Tag Archives: NCAA Super Regional

Peterson in Guardians system after special run with UConn

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

University of Connecticut baseball enjoyed one of the best seasons in the program’s 126-year history in 2022 and a player from northwest Indiana played a major part.
Austin Peterson, a right-handed pitcher and 2018 Chesterton (Ind.) High School graduate, was a dominant force in the Huskies starting rotation as UConn won a New England record 50 games and went to the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year and eighth time on head coach Jim Penders’ watch.
Peterson, a 6-foot-6, 234-pounder, made 18 mound appearances (17 starts) and went 11-3 with a 3.83 earned run average, 147 strikeouts and 25 walks over 110 1/3 innings.
Before he was taken in the ninth round of the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Cleveland Guardians, many accolades came Peterson’s way.
He was chosen as an All-American by National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (first team), Collegiate Baseball (second team), American Baseball Coaches Association (third team) and D1Baseball.com (third team).
Peterson was also New England Pitcher of the Year, NCBWA District 2 co-Pitcher of the Year, East Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year as well as all-Big East Conference (first team), all-New England (first team) and all-Big East tournament.
The tall righty also set a UConn single-season record for strikeouts and tied for second in single-season wins. He went six or more innings in 14 of 17 starts.
Peterson was a team captain for a UConn team that finished 50-16 and bowed out in the NCAA Super Regional at Stanford.
“It meant a lot, especially going to a historic baseball program like UConn” says Peterson of the leadership role voted upon by his teammates. “Being a leader of that culture is something I’ll never forget. I was a guy from the Midwest and was welcomed with open arms.
“I gained a lot of respect out there.”
Since 2004 — Penders’ first season as head coach — 65 Huskies have signed pro contracts with MLB teams and Peterson is part of that group.
Joshua McDonald is Huskies pitching coach.
“Coach Mac teaches you the mental side of baseball a little bit better than a lot of guys,” says Peterson. “He helps you find something you’re good at and make the most out of that.
“I had to get my slider back. We worked together to figure what was going on. It came back this year and the strikeout numbers took a jump.”
In 2021, Peterson was all-Big East (second team) and in 15 games (14 starts) went 7-1 with a 2.58 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 21 walks over 80 1/3 innings.
Throwing from a three-quarter arm slot, Peterson uses a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, change-up, slider and curve.
This past spring, the four-seamer sat at 90 to 93 mph and touched 94.
The two-seamer “has a little big of late life to it,” says Peterson. “I like to throw it toward a lefty’s front hit and it runs back inside for a strike. It runs and sinks more than it cuts.”
The change-up is of the “circle” variety. The curve has a sweeping motion and is like 1-to-7 on the clock face.
Peterson landed in Storrs, Conn., after playing at Wabash Valley College (a junior college in Mount Carmel, Ill.) in 2020 at Purdue University in 2019.
He went the JUCO route because he would immediately become eligible for the MLB Draft and at the time transferring from one NCAA D-I school to another meant sitting out for a year.
“I just wanted to compete,” says Peterson.
The COVID-19 pandemic helped cut the 2020 season short and the draft was cut to five rounds and Peterson was not selected.
At Wabash Valley, Rob Fournier was then the Warriors head coach. Peterson worked closely with then-pitching coach Aaron Biddle (who is now WVC head coach).
“Both were fiery guys,” says Peterson of Fournier (now an assistant/recruiting coordinator at Western Kentucky University) and Biddle. Coach Fournier hated losing more than anybody I’ve ever seen in my life.
“The competitiveness they brought to the table helped me in my competitiveness.”
Peterson got into 25 games (25 in relief) as a Purdue freshman and went 1-5 with one save, a 4.50 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 2019.
At Wabash Valley, he got into five games (three starts) and went 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA, 29 strikeouts and seven walks in 20 2/3 innings.
Born in Valparaiso, Ind., Peterson grew up in Chesterton. He got his organized baseball start at State Park Little League. His first travel team was the Duneland Flyers at 13U. Then came one season with Chicago’s Coyote Select then three (15U to 17U) with the Indiana Prospects. The 2017 Ed Woolwine-coached 17U Prospects won the Marucci World Series with the help of Peterson.
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jack Campbell led Peterson and his Chesterton Trojans teammates for Peterson’s last three prep seasons.
“Coach Campbell and I had a great relationship,” says Peterson. “We didn’t have the most talented group, but we played together our whole lives. Coach Campbell realized that and let us take it on our own.”
With Peterson on the team, Chesterton won sectional titles in 2016 and 2018, a Duneland Athletic Conference crown in 2017 and a regional championship in 2018.
Peterson was a two-time DAC Pitcher of the Year and three-time all-DAC, all-area and team MVP. He struck out 277 and posted an 0.80 ERA during his high school mound career.
He was named Region Player of the Year in 2016 and Chesterton Male Athlete of the Year in 2018.
On the basketball court, power forward/center Peterson was a two-time all-conference, all-area and team MVP honoree as a junior and senior. The Marc Urban-coached Trojans went 16-9 on the hardwood in 2016-17 and 21-4 in 2017-18.
While rehabbing a knee injury, Peterson did not play baseball and attended classes at Purdue during the summer of 2018.
The next two summers, he was with the 2019 New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and 2020 Coastal Plain League’s Peninsula Pilots (Virginia Beach, Va.).
Peterson used the 2021 season as developmental time, getting his body right and working with UConn athletic trainer Joel DeMarco.
Peterson earned an Applied and Resource Economics at Connecticut in the spring.
Since signing with the Guardians July 30, Peterson has been in Goodyear, Ariz., building back up after not pitching since mid-June.
He expects to begin pitching in games during instructional league at Goodyear Ballpark in mid-September then come back to Indiana in October and see what the Guardians have in-mind for him for November and December.
Glenn and Audra Peterson have three sons — Glenn (31), Jordan (29) and Austin (22).
The elder Glenn played baseball at Chesterton High and recently retired after three decades as a UPS driver. Audra Peterson is director of career and technical education for Porter County.
The younger Glenn Peterson played baseball at Chesterton and walked on at Purdue before giving in up while pursuing at Civil Engineering degree. He works in that field in Munster.
Jordan Peterson played baseball in high school and a Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and is now a financial consultant in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Austin Peterson (University of Connecticut Photo)
Austin Peterson (University of Connecticut Photo)
Austin Peterson (University of Connecticut Photo)

