Jacks return to Summit tourney
The South Dakota State University baseball team returns to the Summit League Baseball Championship, meeting Western Illinois in first-round action Thursday in Rochester, Mich.
First pitch is scheduled for noon Eastern Time (11 a.m. Central) at OU Baseball Field on the Oakland University campus in Rochester, Mich.
The Jackrabbits, 31-21 overall, are the top seed in the four-team, double-elimination tournament, which concludes Saturday. Western Illinois enters the tournament with an 18-35 overall record.
The tournament schedule is as follows:
Thursday, May 23
• Game 1: No. 1 South Dakota State (31-21) vs. No. 4 Western Illinois (18-35), noon ET
• Game 2: No. 2 Oakland (20-33) vs. No. 3 North Dakota State (24-25), 3 p.m. ET
Friday, May 24
• Game 3: First-round losers, 10 a.m. ET
• Game 4: First-round winners, 1 p.m. ET
• Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 4 p.m. ET
Saturday, May 25
• Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m. ET
• Game 7: Second championship game (if necessary), 4 p.m. ET
All of SDSU’s tournament games will be broadcast live on Brookings-based KJJQ 910 AM and the Jackrabbit Extra subscription service at GoJacks.com, with Tyler Merriam calling the play-by-play. Pre-game coverage begins 15 minutes prior to scheduled first pitch.
The winner of the tournament receives an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA field will be announced at 11 a.m. Monday, with regional action to begin May 31 at 16 locations across the country.
THE SERIES: South Dakota State has compiled a 10-6 record against the rest of the tournament field during the 2013 campaign. The Jackrabbits posted a 3-1 record against Western Illinois during the regular season and a 4-2 mark versus Oakland. SDSU and North Dakota State split their regular season series, 3-3.
All-time series records are as follows:
• vs. Western Illinois, 16-7 — series began in 2006
• vs. Oakland, 16-6 — series began in 2008
• vs. North Dakota State, 98-55 — series began in 1956
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Jackrabbits will be making their fourth trip to the Summit League Baseball Championship in the five seasons they been eligible for postseason play at the Division I level. SDSU reached the championship in each of their three previous appearances, falling to Oral Roberts (Okla.) each time.Overall, SDSU has a 6-6 record in the Summit League baseball championship.
2009 at Tulsa, Okla.
• Southern Utah 11, SDSU 8
• SDSU 7, Centenary (La.) 3 [10 innings]
• SDSU 9, Southern Utah 4
• Oral Roberts 6, SDSU 2
2010 at Tulsa, Okla.
• SDSU 6, Oakland 5 [10 innings]
• Oral Roberts 21, SDSU 6
• SDSU 20, Oakland 6
• Oral Roberts 12, SDSU 2
2011 at Sioux Falls
• SDSU 4, North Dakota State 1
• Oral Roberts 7, SDSU 1
• SDSU 13, North Dakota State 10
• Oral Roberts 5, SDSU 4 [11 innings]
30-WIN SEASONS: The Jackrabbits have turned in their third 30-win season in the last four years and fourth at the Division I level, recording the milestone win with a 6-5 victory at North Dakota State in the second game of a May 14 doubleheader.
SDSU posted its first 30-win season as a Division I member with a 34-19 campaign in 2007. The Jackrabbits then posted back-to-back 30-win campaigns in 2010 and 2011 with respective marks of 39-21 and 37-20, reaching the Summit League tournament title game each season. The 2010 squad tied the record for most wins in a season, which was previously set in both 1993 and 1994.
The Jackrabbits won 30 or more games seven times as a member of NCAA Division II. The 1993 and 1994 squads were part of a string of five consecutive 30-win seasons under coach Mark Ekeland from 1992-96.
BIG INNING: South Dakota State’s 10-run second inning in the first game of a May 14 doubleheader at North Dakota State marked the first time since 2010 that the Jackrabbits posted a double-figure run total in a single inning.
