Weevils Set For First Conference Tournament Since 2005

Courtesy of
Brian Ramsey

tv_sports 10dbMONTICELLO – The University of Arkansas at Monticello baseball team will be competing in its first conference championship tournament for the first time since the 2005 season this weekend in the 2013 Great American Conference Championship Tournament in Enid, Okla. at the David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

   The Boll Weevils enter the six-team double-elimination event as the No. 5 seed after finishing the regular season with an overall record of 29-18 and a 17-13 mark in GAC games.

   UAM will play No. 2 seed Southwestern Oklahoma State (31-14, 21-9 GAC) in the opening round this Saturday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m. A win would place the Weevils in a winner’s bracket game on Sunday at 7 p.m. A loss drops UAM into the loser’s bracket, where the team would play Sunday at noon. The tournament finals are scheduled for Tuesday, May 7 at noon.

   All 11 games of the championship tournament will be played at the David Allen Memorial Ballpark (http://www.davidallenballpark.com), which is also the annual host of the National Junior College Athletics Association Division II Baseball World Series in addition to several other statewide, regional and national events throughout the year.

   All games will feature live video streaming coverage via the GAC Sports Network. Live stats will also be available for all 11 games. The UAM Sports Network will provide live audio play-by-play for all of UAM’s games online and on the radio in Monticello at KHBM-FM 93.7. Links to live coverage are available at www.uamsports.com.


   This year’s berth into the Great American Conference Championship Tournament marks the first conference tournament appearance for the UAM baseball team since the 2005 season, when the Boll Weevils went 2-2 in the Gulf South Conference tournament, including a 3-2 win over Southern Arkansas in the loser’s bracket semi-finals. UAM’s only other berth into the GSC tournament was in the 2000 season. UAM went 0-2 in that event.


   This year’s 29-18 overall record marks the first winning season for the UAM baseball program since 2006. UAM is just six years removed from an 0-37 finish in the 2008 season. The Boll Weevils have shown improvement since that winless season, including the program’s first 20-win season since 2006 with a 20-26 finish in 2010. This year’s 17-13 mark in GAC games is the second-highest conference win total for the program. The Boll Weevils finished 19-5 in 1993, which was UAM’s only conference championship since 1971. Records for the UAM baseball program only exist from the 1971 season to present day. However, UAM did capture the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championship in the 1954, 1963, 1964 and 1966 seasons. Since 1971, UAM has an all-time record of 678-938-4 with an all-time conference record of 308-504-1.


   With a win in this weekend’s GAC championship tournament, the Boll Weevils will have captured the program’s third 30-win season. The only 30-win seasons in UAM history were in 2001 (30-19) and 2005 (34-25).


   UAM posted seven one-run losses this season. If the results were different in six of those games, UAM would have most likely won the GAC regular season championship. UAM’s only one-run non-conference loss was a 2-1 setback to Central Missouri in the season-opening Astros in Action DII Invitational at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. Central Missouri is currently ranked as high as No. 4 in the national rankings and No. 1 in the latest NCAA Division II Central Region Rankings.


   UAM (29-18, 17-13 GAC), the No. 5 seed in this weekend’s GAC tournament, will open up against No. 2 seed Southwestern Oklahoma State (31-14, 21-9 GAC) in the opening round on Saturday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m. UAM and SWOSU met in late February in the second conference series of the season for both teams. SWOSU won the series two games to one with an 8-3 win in the series opener, followed by an 8-6 12-inning win for UAM in the second game. SWOSU won the series finale 4-3 with a game-ending sac fly in the bottom of the seventh inning of a scheduled seven-inning game. SWOSU ranks third in the GAC in team batting (.304 average) and first in the league in pitching (3.24 team earned run average). SWOSU’s Kevin Cantrell ranks second in the league with a .403 batting average. UAM’s likely first-round pitching opponent, Shane Martin, paces SWOSU with an 11-1 record and a 2.43 ERA. Martin leads the league in wins and ranks third in ERA. The Bulldogs enter the tournament having won four consecutive games and 20 of their last 23 games.