Austin Peterson (University of Connecticut Photo)

Austin Peterson (Cleveland Guardians Photo)

Notre Dame bound for Statesboro Regional; Look who conferences honored

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Notre Dame — the last college baseball team from Indiana left standing in 2022 — found out today (May 30) that the Irish will be in the Statesboro Regional for the 64-team NCAA Division I tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Irish (35-14) play No. 3 Texas Tech (37-20) at 2 p.m. Friday, June 3. Site host and top-seeded Georgia Southern (40-18) plays No. UNC Greensboro (34-28) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Notre Dame made it to the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Regionals continue through June 6 with super regionals June 10-13 and the College World Series June 17-27.
Ball State made it to the “if necessary” Mid-American Conference tournament championship game against Central Michigan and lost 11-7 to wind up the season at 40-19 overall and 32-7 as MAC regular-season champions. Central Michigan earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid.
Evansville (32-24, 14-6), Indiana State (26-22-1, 10-10-1) and Valparaiso (16-32, 5-15) bowed out in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Seasons came to a close for Purdue (29-21, 9-12) and Indiana (27-32, 10-14) at the Big Ten tournament.
Purdue Fort Wayne (18-36, 13-15) finished up in the Horizon League tournament.
In the past few weeks, conferences have handed out postseason awards at the NCAA D-I, D-II and D-III, NAIA and junior college levels and there is a list of those below.