The last time the Jackrabbits scored 10 or more runs in an inning was in the first game of a doubleheader against North Dakota on April 28, 2010, at Erv Huether Field, when SDSU scored 11 runs in the sixth inning en route to a 21-10 victory. It marked the fourth time that month the Jackrabbits tallied at least 10 runs in an inning.
TELFORD NAMED ATHLETE OF THE MONTH: South Dakota State designated hitter Daniel Telford added to his list of awards this week by being named Summit League Male Athlete of the Month for April.
A two-time Summit League Player of the Week selection this season, Telford was on a tear at the plate throughout April. The senior from Newmarket, Ontario, batted .528 (19-for-36) with 16 runs batted in, reaching base in all 11 games he played. He recorded a hit in 10 contests, including six mult-hit and four-multi-RBI games, totaling four doubles, four home runs and a .972 slugging percentage. He ended the month leading The Summit League with five home runs and 28 RBI for the season.
After missing the regular season series at Western Illinois in early May due to injury, Telford returned to the lineup May 11, but had his 12-game hitting streak end in a pinch-hitting appearance. Telford ended the regular season with a .427 batting average (41-for-96) and would be in the top three of The Summit League in all three triple crown categories, trailing Omaha’s Ryan Keele by one in the home run race, 6-5, and two in the runs batted in race, 33-31, but is about 30 at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title.
During his recent 12-game hitting streak, which began with a four-hit game at Northern Colorado on March 30, Telford batted .556 (25-for-45) with four home runs and 21 runs batted in. He had eight multi-hit games in the span, including two four-hit games and a three-hit game. He collected a career-high six RBI in an April 12 win at Fort Wayne and had five other multi-RBI games during his hitting streak.
For the season, Telford has slugged .708 as 14 of his 41 hits have gone for extra bases. He was honored as Summit League Player of the Week on both April 1 and April 15.
MELTON ALSO HONORED: South Dakota State University third baseman Andrew Melton was honored as Summit League Player of the Week each of the first two weeks of the Jackrabbits’ 2013 season.
A senior third baseman from Littleton, Colo., Melton batted .429 (9-for-21) with a .480 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage in two-game series against Waldorf (Iowa), Ohio State and St. Bonaventure (N.Y.). He scored five runs, drove in four runs and tallied three doubles.
Melton followed those performances by batting .500 (5-for-10) as the Jackrabbits won two of three games in a weekend series at Mississippi Valley State. He recorded three hits in the series opener on March 1, then added doubles in both games of a doubleheader on March 3. He scored four runs, drove in one run and posted a .643 on-base percentage with a .700 slugging percentage.
For the season, Melton is batting .267 (43-for-161) with 33 runs scored and 11 doubles, the latter of which ranks in a tie for second on the team.
BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS: With their 3-0 and 5-0 wins over Waldorf (Iowa) to open the season Feb. 18, the Jackrabbits posted consecutive shuouts for the first time in seven years.
The last time SDSU blanked an opponent in back-to-back games was May 2, 2006, when the Jackrabbits defeated Bemidji State (Minn.) 6-0 in both games of a doubleheader at Bob Shelden Field.
The shutouts also propelled the Jackrabbits to their first 2-0 start to a season since 2002, when SDSU swept a twinbill from Dakota Wesleyan. The last time the Jackrabbits began a season with three straight wins was 1999.
FIELDING MARKS: Three members of the Jackrabbit starting infield have moved into the SDSU all-time top 10 in fielding categories in recent weeks.
Senior third baseman Andrew Melton has moved into sole possession of third place for career assists with 363, passing both Doug Sehr (352 assists from 1991-94) and Jesse Sawyer (353 assists from 2009-11) in the series versus Fort Wayne.
Next on the list is Pat Schmidt, who tallied 380 assists from 1992-95.
Fellow senior Daniel Marra moved into 10th place in career assists during action last weekend at Omaha, and enters weekend play with 302 career assists.
A native of Toronto, Ontario, Marra has taken over the starting shortstop duties this season, and has also seen extensive action at third base and second base during his Jackrabbit career.
