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SLIAC Game of the Week: Westminster at Spalding

SLIAC Game of the Week: Westminster at Spalding

 

At a Glance

This week's SLIAC Game of the Week features two teams looking to secure their spot in the conference standings when Westminster College faces Spalding University on the baseball field this weekend. The two teams will play on Saturday, March 25 with game time for the double header beginning at 1 p.m. in Louisville, Ky.

Westminster is the defending SLIAC Tournament Champions and are off to an undefeated start in conference play this season while Spalding is looking to capitalize on their strong start after fading down the stretch last year.

     
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Spalding University 'GOLDEN EAGLES'

Spalding is currently 12-6 overall this season and are 2-1 in SLIAC play. They face Centre in a mid-week non-conference game before hosting the Blue Jays this weekend. The Golden Eagles currently lead the conference with 128 runs scored and are hitting .306 as a team. Meanwhile their pitching staff, which returns all their starters from last year, is third in the SLIAC with a 4.78 earned-run average and has already recorded two shutouts.

The offensive attack is led by senior Blake Patterson, the defending SLIAC Hitter of the Week, who is hitting .443 this season with three home runs and 21 runs batted in. Senior Kam Bruner leads the conference with 26 RBI and is hitting .333 with three triples and 22 runs scored. Senior outfielder Jacob Woodruff is a threat on the base paths with 10 stolen bases already. The top of the rotation features junior Jimi Keating (1.58 E.R.A.) and senior Kyle Olliges (2.89 E.R.A.) who have each totaled 43 strikeouts this season.


Westminster College 'BLUE JAYS'

Westminster is 8-3 on the season and is the only SLIAC team to be undefeated after playing multiple conference games. The Blue Jays are coming off a three game series sweep of Iowa Wesleyan last weekend and have won five straight. The Blue Jays are hitting a conference best .335 this season and have scored 94 runs in their 11 games. Their pitching staff also ranks as tops in the SLIAC with a 3.20 staff earned-run average.

Juniors Blake Strebler (.452) and Nick Bohlman (.405) rank as two of the top hitters in the conference this season with Strebler also showing early season power with five home runs and 14 runs batted in. The Blue Jay lineup includes five players with double digits in runs batted in already highlighted by seniors Tanner Branneky and Nick Cessna. A pitching staff that had to replace their top two innings eaters from last year has relied on the combination of freshman Sam Huesgen and sophomore Alex Dicknelte early on this year. Huesgen holds a 1.73 earned-run average with a team high three wins while Dicknelte has a 2.42 earned-run average and a team high 27 strikeouts.

 

Last Meeting - May 6, 2016 in Fulton, Mo.
Game 1- Westminster 7, Spalding 1 BOX SCORE
Game 2- Westminster 10, Spalding 6 BOX SCORE

For the first time in the series, Westminster swept Spalding during the regular season; winning 7-1 in game one of a double header and taking the second game 10-6. In the opening game the Spalding bats were quieted by Blue Jay starter Deion Hughes, who went five innings and allowed just one run on three hits while striking out eight. Nick Bohlman did the damage at the plate for the Blue Jays with two hits and two RBI. In the day's second game, Spalding held a lead but were unable to overcome five errors in the game. Spalding notched five hits but were unable to pick up a hit beyond the fifth spot in the order, killing any rallies. Meanwhile Westminster recorded six of their eight hits in the game from spots 5-8 in the lineup.

Game Notes

  • Spalding leads the all-time series against Westminster 13-9, although Westminster has won four of the last five meetings including a sweep last year.
  • Blake or Blake? The weekend series will feature two of the league's top hitters, both with the first name of Blake. Spalding's Blake Patterson is second in the SLIAC in home runs and runs batted in and third in the SLIAC in average. Meanwhile Westminster's Blake Strebler first in home runs, second in average, and fifth in runs batted in.
  • Which will win out? Spalding's Jimi Keating and Kyle Olliges are tied for the conference lead with 43 strikeouts however Westminster has struck out just 54 times as a team this season, second fewest among SLIAC schools.
  • Did you know that last year was the first time Spalding has missed the SLIAC Tournament since joining the league and becoming eligible for postseason play, a stretch of three years.
  • Did you know that last spring Westminster became the third different SLIAC Tournament Champion in three years, something that hadn't been accomplished since the 1997-99 seasons.
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