CONFERENCE AWARDS
NCAA D-I
Atlantic Coast: NOTRE DAME — lhp John Michael Bertrand (first team), of Ryan Cole (third team).
Big East: BUTLER— ss Travis Holt (second team), rhp Derek Drees (second team).
Big Ten: PURDUE — dh C.J. Valdez (first team), lhp Jackson Smeltz (third team), lhp Troy Wansing (freshman), of Tanner Haston (sportsmanship). INDIANA — c Matthew Ellis (third team), 1b Brock Tibbitts (freshman), ss Evan Goforth (freshman), 3b Josh Pyne (freshman), of Carter Mathison (freshman), if Tyler Doanes (sportsmanship).
Horizon: PURDUE FORT WAYNE — c Cade Fitzpatrick (second team), 3b Jack Lang (second team), rhp Rex Stills (freshman).
Mid-American: BALL STATE — lhp Tyler Schweitzer (pitcher of the year, first team), rhp Ryan Brown (freshman pitcher of the year, second team), 3b Ryan Peltier (defensive player of the year, second team, defensive), hc Rich Maloney (coach of the year), 1b Trenton Quartermaine (first team), of Zach Cole (first team, defensive), rhp Sam Klein (first team), of Amir Wright (second team), rhp Ty Johnson (second team).
Missouri Valley: EVANSVILLE — rhp Nick Smith (pitcher of the year, first team), hc Wes Carroll (coach of the year), 3b Brent Widder (first team), of Mark Shallenberger (first team), rhp Shane Gray (first team), 1b Tanner Craig (second team), ss Simon Scherry (second team), rhp Drew Dominik (second team), 2b Evan Berkey (honorable mention), of Eric Roberts (honorable mention). INDIANA STATE — ss Jordan Schaffer (first team), rhp Matt Jachec (first team, defensive), 2b Josue Urdaneta (second team), of Seth Gergely (second team, defensive), of Sean Ross (honorable mention), c Grant Magill (defensive). VALPARAISO — 2b Nolan Tucker (first team), rhp Colin Fields (second team), rhp Bobby Nowak (honorable mention), 3b Kaleb Hannahs (defensive).

NCAA D-II
Great Lakes Intercollegiate: PURDUE NORTHWEST — 2b Ethan Imlach (first team), of Ray Hilbrich (first team), c Jack Gallagher (second team), rhp Tyler Schultz (honorable mention), rhp Sam Shively (honorable mention).
Great Lakes Valley: INDIANAPOLIS — lhp Xavier Rivas (pitcher of the year, first team), ss Alex Vela (second team, sportsmanship), of Brandon DeWitt (second team). SOUTHERN INDIANA —lhp Sammy Barnett (sportsmanship).

