Falcons host Monmouth University
March 5, 2003
This Weekend: Air Force (6-8 overall, 0-3 MWC) steps away from conference play with a three-game series against the Monmouth Hawks from Long Branch, N.J. (0-4 overall). The teams play single games, March 8-10, at the Academy's Falcon Field. Sat. March 8 1 p.m. Monmouth Falcon Field (USAFA) Sun. March. 9 1 p.m. Monmouth Falcon Field (USAFA) Mon. March 10 2 p.m. Monmouth Falcon Field (USAFA)
Radio/Television: There is no radio or television in the Colorado Springs area. Selected baseball games will be broadcast later in the season, but the schedule has not yet been set. Once the schedule is confirmed, it will be posted on the baseball page of the website on the right side of the screen.
Scouting the Opponent: Monmouth University (0-4 overall this season) is from Long Branch, N.J., and is a Division I member of the Northeast Conference. The Hawks were 30-21 last season and won the league with a 23-4 mark. The Hawks return 17 of the 22 lettermen from that team. Head coach Dean Ehehalt is in his 12th season with the team. He entered the year with a 220-220 record. MU opened the season with four losses on the road at Central Florida. The Hawks lost 3-2 in 11 innings, dropped a doubleheader, 5-2 and 7-3, and fell in the series finale, 17-10. The team is hitting .227 with seven extra-base hits and two home runs. Cipriano Apicelli leads the team with a .500 average (8-for-16) and three RBI. The team struck out 47 times in four games and stole five bases in six attempts. On the mound, the team posted a 6.75 ERA with 28 strikeouts and 26 walks. Jim Carone was the team's top starter, going seven innings and giving up just one run (1.29 ERA) on three hits with five strikeouts. The Hawks fielded .952, making seven errors in the series.
Series History: Air Force and Monmouth have never played.
Crime Pays: Air Force has stolen 16 bases this season in 20 attempts for an incredible 80 percent success rate. Last season, Air Force's 98 stolen bases were the third most in school history and the most since the Falcons set a school record with 122 thefts in 1979. Last season, the Falcons led the Mountain West Conference in steals and were only caught stealing 34 times for a 75 percent success rate.
Welcome Additions: Air Force has had two true freshmen emerge as major contributors, second baseman Zach McAngus and starting pitcher Paul Vignola. McAngus has started 12 of the 14 games and is hitting .317 with four doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. Defensively, he was perfect in his first 42 chances before making two errors in the first game at New Mexico. Vignola is 3-1 in five starts and combined with Jason Pruitt to shutout Southern Utah. He has thrown 24.0 innings, the second most on the team, and had a 5.25 ERA with a team-best 13 strikeouts. Several other newcomers have come from the junior varsity program, including infielder Nathan DeRohan (.450 average and two home runs) and Brent Tittle (.333 average and one home run). In his first season with the varsity, senior Josh Zumbrun has a 4.50 ERA with a 1-1 record and four strikeouts in 12 innings.
Hot in the Field: Air Force's defense, which showed great improvement last season, is picking up where it left off in 2002. The Falcons are fielding .960 with 19 errors in 14 games. Prior to four errors in the third game vs. Hastings, Air Force was fielding a sizzling .972. Outfielders Josh Phifer and Mike Rose are also perfect in 22 and 20 chances, respectively. Last season, AFA fielded over .953 for most of the season and finished the year at .948, the best in eight years and the seventh best in school history.
Late Inning Collapses: In the New Mexico series last weekend, Air Force had the lead entering the sixth inning and lost all three games. From the sixth inning through the end of the game, the Falcons were out-scored 20-8 by the Lobos. On the season, Air Force has lost five games in the opponents' final at-bat of the game.
Koegel to Return: Senior Johnny Koegel is scheduled to make his first start of the season. He is slated as the starter in Sunday's game vs. Monmouth. Koegel missed the first 14 games due to offseason surgery on his throwing (right) elbow. The right-hander from West Hills, Calif., was 6-6 last season and led the starters with a 5.93 ERA in 17 starts. He was named the team's most improved player last season. His 95.2 innings pitched were second on the team and the sixth most in school history.
Last Week: The Falcons took a lead into the sixth inning of all three games and all three times New Mexico came from behind to sweep a three-game series from Air Force, Feb. 28-Mar. 2, at Lobo Field in Albuquerque.
Player Notes: Derck Kasel led the Falcons with a .467 average (7-for-15) with two home runs and four RBI in the New Mexico series. The senior entered the series with four career home runs, but hit two out of Lobo Field. At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, Nick Liegl is far from a power hitter. In his first 136 career at-bats he did not have a home run. His first career round-tripper came against Memphis, Feb. 23, and he hit his second just six days later against New Mexico. Josh Phifer entered the New Mexico series batting .450 on the season, but the Lobos kept him in check. Phifer hit .300 against UNM, but was walked three times and hit by pitch twice. Shortstop Nelson Prouty had a solid series against UNM, hitting .333 (111 points above his season average entering the series) and did not make an error in 17 chances. He started all three games. Junior Ryan Fitzgerald made his first start of the season and went 0-for-2 at the plate and was perfect in three chances in the field at third base. Freshman Jeff Tetrault made his first career start on the mound. He pitched the third game of the series and went 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He did not get a decision. Tony Shockley's seven-game hitting streak, which ended against Southern Utah, is the longest by a Falcon this season. Shockley is hitting .314 this season. Starters Jesper Stubbendorff and Paul Vignola had solid outings against the Lobos, but did not factor in the decision. Stubbendorff went seven innings in the first game and gave up two runs on four hits, but also had seven walks. Vignola went 5.1 innings in game two and gave up two earned runs on seven hits.
On Deck: Following the Monmouth series, Air Force travels to Las Vegas for a three-game MWC series with the UNLV Rebels, Mar. 14-16.