Feb. 14, 2006
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. -
The Air Force baseball team (4-1) travels to HoHoKam Park, the Spring Training site of the Chicago Cubs, From Feb. 17-18, to take on Illinois-Chicago (0-0) and Creighton (0-2) in Mesa, Ariz. The Falcons take on UIC at 10:30 a.m. on the 17th and also on the 18th immediately after playing Creighton at 10:30 a.m.
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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 258-234 record and is 19-94 at Air Force.
50 Years of Falcon Baseball
The Falcons are in their 50th season of baseball in 2006.
The Falcons' fielded their first varsity team in 1957, going 6-9 in 15 games.
Air Force is 907-1,066-3 all time for a .460 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.
Recapping Last Week
The Falcons went 2-1 in their three games last week, losing 13-5 to Northern Colorado on Wednesday and taking both games of a doubleheader (2-1, 4-3) against York College on Sunday. All three games were played at Runyon Field in Pueblo.
Against UNC, the Falcons gave up 12 hits and tied a MWC record with eight hit batters. In game one against York, Mitch Brown struck out 11 in six innings, his second consecutive start with 11 K's, and Paul Vignola picked up the save in the 2-1 win. In game two, Josh Meents hit a two-out walkoff base hit in the ninth inning as Air Force won 4-3. Vignola picked up the win, tossing 3.1 innings of shutout relief.
Illinois-Chicago opens its 2006 season against the Falcons. UIC is the defending Horizon League Champion after going 38-31-1 last year and are preseason favorites to win it in 2006. Mike Dee (Wisconsin-LaCrosse `79) is in his seventh year as head coach of the Flames and has a record of 234-160-1.
Creighton enters the weekend with an 0-2 record after getting swept at Arkansas-Little Rock over the weekend. The Jays are the defending Missouri Valley Conference Champions and also made the NCAA regionals in 2005, after posting a 48-17 record. Ed Servais (Wisconsin-LaCrosse `81) is 83-43 in his third year at Creighton.
Against The Opponents
The Falcons take on Illinois-Chicago for the first-time ever.
Air Force is 4-15 all-time against Creighton. The two teams last met at the Academy two years ago on Feb. 15, with the Jays taking the game 13-8. Paul Vignola took the loss for the Falcons. Creighton has won the last six contests between the two schools. The last Falcon win over the Jays was a 4-3 win on Feb. 21, 1998, in Omaha.
Air Force is batting .233 as a team and slugging just .302...the Falcons have drawn 23 walks (4.6 per game) and have an on-base percentage of .365...junior Geno Salazar leads the team with a .357 batting average and has a four-game hitting streak...the Falcons have stolen 14 bases as a team, averaging 2.8 per game...the Falcons have yet to homer in five games this year...Chay Derbigny leads the team with five runs scored and four stolen bases...Austin Ferreria is second on the team with four runs scored...Dustin Smith is the lone Falcon with two extra base hits (1 double, 1 triple)...4-5 hitters Karl Bolt (0-for-16) and Matt Ghigna (0-for-10) are looking for their first hits of the season...Josh Meents had the walk-off RBI hit against York on Sunday...Matt Musser stole a pair of bases against York.
Air Force is fielding .964 as a team, committing six errors in 123 chances...the Falcons had a season-high three errors in game two against York on Sunday...catcher Jon Polston has already picked off four base runners...Air Force has turned two double plays so far this season.
The Falcon pitching has been superb so far this season, allowing just 14 earned runs in 39 innings for a 3.23 earned run average...if you take away the 11 earned runs surrendered against Northern Colorado, the Falcons have a paltry 1.00 ERA in their four other games...junior Mitch Brown is 2-0 on the season, striking out 22 batters in 13 innings and has a 0.69 ERA...Brown has struck out 11 in both of this starts...senior Paul Vignola is 1-0 on the season with two saves in four scoreless relief outings ... senior Kyle DePierre is 1-0 after two starts, striking out nine in nine innings pitched...Jake Petro pitched two scoreless innings in his first start, but had to leave the game due to blistering problems on his throwing hand...freshman Juan Perez is the lone Freshman to appear in more than one game, with two relief appearances...the Falcons have 47 strikeouts as a team in 39 innings, and have allowed opponents to bat just .240.
Winning The Close Ones
Air Force is 3-0 in one run games with season. Both of its wins against York College were by one runs and the Falcons won 2-1 over Colorado Christian in their season opening doubleheader. In 2005, the Falcons were 2-3 in one run games.
Brown Earns MWC Pitcher Of The Week
Air Force junior right hander Mitch Brown was named Mountain West Conference Pitcher and Player of the Week by the Conference office on Feb. 6. Brown, from Semmes, Ala., tossed a one-hit shutout and struck out a career-high 11 batters in a 5-0 Air Force win vs. Colorado Christian. He earned his first victory of the season by not allowing a runner past second base and giving up the only hit of the game in the second inning. Brown's shutout was the first for an Air Force pitcher since the April 26, 2003 (vs. San Diego State), while his 11 strikeouts were the most by a Falcon hurler since the Feb. 3, 2002 (vs. Hastings College).
The Falcons will take on Northern Colorado on Tuesday, Feb. 21, up in Greeley. The Falcons lost 13-5 to UNC last Wednesday. Following the UNC game, the Falcons will travel to Millington, to take part in the annual Service Academies Spring Classic at USA Stadium. The Falcons take on Notre Dame on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. and Navy on the 25th at 10 a.m. Air Force concludes the tourney on the 26th with a 9 a.m. game against Indiana State.
Three current Falcons played summer ball during their prep careers for the NorCal baseball program. Junior Karl Bolt and freshmen Bob Carpenter and Jake Daly were former NorCal players. The NorCal summer team is the top summer team in Northern California for players 18 and under. Notable NorCal alumni include current Major Leaguers Patt Burrell, J.P. Howell, Xavier Nady, Jimmy Rollins, Dontrelle Willis and more.
Falcon freshman right-hander Jake Petro is the second Petro to play for the Falcons. Older brother, Dan Petro, played for the Falcons from 2000-03 and was an all-conference catcher in `03.
Sophomore Tony Lee is the Kansas prep record-holder for stolen bases with 89 career swipes at Andover Central HS.
Two pairs of Falcon teammate share the same birthdays. Seniors Matt Musser and Dustin Smith were both born on March 7, 1984. Freshman Jake Daly and senior Paul Pratt were both born on April 4.
Senior team co-captains Price Paramore and Paul Pratt both served religious missions and did not play for the Falcons during the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Paramore served a two-year mission to Siberia, Russia and Pratt served a two-year mission to Paraguay.
The Falcons are four wins away from 500 wins all-time at Falcon Field. Air Force is 496-368 all-time at Falcon Field.