Maverick Maniac's Musings

March 27, 2011

Summit League Preview – Baseball

Filed under: Baseball,The Summit League — Jon Green @ 1:35 pm

Since UNO is joining the Summit League, something new and unfamiliar to all of us, I thought it’d be helpful to take a look at the League and the Sports that they offer, and what UNO can expect.  For a list of all the posts on the different sports, please refer back to this intro.

Baseball History

Tournament and Regular Season History

The Summit League has been playing baseball since 1984.  There was no regular season the first year, but Missouri State won a tournament amongst the 7 teams to end the year.  Northern Iowa, who went 12-18 on the year, was actually the league runner-up.  Missouri State would go on to win the first 6 conference tournaments. The first regular season champion was Eastern Illinois who went 8-0 in 1985.  They went on to win 2 other regular season titles (1987 and 1991).  Wright State saw a brief period of dominance in the early 90’s as they won 3 straight titles from 1992 to 1994.  Oral Roberts has absolutely dominated baseball since joining the league in 1998.  They won the league tournament in 1998 and have not lost the tournament since, 13 straight titles.  They have also won the regular season title every year since 1999, although South Dakota State tied them in 2010 at 19-9, the first time Oral Roberts had more than 4 conference losses since before the streak started.  The last undefeated season was by Missouri State in 1990, at 11-0, while the most wins in a single season belong to Oral Roberts, who went 26-1 in 2000.

The conference tournament was originally hosted in Chicago, Illinois, and has been hosted there 10 times, but none since 1997.  Other locations to host it have been Charleston, Illinois (twice), Troy, Alabama (once), Shreveport, Louisiana (once), and Macomb, Illinois (once).  Since 1998 the tournament has been held in Tulsa, Oklahoma every year except for 2.  However in 2011 the tournament will be in Sioux Falls and is presented by American Airlines.  The top four teams in the conference will participate in the tournament, a basic double elimination tournament.

The Summit League was split into two divisions at two different periods.  Between 1985 and 1992 there was a Blue Division and a Gold Division.  From 1995 to 1998 the league was split into an East Division and a West Division.  There are no plans to return to a Divisional system at this point.

Award Winning Players

David Castillo (2002-03) and Dennis Bigley (2004-05), both from Oral Roberts, are the only two-time winners of the Player of the Year award.  Brian Anderson of Wright State was a two-time winner of the Pitcher of the Year award in 1992-93, Mike Rose of Oral Roberts accomplished the same feat in 1999-00 and Dennis Bigley of Oral Roberts did it in 2004-05.  Keith Guttin of Missouri State has won five Coach of the Year awards (1985-89), Dean Refakes of Illinois-Chicago won two, John Mayotte of Troy won two, Sunny Galloway of Oral Roberts won four, and his successor, Roby Walton, has won four as well.  Stan Hyman of Western Illinois has won it twice.  There has never been a player who won multiple tournament MVPs.

There have been 17 All-Americans since 1992 (depending on what sources you accept).  Four of those have been 1st team selections (Brian Van Kirk of Oral Roberts in 2008 by the ABCA and Collegiate Baseball, Dennis Bigley of Oral Roberts in 2004 by the ABCA, Jeff Stallings of Oral Roberts in 1999 by Collegiate Baseball, and Brian Anderson of Wright State in 1993 by Collegiate Baseball.  There have been 15 Freshman All-Americans since 1990, and 7 Academic All-Americans since 1984.  14 Summit Leaguers have made it to the Big Leagues.

NCAA Tournament History

Missouri State made the 1987 West II Regional, but lost both games they played 9-5 to Arizona State and 10-4 to Pepperdine.  A Summit League team wouldn’t make the NCAA Tournament again until 1994 when Wright State made the Mideast Regional.  Wright State knocked off North Carolina State 14-12 to open the tournament, but lost to Arizona State 7-4 and saw North Carolina State get the last laugh losing 10-6.  In 1995 Wright State was back playing a Play-In Series with conference rival Troy.  Troy won both games 16-7 and 6-5 to advance to the Atlantic I Regional.  Troy was swept at that regional 18-3 by Florida State and 8-5 by Mississippi.

In 1996 Northeastern Illinois got the chance to play in the Play-In Series against in-state rival Northern Illinois, and swept the series 5-1 and 9-2.  The were sent to the West Regional where they were rolled 16-0 by Florida State and 18-1 by Northeastern Illinois.  In 1997 Troy got the Play-In Series chance and swept Detroit 7-4 and 5-4, but were swept out of the South II Regional, 8-2 by Alabama and 5-2 by Southern Cal.

