Tag Archives: Purple Aces

Ball State to host MAC tournament; Notre Dame at ACC; Evansville, Indiana State, Valparaiso at MVC; Purdue, Indiana at Big Ten; Purdue Fort Wayne at Horizon

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

With a four-game sweep at Miami (Ohio) during the week of May 16-22, Ball State earned the right to host the four-team Mid-American Conference baseball tournament May 25-28 in Muncie.
The Cardinals are one of eight teams from Indiana going into NCAA Division I conference tournaments this week.
Ball State (38-17), the MAC regular-season champions for the first time since 2014, is the top seed, followed by Central Michigan No. 2, Toledo No. 3 and Ohio No. 4.
BSU is 7-3 in its last 10 games. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals are 18-4 at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex.
Twelve teams will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament May 24-29 in Charlotte, N.C. Pool play is May 24-27. No. 4 seed Notre Dame (33-13) is in Pool D with No. 5 seed Virginia and No. 9 seed Florida State.
Link Jarrett is the Notre Dame head coach. The Irish are 7-3 in their last 10.
The eight-team Big Ten Conference tournament is slated for May 25-29 in Omaha, Neb.
Maryland is the No. 1 seed, Rutgers No. 2, Iowa No. 3, Illinois No. 4, Michigan No. 5, Penn State No. 6, Greg Goff-coached Purdue (29-19) No. 7 and Jeff Mercer-coached Indiana (25-30) No. 8.
The Boilermakers are 4-6 in their last 10, the Hoosiers 5-5.
The eight-team Missouri Valley Conference tournament is scheduled for May 24-28 in Springfield, Mo. Southern Illinois is the No. 1 seed, followed by Wes Carroll-coached Evansville (30-22) No. 2, Dallas Baptist No. 3, Bradley No. 4, Mitch Hannah-coached Indiana State (25-20-1) No. 5, Missouri State No. 6, Illinois State No. 7 and Brian Schmack-coached Valparaiso (16-31) No. 8.
The Purple Aces are 6-4 in their last 10, the Sycamores 3-6-1 and Beacons 3-7.
The six-team Horizon League tournament May 25-28 in Dayton, Ohio. Wright State is the No. 1 seed. Oakland is No. 2, Illinois-Chicago No. 3, Doug Schreiber-coached Purdue Fort Wayne (18-35) No. 4, Youngstown State No. 5 and Northern Kentucky No. 6.
The Mastodons are 5-5 in their last 10.
Notre Dame is No. 17 in the D1Baseball.com RPI. Ball State is No. 70, Evansville No. 86, Indiana State No. 99, Indiana No. 115, Purdue No. 124, Valparaiso No. 210, Butler No. 238 and Purdue Fort Wayne No. 258.
Automatic bids go to the winners of the MAC, ACC, Big Ten, MVC and Horizon tournaments and more. There are 31 automatic bids and 33 at-large picks that will be made by NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. The tournament bracket for the 64-team event will be revealed at noon Eastern Time May 30 on ESPN2.
Butler (20-35-1) did not qualify for the four-team Big East Conference tournament, which is May 26-29 in Mason, Ohio.
Bulldogs head coach Dave Schrage concluded his 38-year career with a 6-4 victory Saturday against Seton Hall. He recently announced his retirement.
Taylor (41-18) and Indiana University Southeast (40-15) both went 1-2 and bowed out at separate NAIA Opening Round sites — the Kyle Gould-coached Trojans in the Upland Bracket and the Ben Reel-coached Grenadiers in the Santa Barbara Bracket.
Earlham (26-13) lost twice at NCAA Division III regional at Lynchburg, Va. The Steve Sakosits-coached Quakers qualified by winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Vincennes (25-32) saw its season end with two losses in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Mid-West Athletic Conference tournament in Normal, Ill. Chris Barney is the VU Trailblazers coach.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through May 22
NCAA D-I
Ball State 38-17 (32-7 MAC)
Notre Dame 33-13 (16-11 ACC)
Evansville 30-22 (14-6 MVC)
Purdue 29-19 (9-12 Big Ten)
Indiana State 25-20-1 (10-10-1 MVC)
Indiana 25-30 (10-14 Big Ten)
Butler 20-35-1 (4-16-1 Big East)
Purdue Fort Wayne 18-35 (13-15 Horizon)
Valparaiso 16-31 (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 16-22
NCAA D-I
Tuesday, May 17
Purdue Fort Wayne 4, Butler 2
Murray State 3, Evansville 2
Indiana 12, Illinois State 7
Notre Dame 14, Northwestern 4

Thursday, May 19
Ball State 7, Miami (Ohio) 4
Evansville 9, Valparaiso 2
Iowa 30, Indiana 16
Indiana State 10, Dallas Baptist 6
Miami (Fla.) 6, Notre Dame 1
Maryland 14, Purdue 7

Friday, May 20
Ball State 4, Miami (Ohio) 2
Ball State 11, Miami (Ohio) 1
Seton Hall 3, Butler 1
Valparaiso 8, Evansville 4
Iowa 12, Indiana 0
Indiana State 11, Dallas Baptist 10
Notre Dame 5, Miami (Fla.) 0
Maryland 18, Purdue 7
Purdue Fort Wayne 6, Akron 5
Akron 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 6

Saturday, May 21
Ball State 13, Miami (Ohio) 2
Butler 6, Seton Hall 4
Iowa 2, Indiana 1
Dallas Baptist 2, Indiana State 2
Miami (Fla.) 16, Notre Dame 7
Akron 11, Purdue Fort Wayne 0

NCAA D-III
Friday, May 20
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 8, Earlham 2
Lynchburg (Va.) 7, Salve Regina (R.I.) 3

Saturday, May 21
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Salve Regina (R.I.) 7, Earlham 6
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 11, Lynchburg (Va.) 2

Sunday, May 22
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Salve Regina (R.I.) vs. Lynchburg (Va.)
Championship
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 10, Salve Regina (R.I.) 2

NAIA
Monday, May 16
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Bryan (Tenn.) 15, Columbia (Mo.) 9
Northwestern Ohio 12, Taylor 8
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Bryan (Tenn.) 5

Santa Barbara Bracket
IU Southeast 22, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 4
Westmont (Calif.) 6, Antelope Valley (Calif.) 0

Tuesday, May 17
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Taylor 3, Columbia (Mo.) 2
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Northwestern Ohio 6
Bryan (Tenn.) 6, Taylor 1

Santa Barbara Bracket
Antelope Valley (Calif.) 4, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 1
Westmont (Calif.) 9, IU Southeast 3

Wednesday, May 18
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Bryan (Tenn.) 7, Northwestern Ohio 4
Championship
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Bryan (Tenn.) 5

Santa Barbara Bracket
Antelope Valley (Calif.) 3, IU Southeast 2
Championship
Westmont (Calif.) 12, Antelope Valley (Calif.) 0

Junior College
Wednesday, May 18
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Danville Area 6, Vincennes 3
Parkland 2, Lewis & Clark 1
Lincoln Land 10, Illinois Central 0
Illinois Central 5, Lewis & Clark 3

Thursday, May 19
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Heartland 7, Danville Area 0
Lincoln Land 5, Parkland 0
Illinois Central 7, Danville Area 6
Parkland 6, Vincennes 5

Friday, May 20
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Heartland 8, Lincoln Land 4
Illinois Central 12, Parkland 3
Lincoln Land 11, Illinois Central 1

Saturday, May 21
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship
Heartland 4, Lincoln Land 2

Demkovich powers Franklin during fruitful week

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

Franklin — with a 17-5 overall record — has gotten off to the best start of 2022 among the state’s NCAA Division III schools.
The Lance Marshall-coached Grizzlies enjoyed a 4-1 week (March 28-April 3). One of the highlights was senior Logan Demkovich’s four home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Bluffton. Munster High School graduate Demkovich is now hitting .410 with 12 home runs and 36 runs batted in.
Earlham (13-5) won its first two HCAC games. Quakers head coach Steve Sakosits reached the 200-win plateau earlier this season.
D-III Trine enjoyed a 3-1 week, including a three-game Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association sweep of Olivet. The first two games were the Thunder’s first home contests of the season.