NCAA D-III
Heartland Collegiate: FRANKLIN— c Logan Demkovich (first team), of Tysen Lipscomb (first team), rhp Nick McClanahan (pitcher of the year, first team), rhp Alex Reinoehl (first team), ss A.J. Sanders (first team), of Sean Sullivan (first team), 1b Matthew Earley (honorable mention), hc Lance Marshall (coach of the year), rhp Nick Elmendorf (sportsmanship). ROSE-HULMAN — rhp Ian Kline (first team), 1b Josh Mesenbrink (player of the year, first team), 3b Brett Tuttle (first team), 2b Colter Couillard-Rodak (second team), of Harrison Finch (second team), ss Manuel Lopez (second team), ut Adam Taylor (honorable mention), of Nathan Burke (sportsmanship). EARLHAM — dh Andrew Bradley (first team), 3b Devin Basley (second team), 2b Christian Lancianese (second team), of Nathan Lancianese (second team), rhp Aidan Talerek (second team), of Cameron McCabe (honorable mention), c Easton Embry (sportsmanship). ANDERSON— 1b Tyler Smitherman (first team), rhp Evan Doan (second team), lhp Kasey Henderson (second team), rhp Logan Nickel (second team), ss Justin Reed (second team), of Grahm Reedy (second team), of Jake Stank (newcomer of the year, second team), mif T.J. Price (honorable mention), c Tyler Young (sportsmanship). HANOVER — of Andrew Littlefield (first team), c Charlie Burton (second team), 1b Alex Christie (second team), rhp Charlie Joyce (second team), of Eric Roudebush (honorable mention), 3b/1b Jacob Dupps (sportsmanship). MANCHESTER— lhp Carter Hooks (first team), ut Rocco Hanes (second team), dh/ut Harrison Pittsford (second team), rhp/if Zach White (honorable mention, sportsmanship).
Michigan Intercollegiate: TRINE— rhp Josh Hoogewerf (second team), of Brenden Warner (second team).
North Coast: DEPAUW— 1b Kyle Callahan (first team), of Nick Nelson (first team), lhp Michael Vallone (first team), 2b Cameron Macon (second team), ss Evan Barnes (honorable mention), 3b Brian May (honorable mention), of/ut Danny Glimco (honorable mention). WABASH — 2b Austin Simmers (first team).

NAIA
Chicagoland: Calumet of St. Joseph — dh Bubba Davenport (second team), of Gabriel Quinones (second team). INDIANA UNIVERSITY SOUTH BEND— 2b Jake Vanderwoude (first team), c Kole Miller (second team).
Crossroads: TAYLOR — c/of T.J. Bass (player of year, first team), rhp Luke Shively (pitcher of the year, first team), rhp/of Kaleb Kolpein (newcomer of the year, second team), rhp Noah Huseman (first team), if Nick Rusche (first team, gold glove), of Conner Crawford (second team), 1b Kade VanderMolen (gold glove). INDIANA WESLEYAN — if Denver Blinn (first team), c Bryce Ginder (first team), if Lucas Goodin (first team), rhp Hunter Hoffman (first team), ut Evan Salmon (first team, gold glove), c Colby Jenkins (gold glove). HUNTINGTON — 3b Daniel Lichty (first team, gold glove), of/rhp Ian McCutcheon (first team), mif Satchell Wilson (second team). MARIAN — if Matteo Porcellato (first team), 1b Bryce Davenport (second team), of J.J. Rivera (second team, gold glove), Dion Wintjes (gold glove). SAINT FRANCIS — of-dh David Miller (first team), if/of/c Alec Brunson (gold glove). BETHEL— rhp Frank Plesac (first team), c Dominic Densler (second team), if/rhp Jeremy Wiersema (second team), if/rhp Ty Mickiewicz (gold glove). GRACE — rhp Evan Etchison (second team), rhp Hunter Schumacher (second team). GOSHEN — of Jenner Rodammer (second team, gold glove)
River States: INDIANA UNIVERSITY SOUTHEAST — 3b Trevor Campbell (player of the year, first team, gold glove), lhp Hunter Kloke (pitcher of the year, first team), hc Ben Reel (coach of the year), c Brody Tanksley (first team, gold glove), 2b Clay Woeste (first team, gold glove), of Marco Romero (first team, gold glove), rhp Lane Oesterling (second team), of Derek Wagner (second team), ut Brandon Boxer (second team), if Daunte DeCello (gold glove, Champions of Character). INDIANA UNIVERSITY KOKOMO — lhp Owen Callaghan (first team), of Patrick Mills (first team), lhp J.T. Holton (second team), 1b Noah Hurlock (second team), ss Riley Garczynski (second team), of Jack Leverenz (second team), dh Jared Heard (second team), if Matt Iacobucci (Champions of Character). OAKLAND CITY — ss Chandler Dunn (first team), of Noah Baugher (second team), if Austin Morris (Champions of Character).
Wolverine-Hoosier: INDIANA TECH — rhp Hayes Stutsman (first team), c Manuel Ascanio (second team), of Ashtin Moxey (second team), ut Trevor Patterson (gold glove), ss Jayden Reed (gold glove, second team), 2b Mike Snyder (second team), if Michael Oliger (Champions of Character).