Junior first baseman Aaron Machbitz has vaulted into eighth place for career putouts with 779. In the past couple weeks, he passed Chris Studer (648 putouts from 1999-2002) for ninth place and then surpassed Josh Guse (663 putouts from 1997-2000) for eighth place in the May 1 game versus Winnipeg.
Seventh place for career putouts currently belongs to Zach Briggs, who tallied 798 putouts from 2009-12.
SOMSEN IN A GROOVE: South Dakota State right-hander Layne Somsen stands among the elite pitchers in all of Division I, ranking in the top 100 of four different statistical categories. A senior from Yankton, Somsen currently holds the following rankings:
• 32nd in hits allowed per nine innings, 6.33;
• 46th in earned run average, 1.91;
• 66th in walks and hits per inning pitched (WHIP), 1.04; and
• 86th in strikeouts per nine innings, 8.72.
In 75 1/3 innings so far this season, Somsen has allowed only 53 hits. He is limiting the opposition to a .202 batting average and only seven of the 53 hits he has allowed have been for extra bases.
Somsen recorded a quality start of at least six innings and three runs or fewer in each of his first 10 starts this season.
In a March 1 start against Mississippi Valley State, Somsen became the fourth Jackrabbit pitcher in the Division I era to tally a dozen strikeouts in a game — and the second to need only seven innings.
Other 12-strikeout performances were turned in by:
• Robby Apo, 12 K’s in nine innings, at North Dakota State, 5-5-2006;
• Caleb Thielber, 12 K’s in nine innings, vs. North Dakota State, 4-19-2009;
• Blake Treinen, 12 K’s in seven innings, vs. Oral Roberts, 5-18-2010 (Game 1).
Somsen turned in another strong outing March 15 at Saint Louis, pitching 8 2/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 Jackrabbit victory. He struck out six batters and walked only one to earn Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors.
Somsen currently ranks in Jackrabbit career top 10s in three categories: starts (fourth, 36); strikeouts (seventh, 162) and innings pitched (seventh, 199.0). His 73 strikeouts this season are the sixth-most in a season by a Jackrabbit pitcher.
As a team, the Jackrabbit pitching staff began the week ranked 77th nationally with a 3.70 team earned run average. SDSU also ranked 67th in strikeouts per nine innings at 7.2
BOUGHER BREAKS RECORDS: Senior right-hander Stephen Bougher established a pair of new Jackrabbit career pitching standards in his May 11 start against Fort Wayne.
A native of Papillion, Neb., Bougher broke both the career starts and innings pitched records in a complete-game effort, and enters the Summit League Baseball Championship with 46 career starts and 282.2 innings pitched. Both marks were previously set by current Minnesota Twins pitcher Caleb Thielbar, who logged 44 career starts and 274 innings from 2006-09.
In compiling a 7-2 record this season, Bougher also moved into a tie for second place in career victories (21) and third in career strikeouts (185). He has a career record of 21-15 in his four years as a Jackrabbit.
With two shutouts this season, Bougher leads the Jackrabbits during the Division I era with five for his career — a total that ranks in a tie for fourth place among active D-I pitchers. He earned Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors following wins over Oakland on April 14 and April 27.
In Summit League play, Bougher won his first five starts, compiling a 5-1 record with a 2.82 ERA and holding the opposition to a .220 batting average.
OTHER PITCHERS MOVE UP: Two Canadian members of the Jackrabbit pitching staff also have moved up the career charts during the 2013 season.
A senior from Vancouver, British Columbia, Shane Kraemer has split his time between a starting role and the bullpen throughout his days as a Jackrabbit. With five starts this season and eight outings out of the bullpen, Kraemer has upped his career appearances total to 64, putting him in a tie for place on the Jackrabbit career charts.
J.D. Moore, a sophomore from Mississauga, Ontario, earned the closer’s role midway through the 2012 season and responded with a team-high five saves. He has recorded a single-season school-record 11 saves in a team-high 21 appearances so far this season, placing him in second place on the SDSU career saves chart with 16. His 11 saves in 2013 broke the Jackrabbit single-season mark of 10 set by All-American Trever Vermeulen in both 2010 and 2011.