With a win Sunday against Aquinas, Indiana Tech gave Warriors coach Kip McWilliams his 500th career victory.
NCAA Division I Ball State saw its 10-game win streak end with a loss Sunday at Toledo. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals (17-9) fashioned a 6-1 week and moved to 12-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
Griffith graduate Amir Wright (.344) leads the BSU attack for the lead-off spot. Hamilton Heights graduate Tyler Schweitzer (4-2), Lawrence North alum Ty Johnson (4-1) and Bloomington North grad Sam Klein (six saves) are among the leading pitchers.
A 4-0 week for Notre Dame included a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference sweep at Florida State. The Irish won 2-0 in 12 innings, 5-4 (with one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth) and 9-7 (with two eighth-inning runs). ND head coach Link Jarrett played at FSU.
A 4-0 week for Evansville (13-14) included a three-game non-conference sweep of Michigan State. Wes Carroll’s Purple Aces are 7-4 on their home turf.
Butler (14-14) went 4-1 on the week. Dave Schrage’s Bulldogs have won five of their last six heading into a Tuesday game at Notre Dame. Schrage reached 850 career wins earlier this spring.
NCAA Division II Indianapolis won three of four Great Lakes Valley Conference games at Truman as part of a 3-3 week. Al Ready’s Greyhounds are 5-5 in away contests.
Inclement weather meant no games for Dave Griffin’s Purdue Northwest squad. The Pride is 10-7.
Following a 5-1 week NAIA Taylor (24-10) is tied atop the Crossroads League standings with Mount Vernon Nazarene at 14-4. Kyle Gould’s Trojans were to play two at Saint Francis today (April 4).
Also in the Crossroads League, Rich Benjamin’s Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (17-14) went 5-1 and Seth Zartman’s Bethel Pilots (13-21) went 4-2.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through April 3
NCAA D-I
Purdue 18-5 (1-3 Big Ten)
Ball State 17-9 (12-2 MAC)
Notre Dame 16-5 (5-4 ACC)
Indiana State 15-8 (2-1 MVC)
Butler 14-14 (0-0 Big East)
Evansville 13-14 (0-0 MVC)
Valparaiso 11-11 (0-0 MVC)
Indiana 11-15 (1-2 Big Ten)
Purdue Fort Wayne 4-22 (2-7 Horizon)

NCAA D-II
Southern Indiana 13-13 (2-2 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 10-7 (0-4 GLIAC)
Indianapolis 10-14 (5-3 GLVC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 17-5 (2-0 HCAC)
Earlham 13-5 (2-0 HCAC)
Wabash 12-5 (0-2 NCAC)
Anderson 10-9 (2-0 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 9-6 (0-2 HCAC)
Trine 8-10 (3-0 MIAA)
DePauw 8-10 (1-1 NCAC)
Hanover 7-12 (2-2 HCAC)
Manchester 5-10 (2-0 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 24-10 (14-4 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 22-10 (10-2 RSC)
Indiana University-Kokomo 20-11 (10-1 RSC)
Saint Francis 19-14 (8-8 CL)
Oakland City 19-15 (5-9 RSC)
Indiana Wesleyan 17-14 (12-6 CL)
Huntington 14-12 (12-6 CL)
Indiana Tech 14-15 (4-4 WHAC)
Marian 14-16 (6-10 CL)
Bethel 13-21 (7-11 CL)
Grace 12-19 (6-12 CL)
Indiana University South Bend 9-20 (3-10 CCAC)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 7-21 (2-9 CCAC)
Goshen 5-23 (2-16 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 13-15 (6-6 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 9-6
Marian’s Ancilla 4-22 (2-4 MCCAA)

Week of March 28-April 3
NCAA D-I
Monday, March 28
Ball State 2, Western Michigan 0
Ball State 12, Western Michigan 5

Tuesday, March 29
Butler 7, Bellarmine 4
Evansville 10, Austin Peay 5
Notre Dame 11, Northern Illinois 2
Illinois-Chicago 10, Purdue 9
Purdue Fort Wayne 11, Valparaiso 3

Friday, April 1
Ball State 8, Toledo 1
Butler 1, Eastern Illinois 0
Evansville 7, Michigan State 2
Indiana 5, Northwestern 4
Indiana State 4, Illinois State 2
Notre Dame 2, Florida State 0 (12 inn.)
Illinois 8, Purdue 1
Wright State 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Illinois-Chicago 9, Valparaiso 7
Valparaiso 8, Illinois-Chicago 3

Saturday, April 2
Ball State 7, Toledo 3
Ball State 10, Toledo 2
Eastern Illinois 3, Butler 2
Evansville 7, Michigan State 5
Northwestern 7, Indiana 6
Illinois State 12, Indiana State 2
Notre Dame 5, Florida State 4
Illinois 11, Purdue 10
Wright State 17, Purdue Fort Wayne 11

Sunday, April 3
Toledo 5, Ball State 1
Butler 2, Eastern Illinois 0
Butler 2, Eastern Illinois 1
Evansville 5, Michigan State 4
Northwestern 13, Indiana 6
Indiana State 5, Illinois State 2
Notre Dame 9, Florida State 7
Illinois 11, Purdue 8
Wright State 12, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Valparaiso 5, Illinois-Chicago 2

NCAA D-II
Tuesday, March 29
Kentucky Wesleyan 8, Indianapolis 2
Kentucky Wesleyan 4, Indianapolis 1
Maryville 15, Southern Indiana 8

Friday, April 1
Truman 3, Indianapolis 2
Quincy 7, Southern Indiana 2

Saturday, April 2
Truman 3, Indianapolis 2
Indianapolis 4, Truman 2
Southern Indiana 5, Quincy 1
Quincy 5, Southern Indiana 3

Sunday, April 3
Indianapolis 9, Truman 3
Quincy 6, Southern Indiana 4

NCAA D-III
Monday, March 28
Franklin 9, St. Olaf 8

Tuesday, March 29
Carson-Newman 13, DePauw 3
Wittenberg 10, Earlham 5
St. Olaf 4, Franklin 3
Hanover 15, Mount St. Joseph 14 (13 inn.)
Hanover 9, Mount St. Joseph 5
Rose-Hulman 7, Wabash 1
Ohio Northern 12, Trine 11

Wednesday, March 30
Anderson 15, Greenville 5
DePauw 10, Earlham 3
Franklin 7, Williams 6
Heidelberg 8, Manchester 2

Saturday, April 2
DePauw 12, Wooster 4
Wooster 13, DePauw 6
Earlham 7, Mount St. Joseph 4
Earlham 12, Mount St. Joseph 8
Franklin 16, Bluffton 4
Franklin 13, Bluffton 3
Manchester 6, Hanover 2
Manchester 6, Hanover 2
Trine 3, Olivet 0
Trine 13, Olivet 3
Allegheny 8, Wabash 3
Allegheny 11, Wabash 0

