2016 SLIAC Baseball Tournament Preview

2016 SLIAC Baseball Tournament Preview

Courtesy of SLIAC SID

The final St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship of the year will take place this weekend with the 2016 Baseball Tournament. The tournament field will include Greenville College, MacMurray College, Webster University, and Westminster College.

Tournament at a Glance
This year's tournament will be held in Greenville, Illinois at Robert E. Smith Field in the John M. Strahl Athletic Complex. The tournament is a three day, double elimination format with games running from Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14.

Thursday, May 12
Game 1- #1E MacMurray vs. #2W Westminster, 2 p.m.
Game 2- #1W Webster vs. #2E Greenville, 5 p.m.
Game 3- Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 8 p.m.

Friday, May 13
Game 4- Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 5 p.m.
Game 5- Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 8 p.m.

Saturday, May 14
Game 6- Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 1 p.m.
Game 7- If Necessary, immediately following Game 6


Broadcast Information
The 2016 SLIAC Baseball Championship game will be broadcast live courtesy of College Casts. To listen go to the tournament page and click on the Audio Link located next to each of the game's being broadcast.


Tournament Tidbits

  • Greenville is making their 15th trip to the SLIAC Tournament, winning their first ever title last year. 
  • MacMurray is making its 10th appearance in the tournament but their first since the 1999 season. The Highlanders have won four tournament titles with the last coming in 1997. 
  • Webster is making their 20th SLIAC Tournament appearance and have won eight tournament titles. 
  • This is Westminster's 15th trip to the tournament and the program has won the tournament a total of three times with the last coming 1999. 
  • Greenville has appeared in the last two SLIAC Tournament championship games, falling to Webster in 2014 and defeating Westminster in 2015. 
  • Not only is this MacMurray's first postseason since 1999 it is their first winning season since 1999 while their 22 wins are the most since the 2000 season. 
  • Webster will be looking to make their seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament and will host the Central Regional next weekend. 
  • Westminster's 25 wins during the regular season are the most since the program won 32 games in the 2001 season. 
  • Greenville went 2-5 against teams in the tournament. 
  • MacMurray was 3-4 overall against opponents in the tournament. 
  • Webster finished 4-3 this year against teams in the tournament field. 
  • Westminster recorded a 5-2 record against this year's tournament teams. 
Greenville College 'PANTHERS'

Greenville captured the program's first ever SLIAC Tournament title last year and will be the #2 seed from the East Division this year after going 21-19 overall and 15-7 in the SLIAC. The Panthers carry their longest winning streak of the season into the tournament, winning their last six games.
Greenville holds a .285 team batting average and rank 5th in the SLIAC, averaging 5.6 runs per game. The Panthers rank third in the conference in home runs with 30 and fourth in stolen bases with 56. The Panthers offense features five players with a .300 or better batting average, paced by Nate Miller's .373 mark. Miller is also tied for the team lead with 10 stolen bases.  The lineup is highlighted by Trevor Montgomery, who is hitting .319 with 41 runs batted in and a conference best 11 home runs. Travis Ralls and Shane Olmsted provide protection for Montgomery. Ralls is hitting .368 with 33 RBI this season while Olmsted is hitting .305 and has one of the better eyes in the conference, having nearly has many doubles (10) as strikeouts (11) this season.
Their pitching staff holds a 5.31 earned-run average, sixth in the SLIAC, and is anchored by Ryan Strohm. Strohm has made a team high 12 starts this season and holds a 5-4 record with a 3.88 earned-run average. He has thrown a staff high 72 innings this spring, recording 48 strikeouts. After Strohm the Panthers have rolled through five other pitchers who have made at least four starts this year. A pair of freshmen Adam Lamb and Jonah Moore rank second and third on the staff in innings pitched with each picking up two wins this year. Jason Collingwood tied with Strohm for the team lead in wins with five, adding five saves; which led the conference.
MacMurray College 'HIGHLANDERS'

