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Aces Head South for Three-Game Set with Mercer

February 21, 2014


DATES:  February 21-23
TIMES:  3:00 p.m.  |  1:00 p.m.  |  12:00 p.m.
LOCATION:  Macon, Ga. (Claude Smith Field)
Live Stats
NOTES:  Evansville

FRIDAY:  Kyle Freeland, Jr., LHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Brandon Barker, Sr., RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA)
SATURDAY:  Connor Strain, So., RHP (0-0, 9.82 ERA) vs. Grant Papelian, Jr., LHP (0-0, 1.93 ERA)
SUNDAY:  Cole Isom, Sr., LHP (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Eric Nyquist, Jr., RHP (1-0, 1.59 ERA)

After opening its season with a three-game sweep of Lipscomb last weekend, the University of Evansville baseball team will take its 3-0 record to Macon, Ga., this weekend for a three-game set with Mercer at Claude Smith Field.  The Aces and Bears will open the series Friday at 3 p.m., and are slated to play Saturday at 1 p.m., before Sunday's series finale scheduled for 12 p.m.
Evansville (3-0) opened its season with three-straight wins for the first time since 2006 last weekend by taking all three games in its series at Lipscomb in Nashville, Tenn.  The Aces opened the series with an 8-2 victory Saturday, before topping the Bisons, 10-7 and 3-2, in Sunday's doubleheader. 
Junior Kyle Pollock led the UE offensive last weekend by going 7-for-14 at the plate with a triple and a team-high five RBI.  Fellow junior Kevin Kaczmarski finished the series with five hits, including a pair of doubles and a triple, three RBI and three runs scored.  Sophomore Josh Jyawook posted a .571 on-base percentage in the season-opening series by going 3-for-9 with five walks and four RBI.
As a team, Evansville hit .248 as a squad, but posted a .403 on-base percentage, as the Aces combined to coax 26 walks and were a perfect 12-for-12 in the stolen base department.  Of UE's 26 hits, 10 went for extra bases, with eight of them being doubles.
On the mound, Evansville's staff posted a 3.33 ERA, allowing 10 earned runs in 27.0 innings.  The Aces' bullpen combined for a 1.46 ERA, as UE relievers picked up two of Evansville's three pitching wins and allowed just two earned runs in 12.1 innings of relief.  Senior Tyler Miller and junior Matt Rodgers both earned victories out of the pen, while senior Sam Johns and sophomore Brent Jurceka each tallied saves.
Junior Kyle Freeland, sophomore Connor Strain and senior Cole Isom are slated to comprise the Aces' starting rotation this weekend.  Freeland earned the win last Friday by allowing just two runs in 5.0 innings with six strikeouts.  Strain surrendered four runs in 3.2 innings of work, as he issued five walks and tallied a pair of strikeouts.  Isom turned in a quality start in Sunday's series finale, as he scattered seven hits over 6.0 innings, allowing just two runs, while notching a strikeout.
Mercer (5-0) enters the weekend with an unblemished 5-0 record, as the Bears swept High Point in a three-game series last weekend, before taking both games of a two-game, midweek set with Florida A&M.
The Bears, who finished 43-18 and earned a No. 3 seed in the Starkville Regional last season, are currently hitting .283 as a squad with seven home runs and a .472 slugging percentage.  MU has outscored its opponents, 36-15, in its first five contests and has stolen six bases in nine attempts.  Mercer has drawn 21 walks against 27 strikeouts and has committed seven errors for a .964 fielding percentage.
Nate Moorhouse leads the Bears offensively with a .500 average (4-for-8), while Nick Backlund has posted a .421 average (8-for-19) with four extra-base hits and five RBI.  Sasha LaGarde and Devin Bonin have each driven in a team-best six runs apiece, as LaGarde has blasted three homers and scored six runs in his first 19 at bats of the year. 
Mercer's pitching staff has combined for a 2.20 ERA, allowing just 11 earned runs in 45.0 innings of work and a 42:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  The Bears are limiting opposing hitters to a .267 batting average and have allowed just seven hits to go for extra bases.
Friday's starter Brandon Barker earned a win in his first start of the year, as he went 5.0 innings, allowing two runs on five hits with six strikeouts.  Grant Papelian, who is scheduled to start Saturday, lasted 4.2 innings in his first outing, allowing just one run on six hits, while recording one punch out.  Sunday's scheduled starter, Eric Nyquist, is 1-0 in his lone start, after allowing just one run on four this over 5.2 frames against High Point last weekend.
Evansville and Mercer have met eight previous times on the diamond, with each side capturing four wins.  The last time the Aces and Bears met was in 2010, when they split a four-game series in Macon, Ga.

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