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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Baseball heads to Evansville after facing powerhouse Tenn.

BG baseball got their 2002 season out of the garage and gave it a test drive against Tennessee last weekend. After going 1-2 against the team that finished third in the College World Series last year, BG is not complaining, but the ride needs some tweaking.

“We look at the first few games like exhibition games,” coach Danny Schmitz said. “We need to see the starters go longer and the position players step up as we get closer to the MAC season.”

BG ran the gamut last weekend, getting no-hit Friday, nearly rallying to win Saturday, and out-slugging the Volunteers to a 15-11 win Sunday. Left-hander Doug Flere pitched his first collegiate game in 22 months Saturday after having ligament transplant surgery on his elbow. His velocity was good, but his control lagged a bit. He walked four and gave up two runs on one hit in the loss.

“My arm feels great,” he said. “I had some trouble throwing strikes. I’m not back to where I was before the injury, but I’m not holding back.”

“I was pleased with (Flere) last week, but next time he needs to get better,” pitching coach Tod Brown said. “He needs to cut down on the number of pitches he throws per inning.”

Today BG begins their second series of the season at the University of Evansville. Today will be the season opener for the Purple Aces and the debut of their new home, Charles H. Braun Stadium. Evansville is trying to rebound after losing six players off last year’s 36-21 team.

Junior Stever Obenchain fronts their pitching staff. He went 6-3 with a 2.53 ERA last year out of the bullpen. This year, he may be their number one starter. Seniors Wes Davis and Zack Brinson, and sophomore Shaun Williams are other pitchers the Falcons may face this weekend. Brinson was second on the team with a 3.81 ERA last season.

At the plate, Evansville is trying to find a way to replace the power lost off last year’s team that hit a school-record 64 home runs in 57 games. Blake Whealy and Mike Serafini are two of the most productive returners. Whealy hit .312 with a team-high 13 home runs and 37 RBI last season with nine home runs and 39 RBI. Serafini hit .327 with six home runs and 38 RBI.

The Aces’ infield has a starter from each class, with junior Luke Miller at first base, senior Whealy at second, redshirt freshman Courtney Campbell at shortstop, and sophomore Serafini at third. This weekend, Schmitz said he would like to get a look a some players who didn’t play last weekend, including infielders Nick Schmidt and Spencer Schmitz.

The Falcons will reset their pitching rotation for this weekend, which means they will use the same schedule as they did against Tennessee. Kyle Knoblauch will start today, Flere tomorrow, and Keith Laughlin Sunday.

“Last week was a pretty good first step,” freshman outfielder Jeff Warnock said. “As we keep playing, I expect we get better as we go along.”

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