Jan. 30, 2006
USAFA, Colo. -
The Air Force Falcon baseball program opens its 2006 season playing host to Colorado Christian this Saturday, Feb. 4, in a 11 a.m. doubleheader at Falcon Field. Colorado Christian is fielding its first-ever baseball team and will be playing the program's inaugural game. Admission is free to all Falcon baseball home games and live play-by-play will be available on the internet at www.airforcesports.com.
Air Force Head Coach Mike Hutcheon
Mike Hutcheon begins his third year as the head coach of the Falcons. Prior to his stint at the Academy, Hutcheon spent the last four years at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Ind. and compiled a record of 130-78 during his tenure there. In 2002, Hutcheon was named the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCAA) National Coach of the year after leading Bethel to the 2002 NCCAA national title. Prior to his stay at Bethel, Hutcheon coached at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., for five seasons where he went 109-62. Through 11 seasons as a head coach, Hutcheon has compiled a 254-233 record and is 15-93 at Air Force.
50 Years of Falcon Baseball
The Falcons begin its 50th season of baseball in 2006.
The Falcons' fielded their first varsity team in 1957, going 6-9 in 15 games.
Air Force is 903-1,065-3 all time for a .459 winning percentage.
The Falcons' winningest season came in 1964, when the team went 22-5, good for an .815 winning percentage.
The 1979 team had the most wins ever, going 33-13 for a .719 winning percentage.
The Falcons have produced seven baseball All-Americans in addition to five freshman All-Americans.
A Quick Recap of 2005
Air Force went 9-44 overall in 2005 and 4-26 in Mountain West Conference play, finishing in sixth place.
The Falcons batted .279 as a team and had a team earned-run average of 12.18.
AFA's top hitter and team MVP was senior Reid Lamson, who batted .321 with 52 runs and an MWC-leading 18 stolen bases.
The Falcons' top pitcher was Paul Pratt, who was 3-9 with 9.62 ERA with 41 K's in 62.2 innings pitched.
The Falcons graduated four seniors in 2005 - Lamson, Nathan DeRohan, Dale Kasel and Brent Tittle.
The Falcons return 18 letterwinners, including six starters on the field.
Air Force returns nine pitchers, six with significant starting experience.
The Falcons top returning hitters are senior IF/OF Dustin Smith (.320 avg, 3 HR, 21 RBI) and junior 1B Karl Bolt (.315, 12, 39).
The Falcons return a bevy of returning pitchers in seniors Paul Pratt, Kyle DePierre, Clayton Couch and Paul Vignola.
Junior Geno Salazar led all MWC shortstops with a .970 fielding percentage in 2005.
Junior Jon Polston tied for third in the conference with 18 base-runners thrown out.
The Falcons welcome 10 new players to the team in 2006. Eight freshmen and two sophomores look to improve the Falcons in coach Mike Hutcheon's third year. Five of the freshman newcomers - Casey Allen, Jake Daly, Shawn Naugle, Juan Perez and Jake Petro - are pitchers. The two sophomores, Chay Derbigny and Tony Lee, and freshmen Bob Carpenter, Jake Griggs and Brad Madison will see time in the field. Allen and Madison were all-state selection out of high school in Texas and Carpenter and Daly played for the super-power NorCal summer baseball program in Northern California.
2006 Team Captains
Three Falcons will share team captain duties for the 2006 season. Seniors Price Paramore and Paul Pratt, along with junior Karl Bolt will assume leadership duties for Air Force, replacing Brent Tittle, who was the team captain in 2005.
Air Force is 28-21 all-time in season openers...The Falcons are 10-5 in their last 15 season openers...In 2005, Paul Pratt tossed a seven-inning complete game and Karl Bolt, Jon Polston and Geno Salazar homered to lead the Falcons to an 8-2 win over Southern Utah.
Colorado Christian is fielding its first-ever baseball team and will be playing the program's inaugural game. Robb Pegg, a graduate of Vanguard University, is in his first year as a head coach. Colorado Christain, a Div. II program located in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, will play in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC).
The Last Time Out
The Air Force falcon baseball program opens its 2006 season playing host to Colorado Christian this Saturday in a noon-doubleheader at Falcon Field. Colorado Christian is fielding its first-ever baseball team and will be playing the program's inaugural game. Admission is free to all Falcon baseball home games and live play-by-play will be available on the internet at www.airforcesports.com.
Air Force batted .279 as a team in 2005, 13 points above its 2004 total of .266...The Falcons also hit 49 homers as a team in 2005, nearly double the amount hit in 2004 (26)...Dustin Smith is the top returning hitter for the Falcons, batting .320 as a junior...Karl Bolt hit 12 home runs for the Falcons as a sophomore, tying him for the 11th-best single-season total at the Academy...Price Paramore batted .370 in conference play a season ago...Geno Salazar tied for the team lead in doubles (11) and triples (3)...Matt Ghigna was the top Falcon freshman hitter as season ago, batting .283 and stole eight bases.
Air Force fielded .947 in 2005, committing 100 errors...AFA fielded .938 in 2004, committing 116 errors...Geno Salazar had the top fielding percentage among MWC shortstops with a .970 percentage, committing just seven errors...Jon Polston was third in the conference with 18 runners thrown out...Karl Bolt was sixth in the MWC with 358 putouts...Salazar was ninth in the league with 137 assists.
Air Force had a 12.18 earned run average in 2005...The Falcons struck out 263 batters in 416.2 innings pitched...junior Paul Pratt led the Falcons with a 3-9 record in 62.2 innings pitched...junior Kyle DePierre led the Falcons with 43 strikeouts in just 44.1 innings pitched...junior Clayton Couch led the team with a 6.32 ERA as a starter...Pratt had a ERA of 1.42 after being converted to closer at the end of the season...sophomore Mitch Brown led the team with 21 appearances...freshman Sam Rosener led the team with two saves and had a 7.46 ERA.
Falcons Tabbed 7th in MWC Preseason Poll
The Air Force Falcon baseball team was tabbed to finish seventh in the Mountain West Conference as voted by the seven head coaches and select media. TCU, in it's first season in the conference, was selected to finish first, followed by a second-place tie by UNLV and San Diego State for second. BYU followed in fourth, New Mexico fifth and Utah sixth.
Falcons To Play Paul Mainieri's Notre Dame
When Air Force travels to Millington, Tenn., to take part in the annual Service Academies Spring Classic at USA Stadium, they will see a familiar face in the opposition's dugout. The Falcons open the tournament on Feb. 24, against perennial Big East conference powerhouse Notre Dame, guided by former Falcon skipper Paul Mainieri. Mainieri guided the Falcons to a 152-158 record in six years from 1989-94 and is the only Falcon coach ever to win 20 or more games in six consecutive seasons. Mainieri is 488-196-2 in 11 seasons at Notre Dame, averaging 44 wins a season there.
The Falcons are slated to play three games next week. On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Falcons will take on Northern Colorado at 3 p.m. at Runyon Field in Pueblo and will play as the home team. The game was added to the schedule after Savannah State dropped its four-game series with the Falcons and was moved to Pueblo because of the availability of lights. Air Force then takes on York College, Saturday, Feb. 11, in a doubleheader at Falcon Field, beginning at 11 a.m. Air Force and York College were slated to play a doubleheader last year, but the games were cancelled due to snow.