Sunday, April 3
Anderson 4, Rose-Hulman 3
Anderson 6, Rose-Hulman 5
Trine 4, Olivet 2

NAIA
Tuesday, March 29
Bethel 6, Marian 4
Marian 8, Bethel 0
St. Francis (Ill.) 7, Calumet of St. Joseph 1
IU Southeast 16, Campbellsville 7
Indiana Wesleyan 9, Grace 7
Grace 5, Indiana Wesleyan 3
Spring Arbor 16, Huntington 14
Huntington 15, Spring Arbor 2
Concordia 6, Indiana Tech 5
Indiana Tech 5, Concordia 3
Taylor 13, Saint Francis 1
Taylor 11, Saint Francis 0
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Goshen 3
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 3, Goshen 1

Wednesday, March 30
Lawrence Tech 5, IU Kokomo 4
Lawrence Tech 10, IU Kokomo 4
St. Francis (Ill.) 12, IU South Bend 4
Indiana Wesleyan 18, Thomas More 4

Friday, April 1
Grace 9, Bethel 4
Bethel 13, Grace 3
Taylor 12, Goshen 1
Goshen 3, Taylor 2
IU Kokomo 15, Midway 5
Midway 5, IU Kokomo 4
Olivet Nazarene 10, IU South Bend 0
Olivet Nazarene 11, IU South Bend 3
IU Southeast 8, Oakland City 7
IU Southeast 16, Oakland City 4
Indiana Wesleyan 12, Saint Francis 1
Indiana Wesleyan 11, Saint Francis 5

Saturday, April 2
Bethel 4, Grace 2
Bethel 3, Grace 0
Taylor 13, Goshen 1
Taylor 10, Goshen 3
Huntington 10, Marian 6
Huntington 14, Marian 12 (8 inn.)
IU Kokomo 7, Midway 6 (10 inn.)
Olivet Nazarene 9, IU South Bend 5
Oakland City 10, IU Southeast 9 (11 inn.)
Cornerstone 5, Indiana Tech 4
Cornerstone 9, Indiana Tech 3
Indiana Wesleyan 11, Saint Francis 1
Indiana Wesleyan 13, Saint Francis 6

Sunday, April 3
Aquinas 5, Indiana Tech 2
Indiana Tech 7, Aquinas 5

Junior College
Tuesday, March 29
Marian’s Ancilla 2, Glen Oaks 1
Glen Oaks 5, Marian’s Ancilla 3

Friday, April 1
Muskegon 4, Marian’s Ancilla 0
Muskegon 11, Marian’s Ancilla 2
Vincennes vs. Danville Area 8, Vincennes 3
Vincennes vs. Danville Area 6, Vincennes 1

Saturday, April 2
Olney Central 3, Ivy Tech Northeast 0

Sunday, April 3
Marian’s Ancilla vs. Muskegon
Danville Area 7, Vincennes 5
Vincennes 7, Danville Area 6

Brownlee makes diamond impact at Evansville, Illinois State, more

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

Jim Brownlee built a long, successful baseball coaching career on the principles of fundamentals and discipline.
Now 76, retired and living with wife of 51 years — Candy — in Gulf Breeze in the Florida Panhandle (the couple moved there in April 2021), Brownlee can look back on a run that includes 23 seasons as head coach at the University of Evansville (1980-2002), seven seasons at Illinois State University (2003-09) and one season as University of Iowa pitching coach (2013). He was also a longtime basketball official.
“I learned the game of baseball from my college baseball coach Duffy Bass,” says Brownlee of the former Illinois State University head coach and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer. “He was about as good at fundamentals of anybody I’ve been around — whether it was catching, hitting, bunting or pitching. I kind of patterned myself after him.”
A 1963 graduate of Antioch (Ill.) Community High School, Brownlee played for Bass at Illinois State from 1967-70 and was a teammate of future major league pitcher Buzz Capra. The 1969 Collegiate Division National champions went 33-5 and ran the table in the postseason.
“I learned the running game at a very young age,” says Brownlee. “We were very aggressive at Evansville. One year we had 202 stolen bases.
“I had lesser talent at Evansville. We didn’t have the full amount of scholarships. We had guys we thought would get better and they did. We had guys never drafted out of high school that were drafted out of college.
“I think college baseball has always been that way. (Development’s) at an all-time high. But we’re still behind the 8-ball with scholarships and dates. It used to be we had 120 games between fall and spring (at the NCAA D-I level and now it’s 56 games in the spring with 11.7 scholarships for a roster of 35).
“College baseball keeps growing. It’s become a money-maker.”
That money is bound to go even higher if the season was moved into the warmer months.
Says Brownlee, “40 years ago I proposed we play in the summer.”
Brownlee was “hard-nosed” as a coach.
“Discipline is important to me as a retired Marine,” says Brownlee.
After his playing days ended and having served a stint with the U.S. Marines, Brownlee became an assistant baseball coach at Illinois State (1975-76) and was as head coach for the Galesburg Pioneers in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (which later merged with the Prospect League), where he encountered Bloomington Bobcats pitcher Tim Stoddard. The 6-foot-7 right-hander from East Chicago, Ind., was on his way to an MLB career and is now an assistant coach at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.
Before UE, Brownlee coached at Princeton (Ill.) High School (1976-79).
As Evansville coach, Brownlee won 701 games with four 40-win seasons and seven conference coach of the year honors.
Among his players were future big leaguers Sal Fasano, Andy Benes and Jamey Carroll and Purple Aces head coach Wes Carroll. Benes and the Carroll brothers are Pocket City natives.
The Purple Aces have retired Brownlee’s No. 6 and Benes’ No. 30.
Brownlee has been inducted into the Illinois State University Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the Redbirds’ ’69 national champions, the University of Evansville Athletics Hall of Fame, the Lake County (Ill.) High Schools Sports Hall of Fame, the Bloomington-Normal Officials Association Wayne Meece Hall of Fame and is slated to go into the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame in Evansville in May.
A founding member of the Tri-State Hot Stove Baseball League, that group will honor Brownlee with its Legends Award Jan. 15.
Tri-State Hot Stove Baseball League supports amateur athletics around the Evansville area. It started as an effort to save Bosse Field, which was established in 1915 and for years was the home to high school baseball and football, American Legion baseball and the Triple-A Evansville Triplets before affiliated pro ball left town.
The stadium, which now houses the independent pro Evansville Otters and was host to the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series in 2021, looked to be condemned and torn down back in the ‘80s.
That’s when Brownlee — who had his UE teams playing home games there at the time — got together with former minor league relief pitcher and manager “Singin’ Ed” Nottle and Evansville Central High School coach Paul Gries and brought in folks like Indiana, College and Pro Football Hall of Famer and Rex Mundi High School graduate Bob Griese, former MLB all-star and Evansville Memorial alum Don Mattingly and former big league pitcher and Evansville Central High grad Benes to help raise funds.
Since then, not only has Bosse Field been saved but local high school and college fields have been upgraded.
“It’s about facilities and making it better and showing it’s an important sport,” says Brownlee.
UE now plays on turf at German American Bank at Charles H. Braun Stadium.
“It was a labor of love for all of us,” says Brownlee. “I’m really proud of what we’ve built with the baseball community there.”
Brownlee had both his sons — Tim and Ryan — as UE players and then coached with both of them.
Tim Brownlee was also on the Illinois State staff and employed his father for a decade with his Normal, Ill.-based baseball tournament company — Diamond Sports Promotions. Between Evansville and ISU, Tim assisted his father for 17 seasons.
Ryan Brownlee was an assistant at Evansville (1998-99), James Madison University (2000-03) and Iowa (2004-12) and head coach at Western Illinois University (2013-19) and is now Assistant Executive Director and weekly podcast host for the Greensboro, N.C.- based ABCA. The ABCA Convention is Jan. 6-9 in Chicago. He plans to appear at the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic Jan. 14-16 in Indianapolis. Jamey Carroll is to go into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame Jan. 15.