1998 marked the first year of Oral Roberts and saw the league see its first postseason success outside the Play-In Series since 1994.  ORU knocked Butler out in the Play-in, 5-4 (10) and 18-5.  Getting sent to the Central Regional ORU was beaten soundly by Rice 11-1 to open play, but responded with a 20-13 victory over Charlotte.  Washington ended ORU’s season with a 13-6 win.  1999 saw Oral Roberts go straight to the Wichita Regional, where they were promptly sent home, swept 13-5 by Wichita State and 12-4 by Oklahoma State.

In 2000 Oral Roberts got to stay closer to home going to Oklahoma City where they met Oklahoma.  It took 11 innings, but the Sooners finally topped ORU, 6-5.  ORU beat Delaware 4-2 to stay alive, but once again couldn’t top Oklahoma falling 9-7.  In 2001 ORU was sent West to the Los Angeles Regional and was swept 12-4 by Southern Cal and 2-1 by Fresno State.  In 2002 Oral Roberts had the most successful Summit League postseason run so far in the Wichita Regional.  They dispatched the host Wichita State 6-1 in the opener, fell to Arkansas 7-6, but then rebounded to knock out Wichita State with a 15-8 win.  In the regional final ORU lost to Arkansas 11-6.

In 2003 Oral Roberts was sent to College Station, Texas where they lost to a pair of Texas teams, Texas A&M 6-3 and Houston 4-2.  In 2004 Oral Roberts went to Austin for a regional where they swept TCU 6-5 and 10-1, but were swept by Texas 6-5 and 7-3  to end their season.  In 2005 Oral Roberts made their second regional final, this time at the Clemson Regional.  ORU lost their opener 5-2 to the College of Charleston, but rebounded to beat North Carolina A&T 6-3 and CoC 6-0.  In the Regional Final they lost 8-3 to Clemson.

In 2006 Oral Roberts finally broke through, sweeping through the Fayetteville Regional.  They started things off with a 4-3 win over Arkansas in 11 innings, then knocking off Oklahoma State 5-4 to reach the final and beating Oklahoma State 9-2 again to win the Regional.  They were paired with Clemson (where their season had ended the year before) and were swept 11-8 and 6-5.  In 2007 Oral Roberts hoped to build on their success from the previous season, but were swept out of the Wichita Regional, 4-3 by Arizona and 11-4 by Wichita State.

In 2008 Oral Roberts was sent to the Lincoln regional, matched in the first round with UC Irvine who beat ORU 9-7.  ORU was able to stave off elimination defeating one-time Summit League member Eastern Illinois 8-7 in 10 innings, and then upsetting the host Huskers 8-0 to reach the final.  Unfortunately ORU fell by the same 8-0 margin against UC Irvine, a Cinderella team which made a run to the CWS.

In 2009 Oral Roberts put up a fight in the Tempe Regional beating Cal Poly 13-3, losing to Arizona State 4-1, beating Kent State 15-10, and finally losing to Arizona State again, this time by a score of 8-3.

2010 Season

In 2010 Oral Roberts’ Tyler Saladino won Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, Centenary’s Boone Whiting won Pitcher of the Year, and South Dakota State’s Ritchie Price was Coach of the Year.  Chris Elder of Oral Roberts was the Tournament MVP.  Boone Whiting of Centenary was named a 3rd team All-American by Ping!Baseball last year, while Trever Vermeulen of South Dakota State was named a 3rd teamer by the NCBWA.  Taylor Shaw of Southern Utah was named to Ping!Baseball’s 3rd team Freshman All-American team, while John Lee of South Dakota State was named to CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine’s 1st team Academic All-American team and Zach Wentz of North Dakota State was named to the 2nd team.

South Dakota State and Oral Roberts each went 19-9, with SDSU winning the tiebreaker to claim the #1 seed for the conference tournament.  Centenary went 17-9 to get the #3 seed while Oakland went 13-14, barely holding off 13-15 IPFW, for the #4 seed.  SDSU and Oral Roberts both won their opening games, and Oral Roberts pounded SDSU 21-6 to advance to the title game.  Oakland upset Centenary 7-2 in an elimination game before SDSU eliminated them 20-4 to move into the title game vs. Oral Roberts.  Needing to win twice South Dakota State wasn’t even able to get the first one, losing 12-2 to give Oral Roberts its 13th straight tournament title.

