Missouri Valley Conference baseball teams opened the 2013 season last weekend, combining for an 11-14 record. Creighton was the lone league team to finish the weekend with an unscathed record, as the Bluejays swept Dallas Baptist in a three-game road series.
The league went 5-2 versus 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, including three wins over Dallas Baptist (Creighton) and one win each over Sam Houston State (Missouri State) and UAB (Southern Illinois).
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Creighton's Alex Staehely and Missouri State's Cody Schumacher, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alex Staehely, Sr., SS, Creighton
Staehely led Creighton to a series sweep of Dallas Baptist, finishing the three-game series 7-for-13 (.538). Staehely led the Jays with six RBI, two doubles and a .692 slugging percentage as well as a .800 on-base percentage. The senior delivered critical RBI in each contest. On Friday night, Staehely gave Creighton a 2-1 lead with an RBI single to center. Saturday he cleared the bases with a three-run double to tie the score at 6-6 and in the series finale the Sugar Grove, Ill., native punched in two of the Bluejays’ three runs. Staehely gave Creighton a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth on Sunday, then provided an insurance run in the eighth with an RBI double. Staehely’s efforts helped Creighton sweep DBU at home, the first time since 2010 that the Patriots had been swept at home. Dallas Baptist had lost 3 or less home games in a season in five of the past nine years.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Cody Schumacher, Sr., RHP, Missouri State
Schumacher matched a career high with nine strikeouts while allowing just one run on six hits in the Bears’ 3-2 victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday. The senior right-hander followed up a strong opening day effort from the MSU staff with seven solid innings against SHSU, a 2012 NCAA Regional participant, walking just one on the night and striking out six of the first 10 hitters he faced to allow his club time to build a 3-0 lead. The victory—Schumacher’s ninth in 10 career decisions--handed the Bears their first 2-0 start to a season since 2008.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Mike Tauchman (BU) - Tauchman carried over his all-star summer in the Coastal Plain League to the opening weekend of the college baseball season by batting .500 (6-12) with a double and two stolen bases. Tauchman, who also drew a walk in the 3-game set at Arkansas State, enjoyed a .538 on-base percentage for the weekend. A .311 career hitter during his first three seasons at Bradley, Tauchman was a first-team midseason and postseason all-star in the Coastal Plain League this past summer after batting .351 and leading the league with 35 stolen bases.
Kevin Kaczmarski (UE) - Kaczmarski extended his on-base streak to 22 games, collecting 5 hits in 12 at-bats for a .417 average. The redshirt sophomore also scored three runs, legged out three doubles and stole two bases in as many chances. Kaczmarski recorded multiple hits in the Purple Aces’ first two games, going 2-for-3 in the opener and 2-for-5 in the second game of the series, before wrapping up the weekend with a 1-for-4 effort in the rubber match.
Zac Johnson (ILS) - Johnson paced the Illinois State offense all weekend, batting .385/.429/.615 with one home run, three RBI and eight total bases to lead the Redbirds in each of those categories. The Bloomington, Ill., native collected two hits and drove in one run on Friday. Saturday, Johnson went 3-4 with a two-run home run to guide ISU to a 7-4 win at Memphis. He reached base four times and scored two runs. Defensively, Johnson was error-free with three starts at third base and made a 5-2 putout to preserve a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th inning at Memphis.
Matt Jones (SIU) - In his first series with the Salukis, Matt Jones led the team at the plate, hitting .462 in three games at UAB. The junior went 3-for-3 with a double and drove in SIU’s only run of the day in Sunday’s finale. In addition, Jones threw out two attempted base stealers over the weekend.
Mark Winkelman (CU) - Winkelman made two appearances out of the bullpen during the weekend series at Dallas Baptist, tossing 5.2 innings. He allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks in his two appearance. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Winkelman came on with runners at first and second and just one out. Winkelman worked out of the jam by inducing a force out and retiring former Husker Boomer Collins on strikes to end the threat. Winkelman allowed just four hits and two walks in 4.2 innings, recording three strikeouts to earn the victory (1-0) on Sunday.
Kyle Freeland (UE) - Freeland spun a gem to earn the win in Evansville’s season opener, going 7.0 innings and allowing just one run on five hits, while striking out eight. The sophomore southpaw allowed just one extra base hit and outdueled the Sun Belt’s Preseason Pitcher of the Year Chance Cleveland to earn the victory. Freeland faced just one over the minimum through five innings, before Arkansas-Little Rock was able to manufacture a run on a pair of hits in the sixth.
Brad Sorkin (ILS) - Sorkin earned his first victory of the season pitching Illinois State to a season-opening victory at Memphis Friday. The Buffalo Grove, Ill., native allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings as Illinois State defeated Memphis, 5-2. Sorkin struck out six batters and issued no walks. The victory was the 13th of his career.
Cody Forsythe (SIU) - Forsythe tossed five scoreless innings in his season debut against UAB. Although he received no run support, the senior struck out three batters and left a scoreless game. Forsythe allowed just one extra-base hit in the game. It was his 35th career start, moving him into 10th place on SIU’s career list.