Falcons travel to UNLV for three-game series, May 10-12
May 7, 2002
This Weekend: Air Force, 25-22 overall and 12-11 in the Mountain West Conference (tied for second), travels to Las Vegas, Nev., for a three-game series against UNLV, Friday-Sunday, May 10-12. The teams play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All times are Pacific.
Radio/Television: The Air Force radio network will not broadcast the UNLV series. The final three-regular-season games, against Utah May 16-18, and all of the games in the tournament will be broadcast locally on KUBL AM 1300 and will be available on the internet.
Peters Has Second Most Wins in First Three Years: With at least eight games remaining in his third season, Reed Peters has won 71 games, the second most by a Falcon baseball coach in the first three seasons. Paul Mainieri, currently the head coach at Notre Dame, won 75 in his first three years (1989-91). Peters led the Falcons to back-to-back 23-win seasons in 2000 and 2001. In the history of Falcon baseball, there have been seven head coaches (including Peters) who have coached at least three seasons. Peters has won more games than Wendell Lawrence, John Sparks, Joe Robison, Jim Hanley and Eric Campbell.
Peters Posts Most Conference Wins in First Three Seasons: Reed Peters has won more conference games than any other Falcon coach in their first three seasons. In his third season with six conference game remaining, Peters has won 26 league games. Joe Robison and Eric Campbell each won 24 games in their first three seasons. Jim Hanley won 23 in his first three years and Paul Mainieri won 21.
Most Wins Since 1995: Air Force's 25 wins this season are the most in seven years. The 1995 team won 29 games, the second most in school history. This season's 25 wins tie as the eighth most in the 45 years of Air Force baseball. The 1995 team was the last team to post a winning record, 29-25.
Most Division I Wins in Three-Year Period: Air Force has set a new school record for the most Division I wins in a three-year period with 52. The Falcons won 15 Division I games in 2000, 19 last season and 18 this season. The previous record was 49 Division I wins from 1982-85.
Conference Wins on Record Pace: Air Force has 12 conference wins already this season, the second most in school history. With six conference games remaining, the Falcons have a chance at the school record of 13 set by Paul Mainieri's team in 1989. Air Force won 12 games in 1982, 11 in 1984 and 10 in 1995.
Tough at Home: Air Force is 16-3 (84 percent) at home this season with the only losses being two to BYU and one to UNLV. The Falcons still have three home games remaining. The 16 home wins are the most since the 1994 team won 18. The 84 percent winning percentage is the best since the 1986 team won 88 percent (15-2). The best home winning percentage is school history was a 16-1 record (94 percent) in 1971. The 1993 team set the record for most home wins with 21.
Unfamiliar Territory: Air Force finds itself in unfamiliar territory, near the top of the conference standings. Air Force is currently tied for second among the six conference teams and just 3.5 games out of first. AFA has finished last or second to last in each of the last 12 seasons. In the first two years of the Mountain West Conference, Air Force was sixth (last) each season. In 19 years in the Western Athletic Conference (1981-99), the Falcons finished in last place 11 times and second to last four times. Air Force's best conference finish was in 1982 when the team tied for second in the WAC North Division. AFA won a school record 13 league games in 1989 and placed fifth of eight teams in the WAC.
Series History: Air Force and UNLV have played 45 times and the Rebels hold a 32-13 lead in the series that began in 1970. Earlier this season, the Falcons took two of three from the Rebels at the Academy. UNLV won five of six from the Falcons last season. Last season, UNLV swept the Falcons in Las Vegas, 20-6, 6-3 and 10-9. UNLV has won 11 of the last 14 in the series and nine of the last 10 against Air Force in Las Vegas. AFA's only win was a 13-11 decision in the 2000 MWC Tournament. Since 1998, Air Force is 2-14 at UNLV.
