Lumberjack Baseball Hosts Bearkats in Season Finale
May 16, 2007
NACOGDOCHES - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks head into the final weekend of the 2007 regular season sitting in the sixth spot in the Southland Conference standings with a league record of 15-12 as they host Sam Houston State Thursday through Saturday. Thursday's and Friday's games will begin at 3 p.m. while Saturday's contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start. With Northwestern State and Southeastern Louisiana right behind SFA, the Lumberjacks have to take two-of-three from the Bearkats to earn a berth into the SLC tournament. In just their second season of play, the 'Jacks are on the verge of breaking the 30-win mark with a 28-25 overall record. SFA has almost doubled its win total in just a year's time and could finish at .500 or higher.
The Bearkats: With a sweep of Southeastern Louisiana last weekend, Sam Houston State clinched a spot in the Southland Conference tournament for the first time since 2000. The 'Kats are 33-20 overall and are currently fourth in the league with a 17-10 mark. Keith Stein leads the team with a .402 batting average and right behind him is Bobby Verbick batting .378. Verbick joins SFA's Steven Hill on the Wallace Watch list and the Dick Howser Trophy watch list, as Hill and Verbick are the only two SLC players on the latter. Verbick has 79 hits on the year and has scored 45 runs. He has driven in 68 runs and is the only Bearkat with double-digit home runs with 12. From the mound, Luke Prihoda is leading the nation in saves with 15. He has a 1.26 ERA in 29 appearances and has struck out 55 in 57.1 innings. He also has a 4-3 record.
Against the Bearkats: The Lumberjacks have an 8-19 record against Sam Houston State since 1988. But, in the return of baseball, SFA swept the Bearkats in Huntsville to close out the 2006 season. The scores from the series were 13-5, 13-5 and 6-2.
The Coaches: SFA's Donnie Watson is in his second season at the helm of the Lumberjack baseball program. In his time with the 'Jacks, Watson has put together a 43-64 (.396) overall record and an SLC mark of 22-34 (.380). Mark Johnson is in his first year as the head coach of the Bearkats.
Senior Day: Prior to Saturday's 1 p.m. contest with Sam Houston State, the nine Lumberjack seniors will be honored. Jeremy Arterburn, Josh Bone, Kyle Freeman, Steven Hill, David Jeans, Jacob Leonhardt, Lance Luetge, Chris Smith and Chance Tabor make up the the first SFA baseball senior class since the return of the sport.
The Starters Thursday - Jared Schrom: Sophomore right hander Jared Schrom earned his fourth victory of the season, pitching 5.0 innings of scoreless baseball Friday at UTA. He gave up four hits while striking out two and walking one. The Portland, Texas, native has 69 strikeouts on the year with 33 walks in 85.2 innings of work. He is 4-3 on the year with a 4.41 ERA.
Friday - Lance Luetge: Senior southpaw Lance Luetge suffered his fourth loss of the season Saturday at Texas-Arlington after giving up five of the Mavericks' eight runs in only 3.1 innings. He gave up eight hits in the outing, while walking one batter. For the season, Luetge has a 3.62 ERA with a 7-4 record. He has struck out 51 batters while walking 24 in 79.2 innings of work.
Saturday - Erich Lehmann: Sophomore Erich Lehmann returned to the starting rotation last week, pitching the Lumberjacks' to a 14-4 seven-inning win for his eighth victory of the year. With the win, the Fort Worth native tied his career-high for wins in a season, and with one more, he will break the season record at SFA. At UTA, Lehmann struck out seven to match a career-high and sent his season total to 72. He only needs four more Ks to take the season record. The 72 strikeouts are tops on the team. He has posted a 4.38 ERA in 16 appearances and 15 starts.
Back-to-Back Run Rules: The Lumberjacks posted back-to-back run rules last week and have won three of their last four conference games in the same manner. First SFA took an 11-0 seven-inning shutout at Texas State to wrap up the series and followed suit the following Friday with a 12-1 eight-inning victory at Texas-Arlington. Then, after falling 8-4 to the Mavericks, the Lumberjacks took a 14-4 seven-inning victory to close up the series at UTA Sunday.
Another First: With a berth into the Southland Conference tournament, head coach Donnie Watson will add another accomplishment to his list as the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks have never made an appearance in the league tournament.
Watch Lists: Lumberjack first baseman Steven Hill has been named to two watch lists for national player of the year awards. He was named to the Dick Howser Trophy list and just last week, he was named to the "Wallace Watch" for the Brooks Wallace Award. Hill and Sam Houston State's Bobby Verbick are the only two Southland Conference players on the Howser watch list while Lamar's Michael Ambort joins the duo on the Wallace Watch.
A Look at the Numbers: SFA's Steven Hill vs. Sam Houston's Bobby Verbick
Nationally Ranked: The Lumberjacks have left their mark on the national rankings in three different categories this season. Steven Hill is making a steady climb through the top five home run hitters. Currently, he is ranked second in the nation with 23, three behind Texas' Kyle Russel who is leading with 26. Hill is also ranked in the top 10 for home runs per game. Hill's numbers have also helped the team land 10th for home runs per game. Hill is also ranked among the top 10 for RBI per game and in the top 15 in slugging percentage.