Falcons Travel To Wright State For Three-Game Series
Falcons Travel To Wright State For Three-Game Series
The Air Force baseball team (7-8) travels to Wright State (2-6) for a three-game series March 10-12 at Nishwitz Stadium in Dayton, Ohio. First pitch on Friday is a 5 p.m. Live stats will be available for the series at www.wsuraiders.com and www.airforcesprots.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 261-241 record and is 22-101 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 910-1,073-3 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.
The Falcons are batting .259 as a team and have a pitching staff earned run average of 6.44. Sophomore designated hitter Josh Meents leads the team with a .343 batting average to go with three homers and 11 RBI. Senior closer Paul Vignola anchors the pitching staff, leading the Mountain West Conference with four saves. Vignola has allowed just one run in 17.1 innings (0.52 ERA), while striking out 27.
Recapping Last Week
Air Force is 7-8 on the season after winning two of three at Utah Valley State last weekend and losing 7-3 to Northern Colorado on Tuesday. In game one, Josh Meents hit a grand slam to rally the Falcons to a 10-8 win over UVSC. In the second game of the Friday doubleheader, the Falcons exploded for six runs off three home runs in the third inning, to roll to a 11-4 win. In game three, the Wolverines scored nine runs in the first two innings to win 11-7. Air Force stranded 12 baserunners in the 7-3 loss to UNC on Tuesday.
Wright State enters the week with a 2-6 record after getting swept in a three game series at Wake Forest. Head coach Rob Cooper (Miami-Fla. '94) is 28-39 in his second year at WSU. The Raiders are batting .255 as a team, led by senior catcher Aaron Garcia, who is batting .458 with four doubles and four RBI. The WSU pitching staff has a 6.88 earned run average, led by junior RHP Ross Vagedes, who is 0-1 in hist first two starts.
Air Force and Wright State meet for the first time ever...Billy Adams (Wadsworth, Ohio: Wadsworth HS) and Jason Griggs (Dublin, Ohio: Dublin Scioto HS) both hail from Ohio.
Falcon Pitching Showing Improvement
After 15 games in 2006, the Falcon pitching staff has shown significant improvent when you compare how the staff did after 15 games in 2005. Here is a quick comparison of several pitching stats comparing the last two seasons
ERA 9.27 6.44
Starters ERA 10.17 5.34
Opp. Avg. .354 .312
Hits Allowed P/GM 12.7 10.1
Walks P/GM 3.9 3.1
Strikeouts P/GM 5.1 6.5
Air Force has hit three grand slams so far in 2006. Price Paramore hit one against Navy at the Service Academies Spring Classic. Josh Meents hit grand slams in back-to-back games against Indiana State and Utah Valley State.
Vignola Returns To Dominant Form
After shedding 30 pounds in a rigourous off-season workout regimen, Paul Vignola has turned into a dominant relief pitcher for the Falcons in 2006. Vignola leads the league in saves (4) and earned run average 0.52) and has allowed just one run in 17.1 innings pitched, while striking out 27. As a freshman in 2003, Vignola led the team with a 5-8 record, to go with 36 strikeouts. After having subpar sophomore and junior campaigns, Vignola has is holding opposing batters to a .210 batting average and just two walks in 10 appearances.
Through 17 games, Air Force has attempted 37 bunts, recording 16 hits and six sacrifices. Air Force is batting .517 when they bunt. Chay Derbigny leads the team with seven bunt hits and Dustin Smith is second with four bunt hits.
Pick Off Artists
Air Force has already picked off nine baserunners this season, which is tops in the Mountain West Conference. Catcher Jon Polston has picked off five of those runners, also tops in the conference. The Falcons picked off seven during the entire 2005 season.
Winning The Close Ones
Air Force is 3-1 in one run games this 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.
Air Force has next weekend off. They resume action on March 24, when they host Southern Utah for three games in two days at Falcon Field.
Season Standing Notes
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.
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).
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.
Lone Star and Golden State Falcons
To become competitive in college baseball, you must be able to recruit well out of the of the hot-beds of baseball: Texas and California. Luckily for the Air Force baseball, coach Mike Hutcheon has, as 13 of the Falcons' 29 varsity players hail from Texas and California. Seven Falcons, Casey Allen, Matt Ghigna, Brad Madison, Price Paramore, Juan Perez, Jake Petro and Andrew Vasquez, hail from the Lone Star state. Six Falcons, Karl Bolt, Bob Carpenter, Jake Daly, Kyle DePierre, Austin Ferreria and Kyle Yamamoto, hail from the Golden 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 496-369 all-time at Falcon Field.