Moore has allowed only five runs this season in 23 1/3 innings over his 21 appearances — a 1.93 earned run average. He has struck out 28 batters and is holding the opposition to a .171 batting average.
THIELBAR GETS THE CALL: Former South Dakota State pitcher Caleb Thielbar was called up by the Minnesota Twins on May 20 and made his major league debut, striking out three Atlanta Braves in two shutout innings out of the bullpen. In making his debut, Thielbar became the first former Jackrabbit player in the varsity era — which began in 1947 — to appear in a major league game.
Thielbar entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and allowed one hit before retiring the next three batters. He retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth.
In four seasons (2006-09) at SDSU, Thielbar posted a 20-19 career record while setting the Jackrabbit career records with 274 innings pitched and 44 starts — both of which have been surpassed in 2013 by Stephen Bougher. He also ranks second in career strikeouts with 196 and shares the team single-season record with 100 strikeouts, which he set during his senior campaign.
A native of Randolph, Minn., Thielbar was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 18th round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. He spent two seasons in the Brewers organization before signing with the Twins late in the 2011 campaign after a brief stint with the St. Paul Saints of the independent American Association.
A left-hander, Thielbar earned a spot on Minnesota's 40-man roster following a strong 2012 season in the minor leagues. He began the season at Class A Fort Myers of the Florida State League before making 16 relief appearances at Double-A New Britain (Conn.). He then spent the final three months of the 2012 season at Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.), posting a 3-1 record with one save and a 3.57 earned run average in 25 appearances.
So far in 2013, Thielbar made 17 appearances for Rochester, turning in a 1-1 record with one save and a 3.76 ERA. He struck out 34 batters and walked only eight in 26.1 innings.
JACOBSON STREAK ENDS: Freshman outfielder Paul Jacobson had his team-best 13-game hitting streak end when he went 0-for-4 in a March 30 game at Northern Colorado.
During his streak, which dated back to Feb. 23 against Ohio State, Jacobson batted .340 (16-of-47) with four doubles, eight runs batted in and 14 runs scored. He hit his first career home run as part of a 2-for-4 effort in the series finale at Saint Louis (Mo.) on March 16.
Jacobson, who also had a streak of reaching base safely in 18 consecutive games, is 10-for-12 on stolen base attempts this season to lead the team in steals.
The longest hitting streak by a Jackrabbit player during the Division I era is 19 games by Tyson Fisher in 2006.
COACH SCHRAGE: Veteran baseball coach Dave Schrage (pronounced Schrag) enters his 25th season as a collegiate head coach during the 2013 season. Schrage was hired to take over the reins of the South Dakota State University baseball program on Aug. 8, 2011.
Schrage recorded his 600th career victory on March 19, 2012, when the Jackrabbits recorded an 11-8 victory at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. After posting an 18-33-1 record in his first season at South Dakota State, including a 7-14 mark in The Summit League, Schrage enters the Summit League Baseball Championship with a 645-716-2 career mark. In 24 full seasons as a collegiate head coach, he has averaged more than 25 victories per season, including five campaigns with 32 or more wins. He has coached players who have earned all-conference honors 59 times and 38 of his former student-athletes have gone on to play professionally.
THE ROSTER: The 2013 SDSU baseball roster features 36 players from 10 different states plus three Canadian provinces. Of the 36 players, seven are from South Dakota and five are from Iowa. Colorado, Illinois and Minnesota are represented by four players each. Two Jackrabbit players hail from Nebraska, while Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Washington are represented by one player each.
In addition, six players are from Canada — three from Ontario, two from British Columbia and one from Alberta.
By class, eight are seniors, six are juniors, 12 are sophomores and 10 are freshmen.
A LOOK AHEAD: Should the Jackrabbits win the Summit League Baseball Championship, they will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA field will be announced at 11 a.m. on Memorial Day, with regional action to begin May 31 at 16 locations across the country.