moved to second on Eric Stamets’ sacrifice bunt, and advanced to third on Jake Mahon’s groundout to second.
Logging an all-around team victory last Wednesday night at Braun Stadium, UE recorded a season-high 18 hits en route to a 12-1 win over Austin Peay. The Aces scored in every inning except the first as eight-of-nine players in the lineup tallied hits, including five multi-hit performances.
Eric Stamets led Evansville with a 4-for-6 night, an RBI, three runs scored, and three stolen bases. Jason Hockemeyer also had a stellar game, belting his first home run in a Purple Aces uniform, and finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-5 with a team-high three RBI. Chris Pearson (3-for-4) and John Day (3-for-3) were also huge contributors each with an RBI and run scored, while Jake Mahon finished 2-for-2 with one RBI and two runs scored.
Sophomore Ryan Billo earned the win on the mound, improving his record to an outstanding 8-1 mark. Billo threw six innings, allowing just a solo home run, three hits, two walks, while striking out five. The Aces bullpen was a good as it gets, holding the Governors hitless and without a run through the final three innings. Jake Naumann, Zach Taylor, and Josh Biggs each hurled a frame and recorded a strikeout in the victory.
Midweek starter sophomore Ryan Billo has been masterful on the mound this season, leading the team with an 8-1 record and 2.19 ERA in 11 starts. Prior to last Wednesday’s solid outing versus APSU, 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.
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.
Sunday’s, 1-0, shutout against Missouri State marked the Aces’ fourth shutout this season. The Aces have also been shut out four times 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 their most recent, 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, 164 consecutive games, including all 52 this season, batting .325 with 36 runs, 20 RBI, and a team-high 17 doubles. The junior also leads the conference and ranks 23rd in Division I with 29 steals (29-36). With incredible range in the field, Stamets owns a .966 fielding percentage with 83 putouts and league-high 173 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).
Junior catcher Chris Pearson has caught six of the last seven base runners stealing, as well as nine of the last 12. Pearson co-leads the MVC, throwing out 22-of-60 attempts this season.
It is no secret that small ball is Evansville’s style of play. The Aces lead the MVC with 62 sacrifice bunts this season, rank second in the Valley with 30 sac flies, and rank first in the conference with 84 stolen bases. Jake Mahon co-leads the league with 12 sac bunts and also co-ranks first with Eric Stamets for sac flies, recording seven apiece. Stamets leads the Valley with 29 stolen bases.
When scoring more than two runs in a game, the Aces own a 27-8 record. With two or less, they are 3-14.
Due to games at Dallas Baptist, seniors Trentt Copeland, Jordan Chavis, and Zach Taylor missed the University of Evansville’s Commencement on May 5th. However, UE held a special graduation luncheon and ceremony for the senior baseball and softball seniors and families on May 1st 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. Eric Stamets followed suit at Missouri State (5/13), hitting the 200-hit mark with on his third single of the game in the eighth, becoming the 25th Purple Ace to do so.
Evansville owns an 11-1 record this season on games played on Tuesday or Wednesday. UE is 3-0 on Tuesdays and 8-1 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 third 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 84 stolen bases in 110 attempts. In their most recent midweek game vs. APSU, UE went 5-for-5 on the base paths. Eric Stamets leads the conference and also ranks 18th in Division I with 29 swiped bags in 36 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, Stamets surpassed his second-year total vs. APSU (5/9) when he stole three bases successfully against the Govs.
Three active UE pitchers have recorded complete games in their careers, and they all happen to be left-handed. Sophomore Cole Isom has hurled five, including three this season versus Missouri State (5/11), 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 one-hit shutout in UE’s 1-0 victory at Missouri State, striking out a career-high 11. Freeland also threw a three-hit complete game shutout at Creighton (4/1) with six strikeouts. 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 89 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 prior to that, 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.
Co-ranking second in the MVC, sophomore Jake Mahon has been plunked 18 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 close the regular season at home versus Illinois State with a three-game Valley series. Game one begins Thursday at 6:00 p.m.