GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The Fighting Sioux will open their 2012 Great West Confererence season at the same place they will end it - Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, Utah. UND will open its third season of GWC action with a four-game sereis at Utah Valley, then return in late May when the Wolverines host the postseason tournament.
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All-time: UVU leads 6-0
At Brent Brown Ballpark: UVU leads 4-0
Last meeting: UVU won 3-2 (10) (May 26, 2011; Grand Forks, N.D.)
UND head coach Jeff Dodson vs. UVU: 0-6
Utah Valley head coach Eric Madsen vs. UND: 6-0
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Game One - Thursday, April 5, 6 p.m. MT (Brent Brown Ballpark)
North Dakota - RHP Andrew Thome, Fr. (0-4, 6.91 ERA)
Utah Valley - RHP Preston Olson, Sr. (3-0, 2.12 ERA)
Game Two - Friday, April 6, 4 p.m. MT (Brent Brown Ballpark)
North Dakota - RHP Jeff Campbell, Fr. (1-3, 7.40 ERA)
Utah Valley - RHP Blake Krahenbuhl, Jr. (1-3, 7.02 ERA)
Game Three - Friday, April 6, 6 p.m. MT (Brent Brown Ballpark)
North Dakota - RHP Tyler Ruemmele, Fr. (0-3, 18.00 ERA)
Utah Valley - RHP Adam Gunn, Jr. (3-3, 4.75 ERA)
Game Four - Saturday, April 7, 1 p.m. MT (Brent Brown Ballpark)
North Dakota - RHP Brett DeGagne’, Fr. (0-2, 8.00 ERA)
Utah Valley - RHP Devin Nelson, So. (0-0, 9.64 ERA)
IN THE DUGOUT
• This is the second time in three seasons that the Sioux open GWC play in the Beehive State. The teams played their inaugural GWC series in 2010 at Brent Brown Ballpark. UVU swept that four-game set, outscoring UND 42-23.
• The Fighting Sioux and Wolverines met only once last season after their four-game series in Grand Forks was cancelled due to a mid-April snow storm.
• Utah Valley returned to Grand Forks for the GWC Tournament and won the only matchup 3-2 in what was a semifinal game at Kraft Field. The Wolverines went on to capture their second straight GWC Tournament crown, while UND took third.
• Four current offensive players have at-bats against the Wolverines. Junior Kris Kwak (Maple Grove, Minn.) is 2-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI. Sophomore Zack Trygstad (Wayzata, Minn.) is 1-for-4 with a RBI. Senior Daniel Ross (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) is 0-for-3, while junior Riley Beck (Munich, N.D.) is 1-for-3.
• Kwak and left-hander Kevin Auth are the only two hurlers on the roster that have faced the Wolverines. Auth has logged 2.1 innings, allowing five earned runs, while Kwak only worked a third of an inning as a freshman in 2010.
• The Wolverines were picked to win their third straight GWC regular season title in the preseason coaches’ poll. UND was picked to finish seventh.
• After going 1-for-12 in the four-game set at Wichita State, freshman Tyler Follis has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games. He is batting .400 (20-for-50) during that stretch.
• Follis leads the team with six doubles and six multiple-hit games. He missed the opening game of the NDSU series, but returned as a pinch-hitter in game two and started games three and four. Follis went 3-for-5 with a run scored in the series finale. It was his team-leading third three-hit game of the season.
• Right-hander Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) is the reigning Great West Conference Pitcher of the Week after tossing his first career complete game against North Dakota State on March 30. Thome was the tough-luck loser, allowing only an uneared run in a 1-0 loss. He struck out a career-high six and allowed five hits.
• Freshman Jeff Campbell shares the team lead with six extra-base hits (five doubles and a triple) and seven RBI. He is the only player to start all 18 games for the Sioux this season. Four of those have come on the mound, 11 at first base and three at DH.
• Campbell picked his first collegiate victory after a tossing a complete game in a 4-1 win over Creighton on March 16. Campbell allowed only an unearned run on six hits, while striking out four Bluejays.
• Thome and Campbell lead the team with 28.2 and 24.1 innings pitched, respectively.
• Freshman Brett DeGagne’ (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) will get his first career start in Saturday’s series finale. DeGagne’ went a season-long six innings in relief on Sunday in the finale with the Bison. The right-hander gave up three hits and two runs in the ninth, but had allowed only two hits in his first five innings of work.
• Redshirt freshman Mark Bearmon (St. Louis Park, Minn.) and Beck hit safely in the final three games of the NDSU series. Bearmon came through with a big two-out, RBI-single that gave UND its first lead of the series at 3-2 in the seventh inning of Sunday’s series finale.
• Earlier in the season, the Sioux registered a 12-9 victory over Kansas, which was the first for UND against a BCS Conference program since beginning the transition to Division I in 2009.
• In the triumph over the Jayhawks, Bolander went 4-for-4 with a career-high three RBI. It was the first four-hit game of his career as well as he reached base safely in all five of his plate-appearances.
• Redshirt freshman Brock Johnson (Detroit Lakes, Minn.) picked up his first collegiate win in that contest, working two scoreless innings and striking out a pair of Jayhawks. He has allowed only three earned runs in seven relief appearances.
• Johnson shares the team lead in appearances with classmate Alex Twenge (Minnetonka, Minn). The right-hander leads all Sioux relievers with 11 strikeouts.
• Fourth-year head coach Jeff Dodson’s 27-man roster is filled with 10 returning letterwinners, three redshirt freshmen and 14 newcomers (11 true freshmen). Two of those 14 newcomers will be sitting out due to NCAA transfer rules.
• The Sioux were scheduled to play their first 26 games this season on the road, but that changed when the NDSU series shifted back to home sites. Friday’s home opener cut the season-opening road stretch down to 14 games.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
Utah Valley has won the previous two Great West Conference regular season and tournament titles and were selected by the league’s head coaches to finish off the three-peat in 2012. The Sioux will miss UVU ace Jeremy Gendlek this weekend as the right-hander is pitching Wednesday against No. 4 Arizona.
Gendlek was the GWC Pitcher of the Year in 2011 after going 7-3 with a 1.71 ERA. Senior Josh Swenson is back in his closer’s role - he has three saves already in 2012 after registering six a season ago. Senior Preston Olson will start Thursday’s series opener. He is 3-0 on the season with a 2.12 ERA.
Offensively, senior shortstop Kai Hatch leads the team with a .352 batting average. Designated hitter Austin Heaps, who is the reigning GWC Player of the Week, leads the team with three home runs and 24 RBI. The Wolverines have seven regulars batting over .300 on the season.
GLANCE AT THE GREAT WEST
The Fighting Sioux will be embarking on their third season in Great West Conference play in 2012. Utah Valley won the league’s inaugural regular season and tournament titles in 2010 and 2011. The conference season will culminate in Orem, Utah with the GWC Tournament May 22-26 at Brent Brown Ballpark.
The other six members of the league are Chicago State, Houston Baptist, New York Tech, NJIT, Northern Colorado and Texas-Pan American. The Great West is the second conference affiliation for UND in program history. UND spent its Division II years playing in the North Central Conference. New York Tech and Northern Colorado are associate members for baseball.