Jim Brownlee (University of Evansville Photo)

Craig provides punch for Evansville Purple Aces

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

Tanner Craig has provided a productive bat for the University of Evansville baseball team since the 2018 season.
The righty swinger sports a batting average of .294 (128-of-435) with 18 home runs, 28 doubles, 76 runs batted in, 60 runs scored and an .859 OPS (.372 on-base percentage plus 487 slugging average) in 116 games.
In 2021, the 6-foot, 220-pound first baseman played in 54 contests (all starts) and hit .299 (60-of-201) with 12 homers, 14 doubles, 47 RBIs, 31 runs and a .929 OPS (.382/.547).
Thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility when the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2020 season — one in which he was named Collegiate Baseball’s National Player of the Week and Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week after slugging four homers in a season-openojvng series at Tennessee Tech — Craig is back for a fifth season with the Purple Aces in 2022.
What title best fits Craig as an offensive player?
“I would say I’m a power hitter,” says Craig, 22. “It’s role I’ve played at Evansville and other teams I’ve been on.”
Aces head coach Wes Carroll tabbed Craig as his regular No. 3 hole hitter in 2021.
“I just try to hit the ball hard every time,” says Craig. “I look for a pitch in the part of the (strike) zone I know I can hit it well and swing hard.”
While Craig has seen some exit velocity data, it’s not how he and other UE players often gauge their swings.
“With turf we can get on the field anytime we want,” says Craig of German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium. “Ball flight — that tells you a lot about your swing.
“We played one game on (home) turf in the COVID year (then 34 in 2021). We’re very lucky to have it. That’s for sure.”
Craig appreciates Carroll for the way he tailors his approach to each player.
“He really cares for all of us as individuals,” says Craig. “He takes the time to learn how to coach us individually. He knows the best way to get to people.”
Carroll can be firmer with Craig because he knows he can hand it. Another player may need to be cajoled.”
Fall practice began Aug. 30, about a week after the first day of class. Individual work is about to wrap up. That will be followed by team practices and scrimmages. While there has been nothing formal, players have been keeping track of which color teams wins most.
The Aces are also slated to play exhibition games Oct, 9 against Western Kentucky University and Oct. 23 against Wabash Valley College — both at Evansville.
Last spring, Craig earned an Accounting degree and is now working toward a Masters of Leadership. He expects to finish the 18-month course in December 2022.
This summer, Craig played for the Prospect League’s Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators. In 26 games, he hit .386 (34-of-88) with 10 homers, seven doubles, 36 RBIs and 19 runs for a team managed by Michael Keeran. The team went a league-best 41-18 during the regular season and lost to the Cape Catfish in the best-of-three championship series.
“It was a great experience,” says Craig. “It’s a beautiful stadium (the new-look Loeb Stadium).
“It was really fun, my time up there.”
Craig was born in Florence, Ky., and grew up in Scottsburg, Ind., where he played Coach Pitch at what is now Scott County Youth League. He played travel ball for the Smithville (Ind.) Gators, Mark Peters-coached Ironmen (13U to 17U) and Jeremy Johnson-coached Evansville Razorbacks (18U).
He began attending schools in Austin, Ind., in sixth grade and graduate from Austin High School in 2017. Craig was a shortstop, third baseman and pitcher for Eagles coach Matt Bayes.
“He’s just a good coach,” says Craig of Bayes. “He’s really good at teaching a lot of aspects of the game.”
One of Craig’s teammates was right-handed pitcher Drew Buhr (Austin Class of 2019), who went to Saint Louis University then transferred to Bellarmine University.
Tanner, who turns 23 in December, is the youngest of Samtec production supervisor Todd and Morgan Foods senior buyer Jennifer Craig.
“They’ve been a huge support for me since I’ve started,” says Tanner of his parents. “They’ve always found ways to get me whatever I need. I can count on one hand the number of games my dad has missed in my college career.
“It’s always nice to see a familiar face in the stands.”
Morgan Dillard, Tanner’s older sister lives in Indianapolis and is in management with CVS Health. She is married with a daughter.
Quintin Craig, Tanner’s older brother, is a project manager of Crown Castle and lives in Louisville with his wife and daughter.
Peyton Craig, Tanner’s younger brother, is a Scottsburg freshman involved in Future Farmers of America.

Tanner Craig (University of Evansville Photo)
Tanner Craig (University of Evansville Photo)
Tanner Craig (University of Evansville Photo)
Tanner Craig (University of Evansville Photo)

Carroll talks to all-stars about leaving a legacy, being a good teammate

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

Jamey Carroll stopped by his hometown to offer some advice to some of the state’s best young baseball players.
“Go out and make some memories,” said Carroll, who was in Evansville Friday, June 25 at the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series banquet. There are two games at noon CST Saturday, June 26 at the University of Evansville and one at 11 a.m. CST Sunday, June 27 at Bosse Field.
Carroll talked to these young athletes about making an impression and being a good teammate.
“Who are you in this game?,” says Carroll, who was an IHSBCA South All-Star representing Castle High School in 1992. “That’s ultimately the legacy you’re going leave.
“There’s more than just getting in the box and grinding. There’s being a good teammate and hustling.”
Carroll, who played seven years in the minors and 12 in the big leagues with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals after his days at Castle and the UE is now a roving defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Carroll named three of his favorite teammates: Todd Helton and Matt Holliday on the Rockies and Clayton Kershaw on the Dodgers.
Helton was a superstar hitter and first baseman. But he didn’t take his talent for granted.
“He worked his tail off,” says Carroll. “He showed me what it was like to continue to work hard.”
Carroll, who started 510 games at second base, 202 at shortstop and 185 at third base during his career, was struck how Helton had the infielders going full bore from the beginning of spring training.
Carroll, who spoke at the 2020 American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Nashville on “Guiding Gen-Z to Greatness,” says a good teammate holds others accountable.
Teammates can makes sure their buddies are making the grades, appreciating practice, hustling and avoiding late nights and wasted time on social media.
“Are they doing what they need to do?,” says Carroll. “Are you holding them accountable for that?”
When Carroll’s mother passed away suddenly, Holliday would always ask, “How are you doing?”
The slugger understood the importance of mom and was empathetic.
“That is an awesome teammate,” says Carroll. “If anybody has their mom here, hug them.”
Jamey and Kim Carroll have 13-year-old twins — Cole and Mackenzie.
“Clayton Kershaw in an unbelievable pitcher, right?,” says Carroll. “He’s an even better teammate. He sent me a text asking me when my son’s playing. The last time he saw my son was when he was 2 and now he’s 13.
“He cared about me and my family. I don’t care that he can only throw an 89 mph fastball now. He’s an unbelievable human.”
This summer, Carroll’s twins are learning what it means to be a good roommate.
“In four years, you’re going to be one,” says Carroll. “We’re going to give you a life skill and that means being a good roommate.”
That translates to being a good teammate.
At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Carroll is not imposing physically.
“I’m the little guy that had to scrap and fight and find ways to win,” says Carroll, who got noticed by an Expos scout for his hustle.
Carroll was playing for Evansville — where brother Wes Carroll is now Purple Aces head coach — and hit a groundball to the pitcher and a groundball to the shortstop. The scout later shared that Carroll ran the exact same time to first base.
“I thought I’m gonna remember that, because a guy gave me my opportunity to live my dream by simply running hard,” says Carroll. “And we’ve heard it all the time — control the opportunity.”
As an infield coordinator, count Carroll as one who does not care for the current trend of shifting. He says it takes away the instincts of the fielder when he can look at a card that tells him to play in a certain spot on the field.
“I guess third basemen should be taking grounders at shortstop,” says Carroll of a shift to the right.
Sometimes that third baseman even ends up in short right field.

