BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University baseball program will walk out on the diamond for the first time this season with a trip to face Rockhurst University Feb. 28 and March 1. The Beavers open the season Thursday with the first doubleheader of a four-game series against the Hawks in Fort Scott, Kan.
- Who: Bemidji State (0-0, 0-0 NSIC) vs. Rockhurst (0-6, 0-0 GLVC)
- When: Thursday, February 28 (11 a.m. / 2 p.m.); Friday, March 1 (11 a.m. / 2 p.m.)
- Where: Fort Scott, Kan. (LaRoche Baseball Complex)
Series History Under Bellew
- Overall Record: RU leads, 1-5
- Neutral Record: RU leads, 1-5
Bemidji State Overview
- Bemidji State enters the season after being selected to finish 14th overall in the 2019 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Baseball Coaches’ Poll.
- The Beavers finished 2018 with an 8-36 record overall and 6-22 mark in conference play. The Beavers ranked eighth in the league with seven triples last season and finished hitting .245 from the plate with a .333 on-base percentage. The pitching staff combined for an 8.29 earned run average while the team finished with a .958 fielding percentage.
- BSU returns 13 position players, six relief pitchers, and four starting pitchers from last season.
- Senior pitcher Jesse Palafox and junior catcher Isaiah Grancorvitz were selected as BSU’s Players to Watch for the upcoming season.
- BSU enters under 14th year head coach Tim Bellew, who is the second winningest coach in Beaver Baseball history with a 210-410-1 record overall. Bellew trails Bob Montebello (1959-87) by 88 wins for the program’s most victories by a head coach.
- Former Beaver Baseball student-athlete and assistant coach Matt Ellinghuysen rejoins the coaching staff in 2019 in the same position. He spent the last two seasons at Southwest Minnesota State University after spending the 2014-16 seasons as Bellew’s top assistant.
- The Hawks are led by 25th year head coach Gary Burns, who has totaled a career record of 734-578 since taking over as head coach in 1994.
- RU is averaging 2.7 runs while allowing 9.5 runs per game this season.
- Rockhurst completed a three-game slate at the Trojan Classic during its last time out, going 0-3 with all three losses coming by three runs or fewer.
- Junior catcher Nic Mertes leads the squad hitting .500 from the plate while starting three games. Garrett McNally leads the team with three RBI and two stolen bases while carrying a .333 batting average into the series with BSU.
- Jack Eisenbarger, Grant Ruediger, and Jacob Thigpen have each made two starts for the Hawks while Eisenbarger leads the staff with 11.0 innings pitched. Eisenbarger has allowed an opposing batting average of .256 and an earned run average of 3.27 while striking out 15 batters. Thingpen has struck out 10 batters while holding an ERA of 13.50 and an opposing batting average of .405.
- Rockhurst returns five of its top seven hitters from a season ago after averaging 5.9 runs per game and a .300 team batting average.
- Senior first baseman Alex Van Pelt batted .356 and led the team with four home runs and 40 RBI last year. Mertes followed with a .355 batting average, one home run, and 14 RBI while sophomore outfielder Tommy Kraus totaled a .328 batting average and 12 RBI.
- The pitching staff was led last season by Eisenbarger and Thigpen, who combined for 20 starts and 116.3 innings while winning six games and striking out 95 hitters.
Player to Watch: Isaiah Grancorvitz
- Grancorvitz started 36 games last season while leading BSU’s returners with 22 runs scored, 10 hit-by-pitches, and four sacrifice flies.
- He hit .263 from the plate with 16 RBI while ranking second among returning letter winners with a .376 on-base percentage, 115 putouts, 114 at-bats, 30 hits, and 13 walks.
- Grancorvitz totaled a .956 field percentage with five runners caught stealing at catcher.
Pitcher to Watch: Jesse Palafox
- Palafox made 13 appearances in relief with two saves during the 2018 campaign.
- He allowed an opposing batting average of .367 while finishing his junior season with a 9.86 ERA and 33 hits allowed in 21.0 innings pitched.
- Palafox recorded 18 strikeouts while facing 100 batters.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).