Scouting the Opponent: UNLV is 25-25 overall and in fifth place in the MWC with a 10-14 record. Last week, UNLV defeated BYU 17-6 in the first game and set a new MWC record with 28 hits. BYU won the next two games, 7-5 and 8-6. UNLV won two of three from Utah and New Mexico in the previous two series. The Rebels are second in the league (all games) with a .964 team fielding percentage and third with a 6.26 ERA. The team's batting average is fifth at .306. Outfielder Sam Wickman leads the team with a .420 batting average. Wickman is hitting .461 in league games. First-baseman David Trujillo leads the team with 12 home runs and 54 RBI. The team's top starter is Robbie Van who leads the Rebels with 11 starts, five wins and a 5.80 ERA. He also has 67 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.
Fisher Poised to Break Strikeout Record: Senior Erik Fisher needs just three strikeouts to break the school record of 278 set by Bob Wright from 1981-84. Fisher struck out a season-high 10 against San Diego State, May 5. Fisher's teammate, Matt Kaercher, is third in career strikeouts with 252.
1. Bob Wright, 1981-84, 278 2. Erik Fisher, 1999-Present, 276 3. Matt Kaercher, 1999-Present, 252 T4. Rich Haynie, 1971-74, 224 T4. Mike Tufte, 1998-2001, 224
Kaercher Closing on in Career Wins Record: Senior right-hander Matt Kaercher posted the 23rd win of his career with the victory over San Diego State, May 3. His 23 victories place him ahead of Dave Lyons who had 21 wins from 1994-97. Bob Wright holds the career record with 24 wins from 1981 to 1984. Kaercher also ranks third on the career appearances list with 75. Steve Carson (1989-92) holds the record with 90. Keith Umlauf (1992-95) is second with 83.
Kaercher Nearing Single-Season Innings Pitched Record: Senior right-hander Matt Kaercher is closing in on the single-season record for innings pitched. Kaercher has thrown 98 innings this season and has at three starts remaining. He is currently tied for third on the career list. Erik Fisher holds the record of 104.2 set in 2000. In 2001, Michael Tufte threw 103.2 innings. Pete Bracci threw 98 innings in 1964, a record that stood for 36 years.
Phifer Fifth Falcon in 10/10 Club: Air Force junior outfielder Josh Phifer became just the fifth player in school history to join the 10/10 club (10 home runs and 10 stolen bases) in a season. He currently has 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 47 games. He is the first Falcon since Glenn Harris (16 HR and 11 SB) in 1994 to join the club. Steve Saleck did it twice with 10 HR and 21 SB in 1978 and 15 HR and 17 SB in 1979. Dan Broderick had 10 HR and 10 SB in 1988. Brad Fulk had 12 HR and 13 SB in 1971.Based on the number of at-bats, the 10/10 club in college baseball is similar to the 40/40 club in Major League Baseball, which only has three members (Jose Canseco in 1988, Barry Bonds in 1996 and Alex Rodriguez in 1998) Last season, the top 25 hitters in the majors had 575 or more at-bats. Phifer has 165 at-bats in 46 games this season. Projected over 575 at-bats, Phifer would have 42 home runs and 53 SB in a theoretical major league season.
Crime Does Pay: Air Force's 91 stolen bases this season are the third most in school history and the most since the Falcons set a school record with 122 thefts in 1979. The 1978 team also stole 122 bases. The Falcons lead the Mountain West Conference in steals and, with at least eight games remaining, could break the century mark this season. The Falcons have only been caught stealing 30 times for an incredible 75 percent success rate. Offense Improved: After a down year offensively in 2001 in which the Falcons hit just .289 and averaged less than six runs per game, the Falcon offense is much improved. As a team, the Falcons are hitting .329 (second in the MWC) and averaging 8.1 runs per game (third). The team has just 36 home runs (fifth), but has 124 doubles (second) and 91 stolen bases (first).
On Deck: Following the UNLV series, AFA concludes the regular season with a three-game series vs. Utah, May 16-18, at Falcon Field.