Evansville Set to Host Illinois State for Pivotal MVC Series
May 9, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
DATES: May 9-11
TIMES: 6:00 p.m. | 6:00 p.m. | 1:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Evansville, Ind. (Braun Stadium)
MEDIA CENTER: Live Video (Fri. & Sun.) | Live Audio | Live Stats
NOTES: Evansville | Illinois State
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS (UE STARTER LISTED FIRST)
FRIDAY: Kyle Freeland, Jr., LHP (8-1, 1.90 ERA) vs. Dan Savas, RJr., RHP (7-3, 1.64 ERA)
SATURDAY: Cole Isom, Sr., LHP (5-4, 3.50 ERA) vs. Dylan Craig, RSo., LHP (5-1, 2.32 ERA)
SUNDAY: TBA vs. Jeremy Rhoades, Jr., LHP (6-3, 2.22 ERA)
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The University of Evansville baseball team will host Illinois State this weekend at Braun Stadium in a pivotal Missouri Valley Conference series sponsored by the Dunn Hospitality Group beginning Friday at 6 p.m. In a matchup that will feature the top two teams in the MVC standings, the Purple Aces will enter the three-game set with a one-game lead over the Redbirds.
Evansville (30-17, 11-4 MVC) defeated Southern Illinois in two of three games last weekend in Valley play, before suffering a midweek setback to Belmont Wednesday evening. Junior Kyle Pollock led the Aces at SIU by going 6-for-14 in the series with four RBI, including a solo home run Friday night. Fellow junior Jarod Perry hit an even .300 by going 3-for-10 with a pair of runs scored and sophomore Josh Jyawook provided three RBI on three hits in the series.
The Aces enter the series with the Valley's top batting average at .284 and are slugging .383 with 93 doubles, 11 triples and 14 home runs. In addition, UE owns a .381 on-base percentage, .969 fielding percentage and has stolen 45 bases in 63 chances. Jyawook leads the club with a .314 average and is one of four Evansville starters hitting over the .300 mark. Junior Kevin Kaczmarski boasts a .309 average and has been the team's top power threat as he leads the conference with 47 RBI on 18 doubles, five triples and four homers for a team-best .521 slugging percentage. Pollock has posted a .305 average on the season with 12 doubles, three triples and four long balls, and ranks third in the conference with 44 RBI, while sophomore Eric McKibban is hitting .301 and ranks second on the club with a .412 on-base percentage.
On the mound, Evansville has combined for a 4.21 ERA with 338 strikeouts, 147 walks and a .272 opposing batting average in 408.2 innings. Junior southpaw Kyle Freeland leads the staff with an 8-1 record and 1.90 ERA. The Denver, Colo., native has been one of the country's top pitchers this season, as he enters the series ranked third in the country with 106 strikeouts against just seven walks, for the nation's second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio at 15.14. Freeland has logged a team-high 80.2 innings and is holding opponents to a .223 batting average. Senior Cole Isom is slated to get the ball for Evansville on Saturday and sports a 5-4 record with a 3.50 ERA to go with 31 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. In Valley play, Isom is 4-1 in his five starts with a 2.32 ERA and a .221 opposing batting average.
Out of the bullpen, closer Sam Johns is tied for the league lead with nine saves with 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of relief. Sophomore Brent Jurceka has made 20 appearances out of the Aces' bullpen and has accumulated 48 strikeouts in 44.0 innings with a .223 opposing average.
Illinois State (30-15, 10-5 MVC) dropped the first two games of its series at Western Illinois last weekend, 2-1 and 13-12, before rebounding with a resounding 22-4 victory Sunday afternoon. The Redbirds tallied 14 runs in the seventh inning en route to the run-rule win in the series finale.
ISU is hitting .282 as a team with 80 doubles, 15 triples and 20 home runs for a .392 slugging percentage. Illinois State is reaching base at a .392 clip with 46 stolen bases and a .963 fielding percentage. Paul DeJong leads the Redbirds with a .374 batting average, 18 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 43 RBI and a .642 slugging percentage. DeJong ranks second in the Valley in both batting average and slugging percentage, behind only Wichita State's Casey Gillaspie. Mike Hollenbeck is hitting an impressive .370 with 37 RBI, while Daniel Dwyer owns a .326 average with 30 RBI and 36 runs scored. Joe Kelch boasts a .302 batting average, while Sean Beesley has scored a team-best 42 runs and leads the MVC with 27 stolen bases.
Illinois State's pitching staff owns the league's second-best ERA at 3.13 and leads the country in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.5. The Redbirds have racked up 414 strikeouts against 171 walks and is limiting opponents to a .235 batting average in 391.1 innings. Friday night starter Dan Savas is 7-3 on the year and leads the staff with a 1.63 ERA. Savas has recorded 78 strikeouts and 24 walks in 82.1 innings of work and ranks fourth in the Valley with a .203 opposing batting average. Dylan Craig, who is slated to start Saturday, enters the series 5-1 with a 2.32 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73.2 frames. Sunday starter Jeremy Rhoades is 6-3 with a 2.22 ERA and has racked up a team-best 79 strikeouts in his previous seven starts.
David Suarez leads Illinois State's bullpen with a 1.57 ERA, as he has allowed just five earned runs in 28.2 innings in his 17 relief appearances with 33 strikeouts and three saves. Ben Hecht has made 16 relief outings, logging 19.1 innings with a 1.86 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
Illinois State leads the all-time series with Evansville, 58-41-1, and defeated the Aces three times in four meetings last season. Since 1995, the Redbirds lead the series, 38-31, and are 12-11 against UE at Braun Stadium.