Jamey Carroll

Crews roams center field, leads off for Evansville Purple Aces

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Like the buffalo that used to roam his family’s farm, Kenton Crews is drawn to the open expanses of the baseball field.

A center fielder since his days at Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, Ind., Crews uses the handle @superbuffaloman on Twitter and rambles in the middle of the outfield as a University of Evansville redshirt junior.

“I love playing center field,” says Crews, a 6-foot-1, 187-pounder. “It’s the most fun thing of everything about baseball.”

Crews, 23, tends to play shallow for the Purple Aces and chases balls over his head.

“I feel more comfortable running back and catching balls over my shoulder,” says Crews, who used to do a similar thing as Heritage Hills football wide receiver. 

When Crews reached UE, his favorite number — 5 — was not available. It was the number worn by his father Michael, who was a center fielder and a football player at Ball State University.

Kenton decided to go with 15 in purple, orange and white because that’s the digit donned by fly-chasing center fielder Jim Edmonds with the St. Louis Cardinals. Kenton grew up rooting for the Redbirds and stars like Edmonds, Jasper, Ind., native Scott Rolen and slugger Albert Pujols.

Speed put Crews in the outfield and made him effective in the lead-off slot with the Aces at-bat.

“One thing that we really focus on is that when the lead-off hitter each inning gets on base your chances of scoring go up,” says Crews. “A lot of (lead-off hitters) will take pitches. But if you can get a hittable pitch you should swing at it — especially fastballs early in the count instead of swing at the pitcher’s pitch.

“I’m usually pretty aggressive when I’m hitting lead-off.”

Going into a Missouri Valley Conference series April 23-25 against Illinois State, Crews is hitting .393 (35-of-89) with three home runs, four triples, eight doubles, 22 runs batted in, 21 runs scored and 6-of-9 in stolen bases. He sports a 1.145 OPS (.471 on-baseball percentage and .674 slugging average) in 28 games (24 starts).

For his career — which includes a redshirt season due to injury in 2019 — Crews is hitting .295 (161-of-545) with 11 homers, eight triples, 32 doubles, 79 RBIs, 81 runs and 33-of-42 in stolen bases. His OPS is .793 (.349 on-baseball percentage and .444 slugging average) in 143 games.

The righty swinger has 10 multi-hit games in 2021. He hit for the cycle (homer, triple, double and single) March 21 against visiting Butler. His 4-for-5 day produced four RBIs and two runs scored.

During his cycle, Crews tripled to left center in the bottom of the first inning, doubled to center in the third, homered to left in the seventh and singled in the eighth.

“Teammates were talking about it at a whisper,” says Crews about the Evansville dugout. “People didn’t know how to act.

“I was nervous about it. I didn’t want to let everybody down.”

The first two cycles of Crews’ baseball life came as a grade schooler with a Dale (Ind.) Buffaloes. 

Born in Evansville, Kenton lived with father Michael, mother Kathleen and sister Sienna in a house in Lincoln State Park.

Kenton grew up catching snakes, frogs and turtles for the nature center where his father was — and still is — an interpretive naturalist. He was a football coach at Heritage Hills Middle School was a long stretch.

When Kenton was 7, the family moved to a 100-acre farm, where the Crews raised big, wooly mammals and ran a restaurant — Buffalo Run Farm, Grill & Gifts — for two decades.

Michael coached Sienna’s T-ball team (she is a year older than her brother). After the Buffaloes, Kenton played travel ball with the Southern Indiana Spikes from 8-13. He was with the HHMS and was on a Pony team in Tell City, Ind.

As a high schooler, Crews was an all-stater and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series MVP as a senior in 2016 and also a all-state and all-conference baseball and football players. 

Greg Gogel was then head baseball coach at Heritage Hills.

“I love Coach Gogel with all my heart,” says Crews of a longtime family friend and former teammate of cousin Cole Seifrig (who took a lateral from future pro quarterback Jay Cutler and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Cutler in overtime to lead Heritage Hills to a 27-24 victory against Zionville in the 2000 IHSAA Class 3A state championship game). “He taught me more lessons in life than anyone other than my dad.”

Gogel’s wife, Jenna, is Kenton’s chiropractor.

Crews played for the Louisville-based Ironmen Baseball Club then — the summer following his senior year at Heritage Hills — the Evansville Razorbacks.

After missing his 16U summer with a hamstring injury, Kenton decided to attend college where his sister Sienna ran cross country and track.

He also liked the sincerity displayed by Aces head coach Wes Carroll and his staff during the recruiting process.

“They came to me instead of me chasing after somebody else,” says Crews. “I appreciated that effort and that honesty.

“Coach Carroll knows what he’s talking about. He told me he can make me into a better baseball player. I hope we can be friends and have a relationship the rest of my life.”

Kenton is the fourth NCAA Division I competitor in the family.

“She’s the real athlete in our family,” says Kenton of his mother.

As Kathleen Beumel, she was a 10-time state champion in cross country and track at Apollo High School in Owensboro, Ky. After attending Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, she transferred to the University of Hawaii at Manoa where she was cheer captain. At 20, she experienced a crippling injury.

“She broke her neck and was paralyzed,” says Kenton. “She wasn’t supposed to walk again or have kids.

“It’s a miracle she was able to move again and she was able to run.”

Kathleen Crews is now a program assistant at Heritage Hills and involved in the community.

Kenton graduated from UE in December 2020 with a degree in Communication, Advertising and Public Relations and is now pursuing a Masters in Leadership. All the courses are online.

“We get to work at our own pace,” says Crews. “We’re now learning empathy and showing people better ways to do things.”

Crews spent the summers of 2017 and 2018 with the Northwoods League’s Mankato (Minn.) MoonDogs and after sitting out the summer of 2019 while recuperating he was with the NL’s Kalamazoo (Mich.) Mac Daddies, where former Mankato teammate and Indiana State player C.J. Huntley was on the coaching staff and Greg Weyrich was the manager.

“He was a super nice guy and knew a lot,” says Crews, who has another year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic that shortened the 2020 spring season. “I’m waiting to see about this summer.

“I’d like to play another season if (Carroll) would have me.”

Kenton Crews (University of Evansville Photo)

Motz wants to keep the ball rolling for Crawfordsville Athenians

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Brett Motz was part of the baseball legacy at Crawfordsville (Ind.) High School as a player and an assistant coach.

And now he’s laying the groundwork for his first season as the Athenians head coach.