   UAM enters the GAC Tournament ranked second in the league in team batting (.305 average) and fifth in pitching (4.38 team ERA). UAM ranks second in slugging percentage (.426), second in on-base percentage (.410), second in runs scored (325), fourth in hits (446), second in runs batted in (285), third in doubles (82), second in triples (14), fourth in homeruns (22), fourth in total bases (622), third in total plate appearances (1,813), fifth in at bats (1,461), second in walks (194), first in hit by pitches (88), first in sac flies (31) and third in opposing batting average (.264). Senior Taylor Eaves ranks 14th in the league and leads the team with a .341 batting average. He leads the team in hits (56) and slugging percentage (.506). Sophomore Logan Johnson, who entered the starting rotation for the final five conference series of the season, ranks second in the league with a 2.37 ERA. Through 57 innings pitched, Johnson (2-1) has struck out 34 batters and only allowed seven walks. UAM head coach John Harvey has designated Johnson as the starter for the first-round game against SWOSU.


   In a 9-7 win over Ouachita Baptist on March 9 at home, UAM head coach John Harvey joined the 200-win club. In his third season at UAM and ninth overall as a head coach, Harvey has compiled an overall record of 216-218. In his three years at UAM, he is 62-70. Prior to UAM, Harvey totaled a 154-148 record in six seasons as head coach at Henderson State. In his nine-year head coaching career, Harvey has averaged 24 wins per season, has recorded three 30-win seasons, and led HSU to a school-record 34 wins in 2009. He ranks fifth all-time at UAM in wins (62) and left HSU as the second most winningest coach in program history (154).


   Senior relief pitcher Brent Noble become the all-time UAM leader in pitching appearances in a 10-9 loss to East Central on March 30, and right behind him is senior teammate Eddie Smith. Noble, from Star City just 25 miles north of Monticello, enters the GAC tournament with 75 career appearances in the green and white. He has made 16 appearances this season and has totaled a 5-2 record with one save and a 2.31 ERA. Throughout his four-year career at UAM, Noble has thrown 142.2 innings and has a career 14-5 record with three saves. Smith ranks second all-time at UAM with a career-total of 62 appearances. The West Blocton, Ala. native made his signature sprint from the bullpen 17 times this season and enters the tournament with a 4-3 record and a team-high three saves. He is one save away from tying the all-time school record.


   Senior third baseman Taylor Eaves enters the GAC Tournament with a team-high 29-game streak reaching base safely. The Beaumont, Texas native leads the team in hits, and has added 13 walks and 15 hit by pitches for a .433 on-base percentage. He also holds the team’s top hitting streak heading into the tournament with five straight games with a base hit.


   In four of the final five conference series of the 2013 season when senior starting pitcher Chris Guzman takes the mound, the Boll Weevils have scored at least 10 runs. The streak started in UAM’s 2-1 series victory over Harding. Behind Guzman’s complete-game four-hitter, the Weevils posted a 12-1 seven-inning run-rule victory over the Bisons. Two weekends later in the series finale against Southeastern Oklahoma State at home, Guzman allowed just three runs off seven hits in the first six innings as his teammates rallied for 13 runs off 10 hits for a 13-3 seven-inning run-rule win. The next weekend, Guzman tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout over Southern Nazarene as his team backed him up with 13 hits for a 10-0 seven-inning run-rule victory. This past weekend, the El Paso, Texas native threw 146 pitches in a complete-game win over 12th-ranked Southern Arkansas on the road. UAM’s offense aided his pitching effort with 20 hits for the first time since 2006 to beat the Muleriders 11-3 in the regular-season finale. It was UAM’s first conference win over SAU since the 2006 season. UAM also scored double-digit runs with Guzman on the hill in a 10-9 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State on February 16 at home. Overall this season, Guzman is 4-1 with a 4.10 ERA. He has thrown 63.2 innings with 39 strikeouts to 17 walks allowed.


   Junior outfielder Tyler Caruthers will be making a return-trip to the David Allen Memorial Ballpark this weekend. The Denham Springs, La. native was a part of LSU-Eunice’s junior college national championship last season, which was determined in Enid at the NJCAA Division II World Series. LSU-Eunice finished the 2012 season with a 57-5 record. Caruthers and the Bengals won five straight games at the David Allen Memorial Ballpark, including a 7-3 win over Western Oklahoma in the finals after losing 4-3 to Des Moines Area College in the opening round of the World Series. Caruthers played in 37 games last season with a .286 batting average. This season, Caruthers is hitting .279for UAM in 34 games.


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