Dates/Times: Friday, April 28th @ 6:30 p.m. / Saturday, April 29th @ 2:00 p.m. / Sunday, April 30th @ 12:00 p.m.
Live Stream: ESPN+; WAC International on Saturday
Location: Nacogdoches, Texas
Field: Jaycees Field
Series: 128th – 130th Meetings (SHSU leads 90-37)
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin baseball team hosts the final Battle of the Piney Woods of the 2022-2023 athletic year against long-time rival Sam Houston State University. The Lumberjacks look to break up the five-game winning streak the Bearkats hold on them and take down a top contender in the Western Athletic Conference.
A Look at the Lumberjacks
The Lumberjacks head into the weekend with an even 19-19 overall record and a sixth-best 11-10 conference record in the WAC. The ‘Jacks are coming off a win at ULM where they took down the Warhawks 14-8 in an offensively dominated night and look to carry that momentum into the weekend.
SFA has jumped into the top spot in the scoring category in the WAC as they now lead the conference with 7.7 runs per game. The Lumberjacks combine for a .298 team batting average with six players holding both a .300+ batting average and .800+ OPS. The .298 average is 47th best in the nation and second in the conference behind none other than Sam Houston.
Star lead-off hitter, Alex Rodgers, has played a big factor in the SFA offense all year and leads the team in the following statistics: batting average – .374, OPS – 1.082, runs – 54 (1st in WAC, 12th in nation), hits – 61 (47th in nation), doubles – 15 (1st in WAC), home runs – 8, RBIs – 38, total bases – 102, hit-by-pitches – 12, and stolen bases – 13. Rodgers’ 1.42 runs per game moves him up to eighth in the country, making him a threat to score whenever he’s on base.
Peyton Parker is another key component in the Lumberjacks’ lineup, carrying a strong .351 average and .972 OPS. Parker is second behind Rodgers in doubles with 9, home runs with six, RBIs with 36, and total bases with 83. Parker always takes a smart approach to the plate with a runner on third base, as he has six sacrifice flies on the year which is first in the WAC and 12th in the nation.
Garrett Gearner continues to be one of the top arms in the SFA bullpen, having a 3.63 ERA in 16 appearances. In 22.1 innings, Gearner has allowed only nine earned runs. His six wins on the season is the second most in the conference and 30th in the country.
The Lumberjack pitching staff records a 7.44 team ERA and allows 1.87 walks/hits per inning. Opposing offenses hit .317 against the ‘Jacks.
A Look at the Bearkats
The Bearkats have proven to be one of the best, if not the best, in the WAC this year with their performance on the field. They come into Jaycees Field with a 24-18 overall record and a conference record of 15-6. SHSU currently sits first in the conference, one game ahead of GCU.
The Bearkats definitely have some momentum coming into the series, as they took down Texas A&M 9-2 this past Tuesday in College Station. However, before that matchup, Sam Houston suffered their first conference series loss this past weekend against Utah Valley on their home turf. The Bearkats took the first game of the series, but then suffered back-to-back losses to the Wolverines.
As previously mentioned, the Bearkat bats are one to watch out for as they lead the conference in batting average with .306 (26th in nation) and hits with 450 (11th in nation). Sam Houston also leads the conference in stolen bases with 70, as three players have double-digit steals on the season.
While anyone in their lineup is able to show up at any moment, Tyler Davis and Joe Redfield are going to be the usual suspects as these two are top of the charts in most of the offensive categories. Davis’ .439 batting average leads the WAC and is the sixth best in the nation, while his 68 hits also lead the WAC and is tenth best in the nation. Redfield’s 1.156 OPS is the best on the team and his 67 hits ranks him second in the WAC behind Davis and puts him 14th in the nation. Redfield has 24 extra base hits this season (14 doubles, two triples, eight home runs) and is one of the main threats on the base paths as he is 11-14 on stolen base attempts.
Walker Janek is another key factor at the plate when there are runners in scoring position as he leads the team in RBIs with 42. Janek carries the big bat on the team as he has the most Bearkat home runs with nine.
The Bearkat pitching staff makes up a 5.39 team ERA and opposing offenses record a .280 batting average. Coltin Atkinson (3.38 ERA) and Steven Beard (5.60 ERA) are bound to make a start during the series, as both have made ten starts and record 53 innings on the year.
Sam Houston heads into the weekend with a five-game winning streak over the Lumberjacks.
In the 127 previous matchups dating back to April 1976, Sam Houston has been victorious 90 of those games (70.87%).
In games taking place in Nacogdoches, SFA has a record of 19-44 against the Bearkats. In the last six games at Jaycees Field, the series has been split at 3-3.