Motz, a 1995 Crawfordsville graduate who helped win 105 games during Motz’s four varsity seasons (1992-95) with a Sheridan Regional title in 1995, follows John Froedge as the man in charge. The Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer let Motz know that the 2020 season — which did not happen because of COVID-19 — would be his last after 39 years.

Baseball at Crawfordsville is now led by Motz, long-time pitching coach Rhett Welliever, varsity/junior varsity assistant Kurt Schlicher and JV coach Tony Bean.

“Coach Froedge and Coach Welliever have equal respect from me,” says Motz. “I want to make sure we still emphasize the important pieces that created this program and use up-to-date relevant stuff that kids will buy into.

“It’s different leadership, but we want to keep this train moving along.”

Motz, 44, held an organizational meeting last weekend that brought together all the coaches in the system from Crawfordsville Youth Baseball for ages 5-12 (an organization Motz led for almost a decade) to a Crawfordsville-only travel team to junior high to high school and got feedback about what has led to successful baseball in the Montgomery County community.

“I wanted them to know I appreciate all that they do,” says Motz. “You have to have a large group of people around me to continue this baseball program.

“Make sure the kids that get the most out of their years playing youth, middle school and high school baseball.”

Motz has been working on an outline that can be used at the lower levels.

“I want to make sure the kids are hearing the right words and that we’re emphasizing the right things when kids are swinging the bat or swinging the bat.”

Motz is also Crawfordsville’s strength & conditioning coach — teaching four classes at the high school and two at the middle school while working with athletes in all sports. He lays down a foundation and adds sports-specific elements.

As an Athenians assistant to Froedge 2007-10, Motz was able to implement functional training exercises and monitor nutrition for a baseball team which produced an IHSAA Class 3A state champion in 2008.

“Those are the things I’m passionate about,” says Motz. “Those kids were strong and 100 healthy when that (2008) postseason began.”

Motz says its easier to develop one-on-one relationships in the weight room than the classroom. 

“You see the true character,” says Motz. “When the going gets tough, who’s going to bear down?

“You share all that information with other coaches.”

Motz, a 2001 Crawfordsville Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, finished his prep days with a .457 batting average, 25 home runs and 164 runs batted in. The IHSBCA Record Book shows th righty swinger third in career hits (187) and tied for sixth in career runs scored (163).

He batted in slots 5-7 in the batting order as a freshman. No. 3 as a sophomore and junior and lead-off — to get more at-bats — as a senior. Depending on the situation, he played second base, shortstop or third base and also pitched. He was selected for the 1995 IHSCA North-South All-Star Series.

His 16U and 17U summers, Motz was with the Indiana Bulls travel organization with IHSBCA Hall of Famer Dennis Kas as head coach and Tom Linkmeyer, Kevin Stephenson and Brent Mewhinney as assistants.

Motz went to the University of Evansville, where he spent five years with U of E Athletics Hall of Famer Jim Brownlee in charge of Purple Aces baseball.

“He truly loved his players,” says Motz of Brownlee. “I learned a lot about myself through those five years about being committed to a program and coach that saw something in me.

“I gave it all I had.”

The Aces coaching staff also featured Tim Brownlee — assistant to Jim Brownlee. Jim’s younger son and Tim’s younger brother — Ryan Brownlee — was a teammate to Motz.

Missing most of the 1997 season with as a medical redshirt (he wound up having Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery), Motz was with Evansville 1996-2000 and tallied 160 career runs.

He was the Opening Day third baseman and a relief pitcher in 1996. He spent most of his time at first base in 1998 and was the starting left fielder in 1999 and 2000.

Motz tied for the team lead in home runs with eight in 1999. He was named CoSIDA All-District V and to the Missouri Valley Conference Academic First Team in 2000 and Honorable Mention MVC Academic in 1998. He earned his degree from Evansville in Physical and Health Education.

Summers during and just after college were spent with the Quincy (Ill.) Gems, Springfield (Ill.) Rifles and Crawfordsville Eagles.

Teammates on the Matt Walker-coached Eagles include Matt McCarty (a Crawfordsville graduate who played in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization) and B.J. Schlicher (a North Montgomery High School graduate who played in the Philadelphia Phillies system).

Motz was given a chance to coach by Doug Schreiber as a Purdue University volunteer assistant in 2001 and 2002 while he was working toward his masters degree in Sport Pedagogy. Todd Murphy was also on that coaching staff. Motz also coached for the Indiana Bulls during his summers.

Brett married Jennifer, whom he knew from high school, about this time and decided not to take the nomadic path of a college coach while starting a family. 

Sons Austin and Wyatt played Crawfordsville Youth Baseball. Now a CHS junior, Austin Motz plays tennis and baseball. Eighth grader Wyatt Motz plays tennis, basketball and baseball. Jennifer Motz is currently on hiatus from her teaching job.

Brett Motz became an assistant to Brent Harmon at North Putnam High School in Rochdale, Ind., for the 2004 season then was Cougars head coach in 2005 and 2006. He still maintains contact with many of his former North Putnam players and looks forward to forming bonds at Crawfordsvlle where many of his former CYB players are now high schoolers.

“I like that emotional leadership you get with a team as a head coach,” says Motz.

Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer John Froedge (left) has handed over the head baseball reins of the Crawfordsville (Ind.) High School program to 1995 CHS graduate Brett Motz (right). (Susan Ehrlich Photo)
Brett Motz, a 1995 Crawfordsville (Ind.) High School graduate, is now head baseball coach at his alma mater. (Susan Ehrlich Photo)

Riggs shares prep, college, pro experiences with next generation

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Like many Indiana boys, Eric Riggs’ athletic focus growing up in Brownsburg, Ind., was basketball.

His father, David Riggs, was on the 1962 Evansville Bosse state championship team and earned a letter on the hardwood at the University of Evansville in 1966-67. The Purple Aces were NCAA Division II national champions in 1963-64 and 1964-65.

David’s father Walter Riggs and uncle Clarence Riggs are both in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Both graduated from Evansville Central High School and Evansville College.

Walter Riggs, grandfather of Eric, coached Evansville Central to an IHSAA state runner-up finish to Lafayette Jeff in 1948.

Eric Riggs, who is 6-foot-2 and played on Steve Brunes-coached Brownsburg High School teams that went 20-5 and 24-3 in his junior (1993-94) and senior seasons (1994-95), accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of Central Florida.

Playing Knights head coach Kirk Speraw, Riggs started in 22 of 30 games and averaged 11.4 points and 3.1 assists per game as a freshman in 1995-96. UMass and Marcus Camby knocked UCF out of the 1996 NCAA tournament.

Then Riggs turned his attention back to the diamond.

In his 16U, 17U and 18U summers, Riggs played travel baseball for the Indiana Bulls — the first two years with Jeff Mercer Sr. as head coach and the last with Bret Shambaugh.

The switch-hitting infielder had played baseball at Brownsburg for head coach Wayne Johnson and assistants Craig Moore and Mick Thornton. Big league pitcher Jeff Fassero came in to help the Bulldogs during the off-season.

“(Johnson) was a players’ coach,” says Riggs. “We were pretty stacked in our senior class. We had a lot of guys play at the next level (including Brian Stayte, Mark Voll and Joel Martin).”

Junior Quinn Moore, youngest son of Craig, was the mound ace in 1995 and went on to play at the University of South Alabama.

During a basketball recruiting trip to the school near Orlando in the spring of 1995, Riggs met with UCF baseball coach Jay Bergman near the end of the program’s 29-game win streak.

