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April 29, 2004

USI baseball needs big weekend and some help from its friends

The University of Southern Indiana baseball team needs to have a big weekend at Northern Kentucky University (plus a little help) to have an opportunity to appear in the GLVC Tournament for the first time since 2001. USI will start the weekend with a 23-29 overall record and a 17-19 mark in the GLVC.

The USI-NKU showdown in Highland Heights, Kentucky, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 1-2. The first pitch each day is scheduled for noon.

The Screaming Eagles enters this weekend’s action 1.5 games behind Saint Joseph’s College (23-25 overall, 17-17 GLVC), who swept a doubleheader from Lewis University Wednesday. The victories moved the Pumas into sixth and ahead of the Eagles.

Despite entering the final regular season weekend in seventh, the Eagles still have an opportunity to move as high as fifth in the conference. To make this jump, the Eagles need a few things to happen.

First, the Eagles need to win three of four against Northern Kentucky (29-23, 22-14 GLVC), which will enter the series third in the conference and fourth in the North Central Region poll. USI took two of three from the Norse last spring and lead the all-time series, 36-23.

To be successful in Highland Heights, USI will need the same good pitching it had last Sunday at St. Joseph’s. Leading the way is USI junior right-hander Andy Rumpler (Hamilton, Ohio).

Rumpler is 7-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 55.0 innings pitched and 10 appearances this spring. He also is 6-1 in the GLVC, winning his last six appearances and five starts. The junior picked up the win in the first game last Sunday, going 5.1 innings and allowed just four hits and an unearned run.

Following Rumpler with another hot right arm is junior Jae Fadde (West Lafayette, Indiana). Fadde has won his last three starts to raise his record to 3-3 and has lowered his ERA from 6.27 in his first six starts to just 3.65 in his last three. He also is coming off of a one-hitter against St. Joseph’s on Sunday.

The Eagles hope to get back on track is sophomore Mike Watson (Madison, Indiana). Watson, who started the year 3-1 and a 1.62 ERA in his first seven starts, has struggled in his last two starts, going 1-1 and allowing 15 earned runs.

Depending upon how the weekend goes, the Eagles have either junior right-hander Matt Keener (Newburgh, Indiana) or freshman right-hander Adam Summers (Dyer, Indiana) available.

Keener, who is 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA, has bounced back from a rough start to the spring by lowering his ERA 2.60 runs per game over his last three starts. Summers has been very steady as a freshman, posting a 3-5 record with a 3.47 ERA.

The Eagles also can reach into the bullpen for sophomore right-hander Matt Goans (Evansville, Indiana) and freshman right-hander Aaron Clark (Madisonville, Kentucky). Goans has a 3.43 ERA and leads the team with six saves, while Clark has three saves and a 5.26 ERA.

At the plate, Keener and junior centerfielder Noah Wetzel (New Salisbury, Indiana) continue to lead the Eagles. Keener has a team-best 45 RBIs, eight home runs, six triples, and 12 doubles, while ranking second on the squad with a .344 batting average.

Wetzel leads the Eagles with a .366 batting average, 39 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases, while ranking second with 26 RBIs.

The GLVC Tournament is scheduled for May 6-9 at GMC Stadium in Sauget, Illinois.

Ray Simmons, USI Sports Information

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