Junior College
Michigan Community College: MARIAN’S ANCILLA — if Rylan Huntley (first team), if Josh Ledgard (honorable mention).
Mid-West: Vincennes — ss Peyton Lane (second team), ut Colton Evans (second team).

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through May 29
NCAA D-I
Ball State 40-19 (32-7 MAC)
Notre Dame 35-14 (16-11 ACC)
Evansville 32-24 (14-6 MVC)
Purdue 29-21 (9-12 Big Ten)
Indiana State 26-22-1 (10-10-1 MVC)
Indiana 27-32 (10-14 Big Ten)
Butler 20-35-1 (4-16-1 Big East)
Purdue Fort Wayne 18-36 (13-15 Horizon)
Valparaiso 16-32 (5-15 MVC)

NCAA D-II
Southern Indiana 21-28 (10-14 GLVC)
Indianapolis 21-31 (11-13 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 18-21 (7-17 GLIAC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 29-14 (13-5 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 28-13 (12-6 HCAC)
Earlham 26-13 (12-6 HCAC)
DePauw 22-17 (12-6 NCAC)
Wabash 20-19 (4-14 NCAC)
Anderson 20-21 (11-7 HCAC)
Hanover 16-22 (10-8 HCAC)
Trine 14-23 (9-12 MIAA)
Manchester 10-27 (6-12 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 41-18 (26-10 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 40-15 (20-4 RSC)
Indiana Tech 32-21 (13-7 WHAC)
Indiana Wesleyan 31-23 (23-13 CL)
Oakland City 31-23 (11-11 RSC)
Huntington 27-23 (21-15 CL)
Marian 27-27 (17-19 CL)
Saint Francis 27-28 (15-21 CL)
Indiana University-Kokomo 26-22 (16-7 RSC)
Bethel 25-29 (19-17 CL)
Grace 17-33 (10-26 CL)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 16-32 (11-18 CCAC)
Indiana University South Bend 16-32-1 (9-20-1 CCAC)
Goshen 11-39 (6-30 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 25-32 (15-19 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 16-19
Marian’s Ancilla 8-40 (6-22 MCCAA)

Week of May 23-29
NCAA D-I
Tuesday, May 24
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Pittsburgh 12, Georgia Tech 6
North Carolina State 11, Wake Forest 8
North Carolina 9, Clemson 2

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Missouri State 9, Illinois State 4

Wednesday, May 25
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Pittsburgh 6, Louisville 5
Florida State 13, Virginia 3
North Carolina State 9, Miami 6

Horizon League Tournament
Youngstown State 6, Purdue Fort Wayne 0
Northern Kentucky 3, Illinois-Chicago 2

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Central Michigan 11, Toledo 10

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Indiana State 8, Valparaiso 0
Missouri State 5, Southern Illinois 1
Evansville 9, Indiana State 1

Thursday, May 26
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Georgia Tech 9, Louisville 4
Notre Dame 5, Florida State 3
Virginia Tech 18, Clemson 6

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Penn State 5, Iowa 2
Rutgers 10, Purdue 3
Maryland 6, Indiana 5
Michigan 7, Illinois 5

Horizon League Tournament
Wright State 18, Northern Kentucky 4
Oakland 2, Youngstown State 0

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Ball State 6, Ohio 4

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Dallas Baptist 4, Bradley 3

Friday, May 27
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Notre Dame 3, Virginia 0
Wake Forest 16, Miami 3
North Carolina 10, Virginia Tech 0

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Iowa 5, Purdue 4
Rutgers 5, Penn State 4
Indiana 8, Illinois 1
Michigan 15, Maryland 8