Oral Roberts advanced to the postseason and was sent to the Norman Regional, hosted by Oklahoma, as the 4 seed.  ORU put up a great fight, but fell in 10 innings, 7-6.  They were able to eliminated California the next day by winning 9-8, but lost to North Carolina 12-4 to finish 3rd in the regional.

In individual records, Billy Stitz of South Dakota State set a conference record with 111 hits and with 273 at-bats, Teammate Joel Blake set the conference record with 33 doubles. Oral Roberts’ Seth Frumanek set a record with 25 home runs.  Pitcher Trever Vermeulen of South Dakota State set a record with 35 appearances for the team.

2011 Season

Several players are climbing the career charts this year.  Billy Stitz of SDSU came into the year 15th with 670 career at-bats and could climb into the top spot.  Justin Kline of NDSU enters the year #8 in Career Batting Average at .389, while teammate Zach Wentz is 20th at .370 and SDSU’s Joel Blake is 18th at .372.  Stitz started the year 19th with 143 runs scored and could climb into the top 3, while his 234 career hits is 10th and he should mount a serious run at the all-time record.  Additionally his 48 career doubles ranks 10th and he should reach the top of that chart, except teammate Joel Blake has 54 already, ranking 4th, and will almost surely become the all-time leader this year.  Stitz starts the year 17th with 9 triples and could reach the top 10 in that category, starts with 357 total bases, 8th all-time, and could finish the all-time leader in that category as well.  On the RBI chart he’s currently 15th with 137, within range of a run at the top of the chart.  Jesse Sawyer’s 38 career home runs places him 6th, and the Jackrabbit will probably take over that category later this year.  His .700 slugging percentage is 4th best all-time, and his 29 times hit by pitch currently ranks 9th.  Finally Joel Blake of SDSU enters the year 20th in slugging percentage at .614.

As far as pitchers go, Justin Kraft of Centenary enters the year at 18th with 19 career wins, within reach of the top 5 with a good season.  Trever Vermeulen of SDSU had 13 career saves sitting at 9th, and within reach of the top 5, as is Stephen Tromblee who has 9 and sits in 17th.  Boone Whiting of Centenary has 251 career strikeouts, placing him in 8th, and has a shot at the top 3.

Oral Roberts is the pick to win the league again with SDSU to odds-on favorite to finish 2nd.  Oakland and Southern Utah finished tied in voting for 3rd, with Western Illinois, North Dakota State, Centenary and IPFW rounding out the poll.

Currently all the teams are under .500 except for Oral Roberts who is 8-7.  South Dakota State at 7-9 and Southern Utah at 7-10 have the look of contenders, while all the other teams have a winning percentage of .250 or less.

As a league the teams are 2-20 vs. teams from BCS conferences (Oral Roberts has defeated both Arizona State and Baylor) with 15 chances left this year.


South Dakota does not participate in baseball, so the Summit League will be down to just 7 baseball teams with the loss of Centenary next year.  Southern Utah will leave in the Summer of 2012, but UNO will jump into their spot and the league will continue with 7 teams for now.  It will be interesting to see how the Mavericks compete from the start.  While ineligible for NCAA Tournament play, the Mavericks will be able to qualify for the Summit League Tournament and could push for that early on.  In 2009 if Centenary had been out of the league, 17-38 IPFW would have been the 4 seed in the conference tournament.  Already a top-level team in the MIAA, a league with several nationally ranked D2 baseball teams, it would seem UNO could push for a conference tournament spot fairly quick.



  1. […] Baseball Men’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Men’s Cross Country Women’s Cross Country Men’s Golf Women’s Golf Men’s Soccer Women’s Soccer Softball Men’s Swimming and Diving Women’s Swimming and Diving Men’s Tennis Women’s Tennis Men’s Track and Field Women’s Track and Field Volleyball […]

    Pingback by Summit League Introduction and History « Maverick Maniacs’ Musings — March 27, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  2. Jon, I’m glad to see you abroad The Summit League train.

    Comment by Vernon J — March 27, 2011 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks Vernon.

    I’ve never thought it’s a bad fit as a league for UNO. Still am not convinced it was the right move to go D1, but hey that doesn’t matter anymore. As a proud Alumni of UNO I’m gonna support the remaining teams as best I can and work hard promoting things to hope it works out great for UNO!

    Comment by Jon Green — March 27, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

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