“He was very positive,” says Riggs of Bergman. “Coach Moore had been in Coach Bergman’s ear to let me walk on.

“(Craig Moore) was very instrumental in my baseball career. I just kind of played it. Basketball was my first sport.”

“I had never played year-round baseball. I wanted to find out what that was like. I ended up getting a partial baseball scholarship.”

Before he knew it, Riggs was batting ninth and starting at second base at the NCAA D-I level.

From 1996-98, Riggs amassed a career average of .362 with 49 doubles and a .573 slugging percentage. As an all-Atlantic Sun Conference first-team shortstop in 1998, he hit .394 with 26 doubles, 154 total bases and 64 runs scored.

Selected in the fourth round of the 1998 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Riggs was one of 10 UCF players picked from a 41-21 team. Two of those — pitcher Mike Maroth (Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals) and outfielder Esix Snead (New York Mets) — reached the majors.

In the winter of 2000-01, Riggs played a few months in Queensland, Australia, before returning to the U.S. and the Dodgers. He was with that organization for eight years (1998-2004, 2006), getting as far as Triple-A in 2003, 2004 and 2006.

In three seasons, his roommate was David Ross (who went on to be a 14-year big league catcher and is now manager of the Chicago Cubs).

“He’s a natural leader,” says Riggs of Ross. “Being a catcher that was his state of mind. He managed the pitching staff well.

“He was just a solid baseball player. Once he got his chance (in the majors), he showed them what he could do as a catcher and hit a little bit.”

Riggs also played Double-A ball for the Houston Astros in 2005 and was briefly with the independent Schaumburg (Ill.) Flyers at the beginning of 2007 before finishing up his pro career that year in Double-A with the Miami Marlins.

In 10 seasons at all levels, Riggs played in 1,050 games (with 500 appearances at shortstop, 235 at second base and 216 at third base) and hit .264 with 78 homers, 217 doubles, 459 RBIs and slugging percentage of .406.

Steve Farley, then the Butler University head coach, brought Riggs on as a part-time volunteer coach in the spring of 2008.

“Steve gave me a chance to see what coaching at that level was like,” says Riggs. “He was a very, very smart baseball man. He was great to learn from and watch work.

“I had a blast.”

Riggs also had the opportunity to pick the baseball brain of Butler assistant Matt Tyner, who had played the University of Miami (Fla.) for Ron Fraser and in the Baltimore Orioles system. After Butler, Tyner was head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., a University of Richmond (Va.) assistant and head coach at Towson (Md.) State University.

With a change in his full-time job in 2009, Riggs changed his focus to coaching his sons. Eric and wife Trisha have four sons. Bryce (16) is a sophomore at Noblesville (Ind.) High School. Twins Blake (13) and Brooks (13) are seventh graders at Noblesville West Middle School. Beckett (8) is a third grader at Noble Crossing Elementary School. 

The three oldest Riggs boys have had their father as a coach with the Indiana Bulls. Eric was an assistant with Bulls teams Bryce played on from age 8 to eighth grade and he is now head coach of the 13U White team as well as a board of directors member. The 12-player roster (pitcher-only players become a thing in the high school years) includes Blake and Brooks. 

The team played in two fall tournaments and plans to ramp up preparation for the 2021 season of 11 tournaments with 50 or more games in January. His assistants include Brandon Inge, J.J. Beard and Kyle Smith. Former MLB third baseman/catcher Inge (Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates) go back to their Cape Cod Baseball League days in college with 1997 Bourne Braves.

Kevin O’Sullivan (who went on to coach the 2017 national championship team at the University of Florida) was the Bourne head coach. The ace of the pitching staff was left-hander Mark Mulder, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 MLB Draft and went on to win 103 games in nine Major League Baseball seasons with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.

When he can, Eric also helps coach the Noblesville Millers travel team that includes Beckett.

“I’m using what I’ve learned from players and coaches I’ve been around,” says Riggs. “I want to pass that to kids to make them better people and baseball players.”

Riggs, 44, is also a sales pro for BSN Sports with college and high school clients. He says uniform trends at the high school level tend to revolve around what catches a coach’s eye on the college scene. If they like the Vanderbilt look, they may wish to replicate in their school colors.

The Riggs family (clockwise from top left): Eric, Bryce, Trisha, Brooks, Beckett and Blake. Eric Riggs, a 1995 Brownsburg (Ind.) High School graduate, played pro baseball for 10 years and now helps coach his boys with the Indiana Bulls and Noblesville Millers travel organizations. 

Gaura stresses competitive environment for Evansville Purple Aces pitchers

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

A.J. Gaura wants his to focus on what his University of Evansville baseball pitchers do best and let the rest take care of itself.

“It’s not about the hitter or the umpire,” says Gaura, heads into his third season in 2020-21. “It’s competing against ourselves.

“We’ve got to be competitive with two to three pitches and try not to over-think it.”

The Aces are beginning their fourth week of team practice after four weeks focused on individuals that missed much of their spring season (Evansville played just 16 games when play was halted in March) and summer to COVID-19. 

“We’re getting them into a competitive environment as much as possible,” says Gaura. “Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday we’re treating like a weekend series.”

That means starters are going four or five innings and relievers two our three. The goal is to have each arm get 18 to 20 innings by the end of fall ball.

After team practice, the plan is to go back to a week or two of individual training before Thanksgiving break.

As a COVID-19 measure, students will turn to online classes and testing and not come back to practice until the beginning of 2021. Baseball players will re-assemble in the middle of January — about a month before the start of the season.

“It’s going to be a big challenge this year,” says Gaura. “We’ll rely on guys to get in work on their own.”

Gaura (pronounced Gore-uh) is also UE’s recruiting coordinator. Because of the virus, there have not been many opportunities to see players perform in-person or have face-to-face meetings.

“It’s definitely a strange time,” says Gaura. “We work the phones to build relationships.”

That’s when coaches can get a sense of a potential recruit’s character.

Evansville’s campus is currently open to visitors who must go through a sign-in process. Academic tours are available.

Gaura is on an Aces coaching staff headed by Wes Carroll.

“Wes is an awesome guy to work for,” says Gaura, 28. “He brings energy every single day.

“He gives his assistants a lot of autonomy. He focuses on the culture of the program and allows us to coach the skill aspects of baseball. It’s a great work environment.”

From 2016-18, Gaura was at Mississippi State University, where he served as graduate assistant video coordinator, coordinator of player development and volunteer assistant/camp coordinator and headed up on-campus recruiting was responsible for the organization of all on-campus recruiting, the scholarship and recruiting database and video needs for both player development and advanced scouting. 

During Gaura’s stay in Starkville, Gary Henderson was an MSU assistant then head coach. Henderson began his college coaching career in the late 1980’s.

Gaura gleaned much from the veteran coach about the intricacies of running a pitching staff and program on a day-to-day basis.

“He took me under his wing and taught me the dynamics of working with the coaches and players,” says Gaura. “With his experience, there’s so much that can be learned from him.”

As a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher, Gaura spent two seasons at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and two at Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn. 

Playing for head coach Marc Rardin, Gaura was 17-1 and helped IWCC to an National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship in 2012.

“It was so much more than baseball for Coach Rardin,” says Gaura. “He was teaching us life lessons. 

“I hope I can have half the impact on our guys as he had on me and my teammates.”

Gaura reflects on the JUCO experience.