Horizon League Tournament
Youngstown State 11, Northern Kentucky 7
Wright State 14, Oakland 3
Oakland 4, Youngstown State 2

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Toledo 13, Ohio 5
Ball State 9, Central Michigan 7

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Southern Illinois 8, Indiana State 2
Missouri State 19, Bradley 3
Evansville 21, Dallas Baptist 2

Saturday, May 28
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
North Carolina 7, Notre Dame 2
North Carolina State 8, Pittsburgh 3

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Iowa 11, Penn State 3
Indiana 6, Maryland 4 (11 inn.)
Iowa 7, Michigan 3
Rutgers 14, Indiana 2

Horizon League
Championship
Wright State 24, Oakland 0

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Central Michigan 10, Toledo 7
Central Michigan 12, Ball State 3

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Southern Illinois 7, Dallas Baptist 5
Missouri State 7, Evansville 6
Southern Illinois 8, Evansville 5

Sunday, May 29
Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament
Championship
North Carolina 9, North Carolina State 5

Big Ten Conference Tournament
Michigan 13, Iowa 1
Championship
Michigan 10, Rutgers 4

Mid-American Conference Tournament
Championship
Central Michigan 11, Ball State 7

Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
Southern Illinois 9, Missouri State 6
Championship
Missouri State 13, Southern Illinois 3

Spiceland, Sycamores form special bond

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Dan Spiceland started out as the man that got Indiana State University’s baseball team to and from its games.

But he soon became much more and in a decade of transporting the Sycamores the man they call “Dan-O” has made many meaningful relationships while having a lot of fun.

“He’s the grandpa of this team,” says Indiana State head coach Mitch Hannahs of Spiceland. “He’s just a great person with a great outlook on life. That’s why it’s great to have him around.

“He picks these guys up on the bad days and it’s really nice to see. Every team should have a grandfather in the dugout. He talks to these guys about life and a lot of things around this game. He’s invaluable to our club.”

At 52, Spiceland retired after 35 years from Ford Motor Company, where he was in plan engineering and a millwright by trade. He went to Ford a week after graduating from Taylor (Mich.) High School and received further education at Henry Ford Community College (where he also played baseball) and Northwood University with the help of his employer.

“Ford was very good to me and my family,” says Spiceland. “I really never thought I would work again.”

Spiceland and wife, Liz, live near Poland, Ind., and worship at the North Meridian Street Church of Christ in Brazil, Ind. The couple moved from Indianapolis and became a regular with the congregation in 2003.

Dan is one of the elders at North Meridian and was told by one of the members and Terre Haute-based Turner Motor Coaches driver, Robert Hostetler, that the company was in need of drivers.

“Robert was always putting a bug in my ear,” says Spiceland of Hostetler. “I told him out of friendship with you I’ll go down and take a look at it.”

Spiceland had never driven a bus in his life, but showed an aptitude for its right away and was hired.

He began by taking some tour groups on shorter trips.

In 2010, the ISU baseball team was getting ready to go on its first excursion of the season from Terre Haute to Shreveport, La.

The law allows motor coach drivers to be behind the wheel for 10 hours a day and then shut down for eight. This sometimes necessitates a relay system with one driver taking over for the other at a given point along the route.

Two days before the trip, the driver that was going to take the team from Sikeston, Mo., to Shreveport for four days asked to trade places with Spiceland, who was going to drive the first leg from Terre Haute and hand off the team in Missouri.

“I drove them down to Shreveport and we had a great series,” says Spiceland. “We won all the games there against Texas Southern.”

On the way back to the relay point, then-Sycamores head coach Rick Heller made it known how much he appreciated Spiceland. The coach told the driver he wanted him to be the team’s full-time transporter, always taking them on the long end of trips if a relay was involved.

Heller contacted Turner and Spiceland took on the ISU baseball team as part of his driving duties, which now also includes the Indiana State women’s soccer team in the fall and tours of all kinds.

