The Beavers open the 2011 season in Phoenix, Ariz. March 8-13 at the 2011 RussMatt Greater Phoenix Invitational. BSU’s first game of the invitational is against Northwestern (Iowa) March 8. The Beavers begin Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play March 26-27 at Upper Iowa University. They open play at the BSU Baseball Field April 9-10 against Augustana College.
The Bemidji State University baseball team is still trying to find its spot in the new Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, but it returns a core group of ball players to the 2011 squad, hoping to combine it with some newcomers that could make an immediate impact to improve on its 2010 16-37 overall and 7-25 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference record.
BSU welcomes back 17 letterwinners, nine of which were starters last season, losing 13 letterwinners and just four starters. The 34-player roster is made up of 14 upperclassmen and 21 underclassmen, but of the nine sophomores, six are pitchers that saw valuable time last season on the mound.
Head coach Tim Bellew returns for his sixth season as the head coach at BSU, posting a 68-174-1 record as a Beaver. He will again be assisted by former Beaver student-athlete (2006-09) P.J. McIntee, returning for his second season as graduate assistant coach.
Coach Bellew said he is excited about the competitive nature the 2011 team brings and the depth the team will have this season. Despite a bit of a new look roster, the Beavers will have options at the plate, in the field and on the base paths this season. Plagued with injuries and youth, last season’s BSU pitching staff had a hard time keeping the ball inside the park, so this season, the skipper is looking for some consistency on the mound. At the plate the Beavers return most of their top hitters and Bellew expects the senior class to produce on the field and provide leadership off the diamond to lay a foundation for the future.
Around the Horn:
Pitcher (1) - BSU returns a strong starting unit that pitched a lot of innings for the Beavers last season. The starting rotation includes senior Ryan Gebur (RHP) and sophomores Ryan Van Someren (RHP), Ryan Anderson (RHP), Phil Bray (LHP) and Logan Kalis (RHP). Gebur made 10 appearances, starting four and recorded a 0-1 record with 22.0 innings pitched. Van Someren owned the team’s top ERA (with at least 16 innings pitched) at 6.63, pitched 38 innings with a 1-1 record and a .319 opposing team batting average. Anderson started eight games and had a 2-4 record, 8.93 ERA in a team-high 43.1 innings pitched. Bray threw 34.1 innings, fanning 25 batters with a 7.34 ERA and 0-3 record in 11 appearances (six starts). Kalis became one of BSU’s top starters towards the end of last season and finished the year starting 10 games and posting a 2-6 record, while fanning 27 batters. Also in the starting role mix are freshmen Miles Campbell (RHP) and Ryan Rothing (RHP).
In middle relief the Beavers went on the recruiting trail to get junior college transfers Matt Frederick (RHP, Trinidad State JC) and Kaleb Dingman (RHP, McCook CC), while also having sophomore Billy Sather (RHP) who pitched just two innings last season.
Seniors Ryan Sander (RHP) and Bryan Jamieson (RHP) and sophomore transfer Ryan Brezinski (RHP) all have the ability to pitch more than one inning if need be, while also serving as the holders and closers for BSU. Sander started last season as the team’s No. 1 starter, but a shoulder injury ended his pitching season after he posted a 2.93 ERA, 2-0 record in three starts with 11 strikeouts. He earned his first-career NSIC Pitcher of the Week honors last season in a 7-0 opening game victory against University of Minnesota, Crookston. Jamieson appeared in the most games (17) for BSU last season and posted a 6.87 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched. Brezinski brings some college experience to the staff, while adding power and grit for the late innings.
Catcher (2) - Sophomore Riley Hirsch played in 26 games, starting 23 behind the plate. He will start as the No. 1 catcher after splitting time last season. Also in the mix is senior Joe Chism, who will move from right field back behind the plate where he started at BSU two seasons ago. Hirsch brings the defense, while Chism poses as an offensive threat. Chism is the team’s top returning batter in terms of average after posting a .304 mark last season with 56 hits, 33 runs, 25 RBI, 10 doubles and eight homeruns. Hirsch batted .259 with 15 hits and seven RBI. Freshman Zach Braun will also be looking for some time behind the plate.
First Base (3) - Senior Brian Murphy, Sander and Kalis will vie for time at first base. Sander played in 39 games last season and Murphy played in 33. Sander was a .294 hitter, recording 37 hits, 21 RBI and 13 runs scored. Murphy posted a .284 averaged and added 21 hits, 11 runs, eight RBI and six extra base hits. Kalis saw limited time at the plate, working mostly from the mound towards the end of the season, but made the most of his looks, batting .350 with 14 hits, nine runs and six RBI, with only four strikeouts.
Middle Infield (Second Base - 4 and Shortstop - 6) - The middle infield is the biggest question mark on the minds of the BSU coaching staff this season. The group is young and slightly inexperienced. The up-the-gut crew is headed by senior Brian Ahlers (second base), who played in 20 games last season with nine starts. He comes in with the most Division II collegiate experience overall, ahead of sophomore Lewis Baumann (shortstop) who played in 29 games his first year in the green and white, making 18 starts. Both players weren’t able to find a rhythm at the plate as Ahlers posted a .212 batting average and Baumann owned a .102 batting average. Junior transfer Matt Baier from Rochester Community College was added to the roster for some experience at second base. Also adding to the middle infield will be freshmen Dylan Webb (second base) and Cody Bergquist (shortstop).
Third Base (5) - With senior Colton Smith moving to the outfield, the corner infield spot at third will be open. Sophomore Matt Ellinhuysen is in line to take the spot after playing in 15 and starting 12 games last season for BSU. He batted .200 with seven hits and six RBI in 2010. Sander and junior transfer Mauricio Gomez (Culver Stockton College) will also see time at third.
Left Field (7) - Senior Nick Jelacie will start in left for BSU after playing center last season. Jelacie was the team’s at bats (185), homeruns (9), runs (42) and RBI (37) leader last season. He swung the bat for a .281 average, adding 46 hits, 12 doubles and a .524 slugging percentage. He also added six stolen bases and owned a .968 fielding percentage with 120 putouts. His back-up will be freshman Cole Bjorge.
Center Field (8) - Smith will be the top starter in center field for BSU after playing in 50 of 53 games last season - mostly in the infield. He batted .274 in 2010, leading the team in doubles with 13, walks with 19 and stolen bases with a perfect 12-for-12 mark. He added 46 hits, 39 runs and 24 RBI. He had 95 assists in the field with 31 putouts. Serving as the top backup to Smith and all the starting outfielders will be freshman Eric Kallevig.
Right Field (9) - Junior transfer Juan Molero will be the starting right fielder for BSU in 2011. He comes to the Beavers from Culver Stockton College with Gomez. Both Molero and Gomez competed for a rival team of McIntee in the Boise Summer League last summer. Molero batted a team-best .400 with 34 hits, 23 runs and 17 RBI, adding 14 stolen bases last summer in the wood bat league. Along with his pitching duties, Frederick will serve as back-up in right field.
Designated Hitter (10) - Depending on who is pitching and who is playing in the field, the Beavers have options at the designated hitter spot. The top prospects for the DH position will be Kalis, Sander, Chism and Braun.