GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The Fighting Sioux baseball team will look to continue their home success this weekend against Houston Baptist as they wind down a 15-game homestand. UND has won eight of 11 at Kraft Field during the stretch and will start a four-game series with the Huskies on Friday at 3 p.m.
Live Stats and Audio: www.FightingSioux.com (Free)
All-time: Houston Baptist leads 9-2
Last meeting: HBU won 7-1 (5/26/11 - GWC Tournament)
UND head coach: Jeff Dodson vs. NYIT 2-9
HBU head coach: Jared Moon vs. UND 9-2
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Game One - Friday, May 11, 3 p.m. CT (Kraft Field)
HBU - RHP Dalton Schafer, Sr. (2-2, 5.75 ERA)
North Dakota - RHP Andrew Thome, Fr. (2-1, 2.66 ERA)
Game Two - Saturday, May 12, 12 p.m. CT (Kraft Field)
HBU - RHP Ryan Lower, So. (1-1, 3.94 ERA)
North Dakota - RHP Tyler Ruemmele, Fr. (0-2, 8.57 ERA)
Game Three - Saturday, May 12, 2 p.m. CT (Kraft Field)
HBU - RHP Ross Kennell, Fr. (3-2, 6.85 ERA)
North Dakota - LHP Ben Clark, Fr. (1-2, 4.68 ERA)
Game Four - Sunday, May 13, 12 p.m. CT (Kraft Field)
HBU - RHP Tyler Hoelscher, Fr. (2-2, 3.78 ERA)
North Dakota - RHP Jeff Campbell, Fr. (2-3, 5.71 ERA)
* Great West stats
IN THE DUGOUT
• Four games separate Houston Baptist (10-10 GWC; tied for fourth) and North Dakota (6-14; tied for sixth) in the Great West Conference standings. Both teams have two four-game series remaining as clubs continue to jockey for seeding at the upcoming GWC Tournament in Orem (May 22-26).
• The Sioux enter the weekend playing their best baseball of the season. Winners of nine of 12 overall, UND is coming off its first GWC series win of the season after taking three of four from NYIT last weekend at Kraft Field.
• The Sioux are 8-5 on their home field this season and will be celebrating Senior Day prior to Sunday’s series finale at Noon. UND will honor five seniors prior to the game: left-hander Kevin Auth (Cambridge, Minn.), third baseman Kyle Bolander (Hermantown, Minn.) outfielder Seth Means (Gillette, Wyo.), infielder Dan Ross (Brookly Park, Minn.) and right-hander Zac Salfer (Sleepy Eye, Minn.).
• UND also posted a dramatic 9-8 non-conference win on Tuesday, knocking off South Dakota State with a three-run rally in the ninth that saw the winning run score on a wild pitch.
• That win coupled with two wins to close out the series with the Bears has equaled their longest winning streak of the season and DI era at three games.
• Freshman Andrew Thome (St. Cloud, Minn.) tossed his second straight shutout in GWC play in Friday’s opener, holding the Bears to just three hits and striking out 11 (UND DivisionI record). He became the first freshman in Division I to throw a pair of nine-inning shutouts this season.
• Thome lowered his ERA in GWC games to 2.66 after the gem, which ranks him third among league starters.
• The complete game was also his fourth of the year, which is tops in the GWC along with freshman Jeff Campbell (Clearwater, Fla.) and NYIT’s Ryan Dillabough.
• Campbell logged his fourth in Sunday’s series finale, holding the Bears to just two earned runs on five hits, while equaling his season high with seven strikeouts.
• The two-way player also homered in the first three games of the series and hit .429 in the four games. His three home runs pushed his season total to 11, which is the most by a freshman in DI this year and second in the GWC behind Utah Valley’s Goose Kallunki.
• Nine of those home runs have come in league play and to put that number in perspective, HBU only has four as a team in 20 GWC games.
• Fellow freshman Tyler Follis (Bemidji, Minn.) also ranks towards the top among DI freshman in a couple of categories. Follis’ .388 batting average entering the HBU series trails only Miami of Ohio’s Matt Honchel (.387) and his .464 on-base percentage was only behind Southern Miss rookie Michael Sterling (.470).
• Follis broke out of a mini 0-for-12 slump by singling in his last at-bat in game two of the NYIT series. He has hit safely in four straight, going 9-for-15 (.600) in those contests. He went 4-for-5 with a career-high four RBI in the series finale with NYIT.
• At home this season, Follis has 26 hits, 19 runs and 12 RBI in 14 games. His .473 batting average in those games is tops on the team.
• Left-hander Ben Clark (White Bear Lake, Minn.) picked up his first collegiate win in Saturday’s night cap with NYIT. Clark went a season-long 7.2 innings, allowing only two earned runs on six hits.
• Bolander has been swinging a hot bat at home as well. He is hitting .442 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 15 home games.
• In Tuesday’s win over SDSU, Bolander had three hits and a career-high four RBI, including a three-run homer and a ninth-inning single that sparked the three-run, two-out rally.
• Means has hit safely in four straight (7-for-16, .438) to post his longest hitting streak of the season. He had his second three-hit game of the season on Tuesday in the win over SDSU and scored the game-winning run on wild pitch.
• Freshman Sam Alt (Lino Lakes, Minn.) kept the two-out rally going on Tuesday with a RBI-single that tied the game at 8-8. Alt currently owns the longest hitting streak on the team at eight games (13-for-34; .382). He had two hits against the Jacks, which was his third straight multiple-hit game.
• 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.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
HBU head coach Jared Moon has his Huskies at .500 in league play through five series. The team is 10-10, but coming off a weekend where they were swept by league-leading Utah Valley. However, the Huskies provided the stiffest test for the 20-0 Wolverines as only one game was decided by more than two runs.
Offensively, shortstop Josh Foust has been the team’s top hitter in GWC play. He holds a .394 average in 20 starts. The Huskies’ top run-producer has been centerfielder Jake Gonzalez. The versatile player has 28 RBI in GWC games and leads the team with 45 overall.
Senior Dillon Schafer has been an innings-eater for the Huskies this season. He leads GWC pitchers with 86.1 innings pitched and is 4-6 overall with a 5.11 ERA. Freshman Tyler Hoelscher has been the most consistent among Moon’s hurlers. He owns a 3.78 ERA in GWC play and a 3.32 ERA overall.
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.