MAC Weekly Baseball Release

Updated 5/1/2001
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    Two weeks of the Mid-American Conference regular season are left, and there are still plenty of questions though both divisional leaders remain the same. Bowling Green, at 15-4, leads the East Division by three games over Kent State (12-7) and five and a half over Miami (10-10), which sits in third place. In the West, Ball State (16-2) has won its last 10 league games and has a five-game lead over second-place Western Michigan (12-8). The Cardinals also have a six-game lead over Central Michigan (10-6), and last year's co-divisional champions will meet this weekend in Muncie. The six-team MAC Tournament will take place May 16-19 at the top seed, which is the team with the best overall conference winning percentage. The top two teams from each division automatically qualify for the tourney, with the final two participants having the fifth and sixth best records, regardless of division. The two division winners will also occupy the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the four-day tournament.

    Kent State junior John VanBenschoten on Thursday was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the nation's top college baseball player. The award is presented by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, in conjunction with the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Chamber of Commerce. Voting on the award is done by more than the 200-person membership of the NCBWA. VanBenschoten leads the MAC with a .458 batting average and also paces the conference with a school-record 21 home runs.

    On Monday, Kent State's John VanBenschoten was named the MAC East Division Player of the Week for the second time this season, and later that day was named Co-National Hitter of the Week by Collegiate Baseball after hitting .577 (15-for-26) with eight home runs and 16 RBIs, including three homers in one game against Findlay. His teammate Eric O'Brien matched VanBenschoten later in the week when the sophomore closed out the series against Marshall on Sunday with three homers. Tuesday (May 1), he added National Hitter of the Week honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. It marked the second time this season that a MAC player has garnered the award from the NCBWA. Toledo's Phil Pilewski won the award on Apr. 10.

    A number of individual and team records have been broken so far this year for Bowling Green, and there are a number of others that are in line to be bettered. Individually, senior Aric Christman set the single season record for runs scored when he crossed the plate for the 51st time against Siena Heights last Wednesday. Christman, who broke the old mark of 50, now has 53. As a team, Bowling Green has smashed 76 home runs, 30 more than its previous record. In addition, the Falcons have set team marks for total bases (914) and RBIs (378), while the records for runs scored, total hits and batting average are well in reach of being broken.

    Central Michigan's Bryan Scheurer enjoyed a 5-for-5 day with two solo home runs in the series finale on Sunday against Western Michigan. Scheurer, who entered the day with one homer on the season, improved his batting average to .386, which is second on the squad.

    This season, 41 players have recorded hitting streaks of 10 games or better, including eight players who have an active streak. The longest streak in the MAC this year was Kent State's John VanBenschoten, who hit safely in 22 consecutive games. Listed below are the players that through Apr. 30 have current hitting streaks of 10 games or more: Name, School Streak Clarke White, UA 16 Lee Morrison, BG 15 Aric Christman, BG 12 Nick Elrod, BG 12 Tony Palazzolo, EMU 12 Tony Miller, UT 12 Matt Crowley, CMU 10 David Barkholz, BG 10

    Marshall senior first baseman Jason Brooks also continues his assault on the Thundering Herd's record book. His four home runs last week give him 19 for the year (2nd all-time) and 35 in his career (also 2nd). He broke the single-season RBI record (60) over the weekend and his 64 thus far this year give him 112 for his career, which is fifth all-time. Shortstop Jason Ricceri is right on Brooks' heels in the power department. His 17 homers is the fourth best single-season total in school history and he has now moved into the career top 10 with 23.

    Jason Paul has shown plenty of control on the mound this year for Ball State. The junior tossed a six-hitter in his last start, striking out seven and not allowing a walk versus Eastern Michigan. His seven strikeouts were one shy of the eight he fanned against Miami on Apr. 8. In his last eight appearances which span 41.2 innings, Paul has struck out 38 batters while surrendering only three free passes.

    Ohio senior Ryan Kyes has become the doubles man for the Bobcats this year. Kyes, who only had a combined 19 two-baggers in his first two years, had 16 as a junior and has exploded for 26 so far in 2001. The 26 doubles are the second-most in league history, one shy of tying the 27 that Kent State's Steve Smetana had in 1995. Kyes, who currently leads Division I in doubles per game (0.62), is fourth all-time in MAC history with 61 career doubles.

    Miami's Clark Mace and Jeremy Ison both moved into the top spot of the RedHawk record books in separate statistical categories, but did it on the same day. Mace became the school's all-time leader in RBIs on Friday against Ohio, and is now Miami's all-time leader in seven different categories. In addition, Mace is also the MAC career leader in runs scored with 212. Ison, meanwhile, became the school's career leader in home runs when he hit his 36th.

    Junior centerfielder Tony Miller has tied the Toledo record for runs scored in a season with 57. He also is one hit away from tying the record for most hits in a season -- Miller currently has 68. Miller already holds the stolen base record with 27. Senior leftfielder Andy Stetka broke the Rockets' single-season mark for walks in a season with 35. As a team, the Rockets set a mark for home runs in a season with 47, one more than the previous mark established in 1993.

    Tony Palazzolo's MAC hitting streak is still intact following Eastern Michigan's action at Ball State. The sophomore has had a hit in every MAC game that he has started (17) for the Eagles and is batting .391 (27-69) with 17 runs, 16 RBIs, five doubles, a home run, 17 BB and four stolen bases. He currently has a 12-game hitting streak, batting .463 (19-for-41) over that span.

    The bat of Akron's Lou Pederi helped the Zips to four wins last week. The junior opened the week for Akron with a 2-for-5 performance against Ohio State, which included the game-winning RBI on a single. Pederi then went a combined 7-for-12 in the final three games with Buffalo, hitting a pair of home runs and driving in eight runs. For the week, Pederi hit .476 (10-for-21) with 12 RBIs and five runs scored.

    Buffalo sophomore Bryan Sanchez hit his 10th and 11th home runs of the season against Akron last weekend. His homer in the series finale tied UB's single season mark, which he set last season, while his 22 career home runs is a school mark.

    Noel Danielson had two or more hits in all four of Northern Illinois' games last weekend against Toledo and paces the team in that category with 20 this year. The junior hit .526 for the week and .588 versus the Rockets, improving the yearâs average to .387.

    Western Michigan newcomer Tyler Grinnell had a hand in two of the three Bronco victories against Central Michigan, picking up saves in two games. The junior college transfer, who appeared in 2.2 innings, recorded five strikeouts and gave up only two hits.