“It’s not for everybody,” says Gaura. “Guys understand that it’s just a stepping stone piece. 

“You’re working to win while you’re there. But you’re also working because you want to find your next home.”

At Austin Peay, he went 4-2 as a starter then a reliever in 2013 and 2014. His head coach as a APSU player was Gary McClure. He then became a volunteer coach for Travis Janssen.

The program was coming off two regional finals appearances when Austin Peay went to the Governors.

“I wanted to carry on winning ways (experienced at Iowa Western),” says Gaura. “After being around the guys, I knew that was the place for me.”

Gaura cites Janssen for his organization skills.

“He did a really good job of laying out what are jobs were as assistant coaches,” says Gaura. “There was no gray area at all.”

Laura prides himself of being organized with his Evansville pitchers.

“Having my guys know what to expect every day they show up to the field breeds confidence,” says Gaura. “They know exactly what’s expected of them. 

“They’re not showing up to the ballpark wondering. That way they can be mentally prepared when they get to the yard.”

Gaura is a 2010 graduate of Bay Port High School in Suamico, Wis. — just north of Green Bay. Playing for head coach Mike Simoens, he helped the Pirates to a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 1 state champions state title in 2009 and was a Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association all-star in 2010.

Given the frosty temperatures in northeast Wisconsin, Gaura learned how to get better on the diamond from April to August and what it means to train indoors. His first travel ball came in the summer before his senior year at Bay Port. Before that, he played American Legion Baseball.

“It was a very pure baseball experience,” says Gaura, who has five players from Wisconsin and two from Canada on the Evansville roster. “What I know we’re getting there is blue collar kids from good families. 

“Their best days are ahead of them. They find ways to eliminate the excuse of not being able to go outside for long toss. It’s about being creative. If you are really committed to getting better, there’s a million ways you can get your work in.”

While he does not have any camps scheduled and can see more and more virtual meetings in the future, Gaura was able to attend the American Baseball Coaches Association Barnstormers Clinics event Oct, 17 at Bosse Field in Evansville. Former Purples Aces head coach Jim Brownlee came out to share with the audience.

Gaura is engaged to Rachel Parrish and a wedding is planned for Dec. 5 in Orange Beach, Ala. The couple met when Gaura was coaching at Mississippi State.

A conversation with A.J. Gaura (Aces Insider Video)
A.J. Gaura enters his third season as a University of Evansville (Ind.) baseball assistant in 2020-21. He is the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Purple Aces. (University of Evansville Photo)

Lasher brought in to help with Oakland City transition

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Oakland City (Ind.) University is making a transition from NCAA Division I to NAIA and the Mighty Oaks baseball program has also changed its leadership.

Andy Lasher, who played at Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., Olney (Ill.) Central College and the University of Evansville and coached at Olney, the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville and for the Dubois County Bombers in Huntingburg, Ind., has been hired as OCU head coach.

T-Ray Fletcher, who was Oakland City head coach for 26 seasons, is still the school’s athletic director.

Since taking the job a few weeks ago, Lasher been concentrating on building up his roster.

“I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting though there are no games to watch,” says Lasher, referring to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic which has live baseball shut down at the moment. “There’s been a lot of calls and text messages.”

Lasher, who is tapping into his network of contacts, says he would like to have 35 players in the fall and 40 to 45 in the future so the Mighty Oaks can add a junior varsity program.

In moving from NCAA D-II to NAIA, Oakland City also goes from an independent to a member of the River States Conference, a circuit that also features baseball-playing schools Indiana University Kokomo and Indiana University Southeast.

That takes care of half the schedule. Lasher has the opportunity to fill in the rest of the games, choosing ones that are feasible and keeps players from missing too many classes.

It’s Lasher’s intent to schedule some contests in the fall.

Lasher’s assistants are Jacob Bedwell and Austen Bullington. Washington (Ind.) High School graduate Bedwell was on the OCU team last year. Castle grad Bullington played at Wabash Valley College and the University of Tennessee-Martin.

Lasher was hired by Southern Indiana  last summer and spent much of his time assisting Screaming Eagles head coach Tracy Achuleta with hitters and position players.

“I also kept track of academic progress and a lot of little things that don’t happen on the baseball field,” says Lasher. “That’s a much bigger percentage of the job than people realize.

“At the college level, it’s a lot more than the bats and balls. It’s a full-time job for a reason.

“(Archuleta) is one of my favorite people. He’s alot of fun to be around and a really good baseball mind. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Lasher performed many of the same duties during the 2019 season as an assistant on Jason Anderson’s coaching staff at Eastern Illinois University.

He was an assistant to Dennis Conley at Olney Central from the 2014 season until the fall of 2018.

“It was a really good experience I wouldn’t trade for the world,” says Lasher, who helped the Blue Knights win 173 games in five seasons.

An outfielder, Lasher played two seasons at Olney (2010 and 2011) for Conley and two at Evansville (2012 and 2013) for Wes Carroll.

Going to Castle, Lasher had heard all about alums Wes and brother Jamey Carroll (who played in the big leagues).

“(Wes Carroll) was a real good player’s coach,” says Lasher. “We had some good teams.”

The Purple Aces won 56 games in Lasher’s two seasons at UE. He played with five players — left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland (Colorado Rockies), lefty-swinging outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski (New York Mets), righty-batting Eric Stamets (Rockies), righty pitcher Kyle Lloyd (San Diego Padres) and lefty hurler Phillip Diehl (Rockies) — who eventually made it to the majors.

For five summers, Lasher was with the Bombers — 2014 as an assistant coach and 2015-18 as manager.

He got to guide many talented players, including New Mexico State University’s Daniel Johnson in 2015, USI’s Logan Brown in 2016 and NMSU’s Nick Gonzales in 2018.

Lefty-hitting outfielder Johnson is now on the Cleveland Indians’ 40-man roster.

Brown is a catcher in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Lasher calls shortstop Gonzales, who was the 2019 NCAA Division I batting champion, the best player he’s ever coached and expects him to be taken about the top picks in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The atmosphere created by Dubois County ownership and fans at League Stadium made Lasher’s time with the Bombers very enjoyable.

“It’s a great place to watch a game,” says Lasher. “It’s a shame they’re not getting to do it this summer (due to COVID-19 causing cancelation of the Ohio Valley League season).”

Lasher graduated in 2009 from Castle, where he played for Curt Welch.

“He was very intense,” says Lasher of Welch, who has also been an assistant wrestling coach for the Knights. “We were probably in better shape physically as any team in the country.”

There was plenty of running and ab workouts.

“It was worth it,” says Welch. “No doubt about it. It got guys ready for the college stuff. You have to be mentally tough and physically in shape in college or you just aren’t going to make it.”

Besides head baseball coach, Lasher is also in charge of maintaining Oakland City athletic fields and is gameday coordinator for any on-campus sporting events. The Mighty Oaks sponsor teams in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis for men and women and softball and volleyball for women.

Lasher and girlfriend, former Orleans (Ind.) High School, Olney Central and Brescia University basketball player Shelbi Samsil, recently moved to the north side of Indianapolis to be closer to Oakland City.

ANDYLASHEROAKLANDCITYU

Andy Lasher is the new head baseball coach at Oakland City (Ind.) University. He is a graduate of Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., and played at Olney (Ill.) Central College and the University of Evansville. He has coached at Olney, Eastern Illinois University, the University of Southern Indiana and with the summer collegiate Dubois County Bombers. (Oakland City University Photo)