“I’m a people person,” says Spiceland. “I like to meet people. I like to reach out to them any way that I can.

“I’ve made a lot of friends driving this motor coach. I can’t say enough about how much fun it is.”

Getting to drive for and developing a bond with the baseball team came as a a twist of fate when the other driver wanted to swap.

Spiceland drove for Heller for four years. When Heller left to become head coach at the University of Iowa, Hannahs took over the reins of the Sycamores.

“Mitch and myself, we have a great relationship,” says Spiceland. “About four years ago, Mitch took me aside and said, ‘I want to talk to you. You have such a great rapport with the team. You would be much more valuable to me to be in the dugout than to be up in the stands cheering.’”

Donning a uniform and cap, Spiceland spends games in the ISU dugout.

“That makes me feel like a kid again,” says Spiceland. “I’m in the dugout and like a spark plug.”

If a player has a bad at-bat or shaky inning on the mound, Spiceland will approach them and offer words of encouragement.

“I go over to him and it’s authentic — it’s not fake — but I’ll stroke their ego,” says Spiceland. “I try to build up their self-esteem.

“I think of them as my sons.”

Dan and Liz have two biological sons — Dan (43) in Huntsville, Ala., and Frank (40) in Findlay, Ohio, and six grandchildren.

“I’ve been through this before when my sons were this age,” says Spiceland. “There’s peer pressure. These guys have challenges in their lives.

“It’s a relationship that pulls at my heart strings. In four years, I was able to have a small smidgeon in their lives.

“More than a driver, I try to mentor these guys.”

With the baseball team alone, Spiceland averages about 7,000 miles a year.

Dan-O and the team spend a great deal of time together between the bus, baseball stadiums, hotels and restaurants. Many times, players invite him to breakfast to discuss some matters.

“I always accommodate them,” says Spiceland. “We talk about a lot of things. They can bounce things off of me. They know it’s not going to go any farther.

“We really love each other. We can communicate with each other. We just bond with each other.”

When the schedule allows, Spiceland finds a church on the road and players have been known to come along.

“it’s an opportunity for me to share my faith with people,” says Spiceland. “That’s an important thing.”

Earlier this season, Spiceland took the team to the University of Michigan, an experienced he thoroughly enjoyed with his Wolverine State roots.

Indiana State (34-11) is coming off a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series against Illinois State in Normal, Ill. Dan-O and Liz celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary Saturday, May 4, and the Sycamores won Saturday and Sunday to takes 2-of-3 from the Redbirds.

The next trip is this Friday through Sunday at Dallas Baptist. Since it will be Finals Week, players can’t leave campus until Thursday. The plan calls for the team to fly down that night with Spiceland leaving Wednesday and meeting the team in Texas.

After a home series May 16-18, Indiana State goes back to Normal for the MVC Tournament, which is slated for May 21-25.

NCAA Regionals are May 31-June 3 at campus sites with Super Regionals June 7-10 at campus sites and the College World Series June 15-29 in Omaha, Neb.

Whenever the last trip of the season comes for Spiceland and the Sycamores, he will stand at the front of the bus and tell them the same thing he tells each team.

“Guys, this is the last ride,” says Spiceland. “We will never ever be together again as this group of men.”

As the senior disembark in Terre Haute, the seniors have real tears in their eyes and they give Spiceland a hug.

“They say, Dan-O, we may never see you again,” says Spiceland. “But you’ve been like a dad or like a grandpa to us and we’ll never forget that.”

MITCHHANNAHS2

Indiana State University baseball head coach says of team bus driver and mentor, Dan Spiceland: “Every team should have a grandfather in the dugout.” (Indiana State University Photo)

DANSPICELAND

Dan Spiceland aka “Dan-O” has been a bus driver and mentor for the Indiana State University baseball team since 2010. He is employed by Terre Haute-based Turner Motor Coaches. (Steve Krah Photo)