Falcons host Metro State, SDSU
April 21, 2003
This Weekend: Air Force (11-26 overall and 0-17 in the MWC) hosts four games at Falcon Field this week. The Falcons host a non-conference game against Metro State (22-19) on Tuesday, April 22, and then a three-game Mountain West Conference series against San Diego State (18-23, 11-7 MWC), Friday-Sunday, April 25-27. The schedule is below.
Tue. Apr. 22 2 pm Metro State Falcon Field Fri. Apr. 25 2 pm San Diego State Falcon Field Sat. Apr. 26 1 pm San Diego State Falcon Field Sun. Apr. 27 1 pm San Diego State Falcon Field
Radio/Television: The Saturday and Sunday games of the San Diego State series will be broadcast in Colorado Springs on KBZC AM 1300. Jay Ritchie, in his 14th season of Air Force athletics and sixth season of Falcon baseball, will call the play-by-play. The pre-game show begins at 12:40 with the first pitch coming at 1 p.m. No television.
Follow the Falcons Anywhere: Games two and three vs. SDSU can be heard anywhere in the United States via the telephone. Falcon baseball radio broadcasts can be heard on TeamLine by dialing 1-800-846-4700. The team access code is 0671. This service is free of charge to listeners thanks to the Air Force Academy athletic department. Baseball games can also be listened to on the internet at www.AirForceSports.com. Go to the baseball page and click on Listen to the Falcons on the right side of the screen.
Series History: Air Force and Metro State have played 68 times and the Falcons hold a 59-9 lead in the series that began in 1969. Last season, Air Force defeated Metro State twice at Falcon Field, 21-6 and 20-11. Metro State beat Air Force, 12-9, last season in Denver. Air Force and San Diego State have played 59 times and the Aztecs hold a 45-14 lead in the series that began in 1961. Earlier this season, SDSU swept Air Force in San Diego by scores of 10-3, 18-4 and 19-2. Last season at Falcon Field, AFA swept the Aztecs by scores of 8-4, 7-3 and 8-4. Air Force pitchers Matt Kaercher, Erik Fisher and Johnny Koegel threw three consecutive complete games to lead the Falcons. Kaercher and Fisher have graduated while Koegel had off-season elbow surgery and has just three starts this season. He has not thrown since a start at San Diego State on March 23.
Earlier This Season Vs. the Aztecs: SDSU swept the series in San Diego, March 21-23, by scores of 10-3, 18-4 and 19-2. In the first game, late-inning runs cost the Falcons as San Diego State defeated Air Force, 10-3. SDSU got a strong pitching performance from Mike Moat, who went eight innings and struck out 10 Falcons. Air Force trailed 4-3 in the sixth but the Aztecs added two runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth. San Diego State's Landon Burt finished the night with three hits including a triple, two runs scored and two RBI. The Falcon offense was paced by Josh Phifer, Daniel Petro and Derck Kasel with a pair of hits apiece. AFA starting pitcher Jesper Stubbendorff took the loss as his record fell to 2-3 on the year.
San Diego State sent 10 men to the plate in both the first and third innings of game two, scoring six runs each time en route to an 18-4 win. Aztec freshman left-hander Ben Coon went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out 12 and walking only one. The Aztec offense was led by Anthony Gwynn and Jordan Swaydan. Gwynn finished the afternoon with three hits including a triple, two runs scored for four RBI. Swaydan was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a double and two RBI. For the Falcons, designated hitter Brent Tittle and shortstop Nelson Prouty had two hits apiece with Tittle notching two of the Falcons' RBIs. Falcon starter Paul Vignola went three innings and took the loss.
San Diego State continued its weekend offensive outburst as it defeated Air Force, 19-2, in the series finale. SDSU batted around in the each of the first two innings, scoring eight times. The Falcons battled back with a pair of runs in the top of the third, but the home team was in control the rest of the way. Falcon starter Johnny Koegel (0-3) gave up seven runs in his one inning-plus of work and took the loss. Aztec second baseman Peter Stonard collected a pair of doubles, a triple and six runs batted in before coming out of the game in the fifth. Left fielder Landon Burt finished his day with a single, double and triple while Anthony Gwynn had three hits and scored four times. Air Force's Josh Phifer recorded three hits with a double and an RBI to lead the Falcons while Mike Rose had a pair of hits with a run scored and an RBI.
Scouting the Opponents: Metro State College is a Division II member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Roadrunners are 22-19 overall and 9-11 in the RMAC. Last weekend, MSC split a four-game conference series on the road with Colorado Mines. Metro opened the season winning seven of its first eight and is 5-5 in its last 10 games. First-baseman James Edwards leads the team with a .424 average, 10 home runs and 42 RBI. San Diego State, 18-23 overall, is tied for second in the MWC with an 11-7 mark. The Aztecs broke a four-game losing streak by taking the second and third games at Utah last weekend. Outfielder Landon Burt leads the team with a .369 batting average. Rielly Embrey has a team-best five home runs while Anthony Gwynn leads the club with 21 stolen bases. SDSU is batting .285 as a team with 81 doubles, 25 home runs and 48 stolen bases in 41 games. The team ERA is 4.92 while the team fielding percentage is .960. The Aztecs are coached by former major league all-star Tony Gwynn, in his first season at the helm.
League Leader: Senior Josh Phifer leads the MWC in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He is one of four players in the league with a .400 or better average. His .453 average is 49 points better than UNM's Dusty Young who is second with a .404 mark. Phifer's .842 slugging percentage is 50 points ahead of UNM's Chris Alexander. His .525 on-base percentage is 29 points better than SDSU's Landon Burt's .496 percentage.
Couch's Best Outing: Freshman Clayton Couch turned in the best performance of his young career, and one of the Falcons' best starts of the season against UNLV, April 20. Despite taking the loss, Couch threw a seven-inning complete game. The right-hander from Inola, Okla., allowed three runs on five hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Entering the game, Couch had just nine appearances and two starts, but had not started a game since early February.
Kasel Hot Vs. Rebels: Senior Derck Kasel was named the Mountain West Conference player of the week against UNLV, April 18-20. He hit .769 (10-for-13) vs. the Rebels and started two games at designated hitter and one at first base. The Fort Collins, Colo., native scored seven runs, had two doubles, two home runs and two RBI. He entered the game with six career home runs, but hit two in the first game vs. the Rebels. In conference games, Kasel leads the team in batting average (.431), runs (14), hits (28), doubles (8), home runs (4), RBI (10), total bases (48) and slugging percentage (.738). In his last six games, Kasel is hitting .600 (15-for-25) and has a six-game hitting streak.
Streaks: Mike Rose and Josh Phifer each had 11-game hitting streaks earlier in the season which tie as the best on the team. Phifer has the longest current streak at eight games. During the streak, Phifer is hitting .452 (14-for-31). Dan Petro and Derck Kasel have the second-longest active streaks at six games.
Last Week: The 21st-ranked UNLV Rebels continue to lead the Mountain West Conference by sweeping the Air Force Falcons in a three-game series at Falcon Field, April 18-20. The Rebels won by scores of 16-13, 3-1 and 19-12.
On Deck: Following the SDSU series, Air Force travels to Northern Colorado, April 29, and then hosts New Mexico, May 2-4, at Falcon Field.