The latest Polar Vortex sweeping through the middle part of the country has forced a change in this weekend's ACU baseball schedule that will bring a Big 12 baseball team to Crutcher Scott Field for the first time.
And not just any Big 12 team; the defending league champion Kansas State Wildcats will be in town after the latest winter storm wiped out their weekend home series against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Manhattan, Kan. Joining Kansas State and ACU in the Bourland-Ardoin Classic at Crutcher Scott Field will be Grand Canyon (Ariz.) and Missouri State. Ticket prices are $5 for adults (13 and above) and free for children 12 and under.
Grand Canyon, like ACU, is in its first year transitioning from NCAA Division II status to NCAA Division I affiliation. The four teams combined are 16-14 on the young season with ACU carrying a 5-1 mark into the weekend. Missouri State is 6-2, Grand Canyon 4-4 and K-State off to a 1-7 start.
ACU's first game in the classic will be Friday at 7 p.m. against Missouri State, and it's tentatively scheduled to be broadcast via Web stream at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/abilene.portal. ACU will play Grand Canyon at 3 p.m. Saturday, and will then finish up the classic at 3 p.m. Sunday against Kansas State in a game that will be broadcast locally on 98.1 FM and also via live audio / video feed on acusports.com
The Wildcats are 5-1 on the season after winning two of three games last weekend in the Al Scott Memorial Classic in Abilene, losing to Central Arkansas last Friday before beating New Jersey Tech on Saturday and once again on Sunday. ACU enters this weekend hitting .347 as a team and with a 2.88 team ERA. Opponents so far are hitting just .247 and opposing teams have a 6.60 ERA against ACU.
ACU has been led offensively by senior catcher / infielder Seth Spivey, who is hitting .571 with one home run and seven RBI on the season. Freshman outfielder Brandon Grudzielanek is hitting .417 with six RBI, while freshman shortstop Aaron Draper is hitting .385 with a team-best 10 RBI.
The pitching staff has been led by the 1-2 starting pitching punch of Nate Cole and Garrett Demeyere. Cole is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA, while Demeyere is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA.
Here's a glance at each of the other three teams that will be in Abilene this weekend:
Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12): The defending Big 12 champion Wildcats are off to a 1-7 start after losing three games at Cal Poly to start the season and three of four last weekend at the Saint Mary's Gael Invitational. … Kansas State was scheduled to have host Wisconsin-Milwaukee this weekend in Manhattan, Kan., but the latest winter storm has already cancelled that series. … Kansas State enters this weekend hitting .214 as a team with Austin Fisher – a first team all-Big 12 selection as a sophomore in 2013 – hitting .423, the only Wildcat currently hitting better than .300. … The Wildcats also have a team ERA of 5.56. … Jared Moore leads the pitching staff with a 1-1 record and 3.48 ERA. … Opposing teams are hitting .313 and opposing pitching staffs have a 3.00 ERA against the Wildcats.
About head coach Brad Hill (11th season): During his time as the K-State skipper, Hill has guided the Wildcats from the depths of the league to four NCAA?Regional appearances, a Super Regional berth and the first conference championship since 1933. The success, which reached an all-time high in 2013, is a continuation of a stellar career in which Hill has amassed a winning percentage of .693 (756-334-3) at four-year schools, which ranks sixth nationally among active coaches.
Missouri State Bears (Missouri Valley Conference): The Bears are 6-2 on the season after opening the season two weeks ago by taking two of three games from Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark. … Last week the Bears won three of four at the New Mexico Lobo Invitational and then knocked off Oral Roberts, 3-2 in 10 innings, on Tuesday. … Missouri State was to have opened its home schedule this weekend with a three-game series against Purdue in Springfield, Mo., but the latest winter storm cancelled that series as well. … Eric Cheray leads the Bears at the plate with a .333 average to go along with two home runs and 10 RBI. … Conor Smith is hitting .324 with one home run and seven RBI. … Cody Schumacher is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and nine strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. … Jon Harris is 1-0 with a 0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 innings of work. … The Bears have a 3.30 team ERA.
About head coach Keith Guttin (32nd season): During Guttin's tenure, 110 Bears have signed professional contracts, including four first-round draft picks and 13 players who advanced to the Major Leagues. Additionally, MSU has won 11 regular-season or conference tournament championships and made eight Division I NCAA Tournament appearances, including seven in the last 18 years. In 2003, Guttin led the Bears to the NCAA Division I College World Series for the first time in school history and has been a conference Coach of the Year 10 times. He was selected the American Baseball Coaches Association Division I Midwest Region Coach of the Year in 1997 and again in 2003.
Grand Canyon Antelopes (Western Athletic Conference): The Antelopes are 4-4 on the season after losing three of four at Louisiana-Monroe to open the season and then bouncing back last weekend to take three of four from Hofstra in Phoenix. … Grand Canyon was to have been in Abilene this weekend for a three-game series against the Wildcats (Friday-Sunday), but that was changed when Kansas State and Missouri State were added to the field. … The Antelopes are hitting .391 as a team, led by David Walker at .393 with five RBI and three stolen bases in the early going. … Chad De La Guerra is hitting .387 with one home run and 11 RBI on the season. … Jorge Perez leads a solid pitching staff with a 1-1 record and 1.12 ERA. … The Antelopes – who reached the NCAA Division II World Series last year in the program's final season at the NCAA Division II level – have a team ERA of 3.52.
About head coach Andy Stankiewicz (3rd season): Last season, Stankiewicz led GCU to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships in Cary, N.C. after the squad boasted an impressive 40-19 overall record. The 'Lopes won the NCAA Division II West Region Championships after earning the fourth seed in the tournament. Stankiewicz was named the ABCA/Rawlings Division II West Region Coach of the Year as his team posted its most wins since collecting 43 in 1990. He was also named Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year after GCU earned a share of the conference crown for the first time since joining in 2007. in 2012, he guided the 'Lopes to a 27-23 overall record as the squad finished eighth in the final West Region poll. Stankiewicz was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 12th-round of the 1986 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut with the Yankees on April 11, 1992. Stankiewicz played in parts of seven Major League seasons, with the Yankees (1992-93), Houston Astros (1994-95), Montreal Expos (1996-97) and the inaugural season of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. Stankiewicz was a standout infielder at Pepperdine University and ranks in the schools top 10 in runs scored (172), triples (9), at-bats (755), stolen bases (101) and games played (220).
Crutcher Scott Field
Abilene Christian University
Friday, Feb. 28
1 p.m. – Kansas State at Grand Canyon
7 p.m. – Missouri State at Abilene Christian
Saturday, March 1
11 a.m. – Grand Canyon at Kansas State
3 p.m. – Grand Canyon at Abilene Christian
7 p.m. – Kansas State at Missouri State