Bemidji State baseball: 2004 Spring Prospectus
Thursday, February 12, 2004

A Look at the 2004 Schedule
Bemidji State will get its 53rd season of baseball competition underway on March 6, 2004 when the Beavers travel south to tackle Central Oklahoma in a three-game non-conference series. That series opens an eight-day tour of Missouri and Oklahoma which will see BSU play nine games. After Central Oklahoma, BSU will play two games at Missouri Southern, visit Pittsburg (Kan.) State and play three games at Central Missouri State.

As has been the program’s tradition due to northern Minnesota weather conditions, the team will play its first 24 or 25 games of the season on the road and will not make its home debut until April 6 against North Dakota. BSU then plays 20 of 22 games at home before closing the season with a two-game road trip to Minn.-Duluth and a four-game series at Northern (S.D.) State.

Beavers Take Veteran Squad Into 2004 Campaign
Bemidji State’s 27-man roster for 2004 features 20 veterans, including 19 who return from 2003 and one player from the 2002 roster who was not with the program a year ago. BSU’s lineup will feature only seven newcomers - and just four true freshmen.

BSU’s 2004 roster features six seniors, six returning juniors, two junior transfers, five sophomores, four redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen.

Returning and Lost
Unlike the 2003 season, when Bemidji returned about half of its offensive production but practically no pitching from 2002, this year’s Beaver squad again returns much of its offense but also has veteran experience on the hill.

Offensively, BSU returns 595 of its 1,168 at-bats from a year ago (.509) and 99 of the team’s 205 runs scored - including three of its top five individual run-scorers. BSU’s nine returning bats also accounted for 198 of the team’s 345 base hits (.574) and 113 of 175 runs batted in (.646). In addition, the team is returning a significant majority of its extra-base generation, returning 41 of its 58 doubles (.707), all three triples and 11 of 12 home runs (.917) from 2003. Seniors John Czech and Shaun Ross will spearhead the BSU offense. Both were All-NSIC picks in 2003, with Czech finishing ninth in the league in batting (.375) and Ross leading the team in home runs (five) and RBI (34). Both will be heavy favorites for repeat All-NSIC honors in 2004. Designated hitter Tony Klaers hit .491 for BSU a year ago in 57 at-bats, and led BSU’s non-qualifying hitters with 13 RBI. First baseman Isaac Smieja brings his .348 average and 11 RBI back to the plate for BSU as well.

The pitching staff loses one of its three arms which qualified for conference leaderboards in 2003, and overall will welcome back 147 of the team’s 284 innnings pitched (.518). It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a far cry from a year ago when the Beavers returned less than 30 percent of the staff’s 2001 innings pitched. Senior lefty Scott Pugliese and senior righty Tyler Norland should go into 2004 as the team’s aces. The duo combined for almost 90 innings in 15 starts a year ago and posted five wins. Each had two complete games, and Norland’s three wins are most by a BSU returner. Dan Wagner threw 19.2 innings, but had a 9.15 ERA in six starts.

BSU in Season Openers
Bemidji State is entering its 53rd season of baseball in 2004 and stands 19-32-1 all-time in season openers. BSU is 3-3 in its last six season openers dating back to 1998, including a 6-5 loss to West Liberty in the 2003 opener which prevented BSU from becoming just the sixth team in school history to win back-to-back openers.

Beavers Sport Pair of Two-Sport Crossovers
Non-roster players Adam Daley and Nick Noack are expanding their Bemidji State athletics resumes on the baseball diamond this spring. Daley is one of the nation’s leading three-point shooters for BSU’s men’s basketball team, while Noack spent the 2003 season as a redshirt freshman defensive tackle on the football team.

Head Coach Chris Brown
Chris Brown (Jamestown (N.D.) College 2000) is in his second season as head coach at Bemidji State and fourth with the program after an assitant coaching stint under BSU baseball icon Jim Grimm. Brown helped lead BSU to a 15-27 record in his debut campaign in 2003, including an 11-11 finish against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference competition. Brown’s 11 league wins were second-most ever by a rookie head coach at BSU trailing only a 13-8 league mark in Doug Smith’s 1988 debut. Brown’s 15 overall wins were also second-most ever by a BSU rookie head coach and were second-most by any BSU team since 1997.
Brown is assisted by Mike Benke, Rick Looker and Dan Persons. Benke (2001) and Looker (1996) are both BSU alumni, while Persons is a 2002 grad of Nebraska-Omaha.