After a 17 year absence the Highlanders return to the SLIAC Tournament, going 22-18 overall and 15-7 in the SLIAC. The Highlanders needed a win on the final day of the season and got it with two wins to claim the #1 seed from the East Division. MacMurray comes into the postseason on a four game winning streak, having swept Iowa Wesleyan and Principia in a pair of series.
The Highlanders offense ranks in the middle of the pack but has come alive as of late. They are hitting .288 as a team and average 5.6 runs per game; averaging 8.0 runs per game during their current four game winning streak. They hit 15 home runs this year and have swiped 21 bases as a team. Collin Antoine is hitting .400 this season, fourth best in the SLIAC, and led the conference with five triples. Drake Hardin is hitting .371 and leads the team with 17 doubles and is second in runs batted in with 26. Drew Johnson offers the most power in the lineup, hitting a team high six home runs with 36 runs batted in and a .310 batting average.
The Highlanders pitching staff is led by a pair juniors in Connor Jacobs and junior college transfer Luke Jarvis. Jarvis ranked third in the SLIAC with a 2.15 earned-run average, compiling a 6-2 record. Jacobs threw a team high 70 innings this season and holds a 3.86 earned-run average while ranking sixth in the SLIAC in strikeouts with 65. As a team the Highlanders hold a 5.01 earned-run average, fifth in the league; but cut that to 3.54 during conference play.
Webster University 'GORLOKS'
Webster University won their 10th regular season conference title with an 18-4 conference mark, going 27-13 overall. The Gorloks will be looking to respond to last year's early exit in the tournament, that saw them have their five year run of tournament titles snapped. The Gorloks are on a roll as they enter the tournament, having won 13 of their last 14 games. Their hot play has coincided with the return of Josh Fleming to the pitching staff.
Fleming missed the first part of the season due to injury but since making his debut on April 10 last year's SLIAC Newcomer of the Year has further strengthened the Gorloks rotation. Fleming is 4-0 in his five starts with a 2.28 earned-run average and 44 strikeouts in just 27.2 innings. Jack Bensinger filled in during Fleming's absence, making a team high 11 starts and picking up eight wins while leading the conference with a 1.75 earned-run average. Austin Beccue, Johnny Lord, and Trey Tigart round out the Gorloks rotation.
Offensively the Gorloks are hitting .300 as a team, averaging 6.5 runs per game, and ranking second in the league in home runs with 34 and in stolen bases with 86. Mike Thomas starts things off for the Gorloks with his .378 batting average and 14 stolen bases. Thomas also has more walks than strikeouts this season and holds a .439 on-base percentage out of his leadoff spot. Kyle Uhrich is the big bat in the middle, hitting .338 this year with a conference high 11 home runs. Uhrich is the Gorloks' all-time leader in home runs and tied for the nations lead last year with 17. Blake Thomas (.341 average with 25 RBI) and Jeff Kammer (.328 average with 31 RBI) are there to clean up the runs after Uhrich.
Westminster College 'BLUE JAYS'
Westminster went 25-12 overall during the regular season, wrapping up the #2 seed from the West Division with a 16-6 SLIAC record. The Blue Jays come in having swept Spalding in a the final series of the regular season and have won four of their last five games and 10 of their last 12 games.
This season has been all about the runs for the Blue Jays, averaging 9.3 runs per game and hitting .330 as a team; both conference bests. The Blue Jays have scored 10 or more runs 13 times this season and led the SLIAC with 38 home runs. The offense features seven hitters with at least a .300 batting average and includes last year's SLIAC Player of the Year Tyler Branneky. Tyler Branneky is hitting just .285 this season but still leads the team 10 home runs and has driven in 46 while his younger brother Tanner is hitting .367 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in. Adam Mundle provides the speed for the Blue Jays, hitting .354 this season and with a team best 16 stolen bases while Connor Hager continues the deep lineup with a .347 average.
Deion Hughes leads a pitching staff that holds a 4.69 team earned-run average. Hughes is 11-1 this season with a 2.07 earned-run average and 75 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched. In addition to being the staff ace, Hughes is hitting .400 with 30 RBI at the plate. Collin Brinker teams with Hughes atop the rotation and led the Blue Jays with 84 innings pitched this spring, recording an 8-2 record and a 2.36 earned-run average.