At a Glance
This week's SLIAC Game of the Week is a meeting between the two top teams in the SLIAC West Division according to the 2016 preseason coaches poll; Webster University and Westminster College. The last time these two teams met was in the 2015 SLIAC Tournament with Westminster eliminating Webster to advance to the championship game.
The weekend series will consist of a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. and conclude with a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m. Saturday's games will be played at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois with Sunday's single game played in Fulton, Mo. Live Stats for Saturday are available HERE
After losing key parts of their offense from last year's team the Gorloks have relied heavily this spring on their deep pitching rotation. Even without two All-Conference pitchers (C.J. Lee and Josh Fleming) from last year making an apperance this season the Gorloks lead the SLIAC with a 3.15 team earned-run average. Heading up the charge on the mound are Jack Bensinger and Matt Goro. Goro has eased is way into the season, making just three starts but has been dominant with a 1.13 earned-run average and 16 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched. Bensinger has been the workhorse for Webster so far with over 50 innings pitched and has a 4-2 record with a 1.97 E.R.A. Trey Tigart leads the team with 43 strikeouts in just 39 innings pitched.
The offense begins with the big man at first base, Kyle Uhrich. Uhrich, who tied for the nation's lead with 17 home runs last season, is hitting .333 with two long balls and a team high 23 runs batted in this year. Outfielder Mike Wick has given the Gorloks plenty of chances atop the order, hitting .375 this season from his leadoff spot. Mike Golich provides the speed for the Gorloks, with a team high 10 stolen bases. Blake Thomas is the protection for Uhrich and is hitting .289 with two home runs and 16 runs batted in while Jeff Kammer is also a long ball threat and leads the team with three home runs this season.
The Blue Jays feature the most potent lineup in the league, scoring 180 runs this season and averaging 9.0 runs per game while hitting .323 as a team. The Blue Jays lineup features seven hitters with a batting average of .300 or better. Deion Hughes, also the team's top pitcher, leads the team with a .433 average. Tyler Branneky, the 2015 SLIAC Player of the Year, has continued to pound opposing pitchers this season with a .362 mark and eight home runs with 31 runs batted in. Branneky has already drawn 18 walks this season, striking out just 11 times, and holds a .516 on-base percentage. Connor Hager has offered protection behind Branneky, with a .354 average and five home runs with 26 RBI. Adam Mundle gets the offense started for the Blue Jays, holding a .341 batting average and a 10 stolen bases, which ranks second in the SLIAC.
On the mound Hughes has been just as impressive as at the plate; holding a 1.84 earned-run averaged and a 7-0 record with 43 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched. Hughes ranks in the top three of the league in all three categories and has already recorded three shutouts this season. However it is behind Hughes were the Blue Jays are still searching for answers. The rest of the staff holds a 4.96 earned-run average and has just two complete games compared to Hughes' five. Collin Brinker has done a nice job on the rubber, going 3-2 with a 3.26 E.R.A. and is second on the team in strikeouts.
- Webster leads the all-time series against Westminster 36-31.
- Westminster has scored double digit runs six times this season including two games with 20 or more runs; with a high of 29 runs against Middlebury.
- Webster has made six consecutive trips to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
- Younger Branneky brother, Tanner, leads the SLIAC in saves with three.
- The Gorloks have three different pitchers ranking in top five of various pitching categories: Goro leads the SLIAC in E.R.A. while Bensinger is fourth, Bensinger is also second in wins, and Tigart is second in strikeouts while Bensinger is fourth.