College baseball: Pumas enter postseason with eye on D-II playoff berth
By Mike CLark Post-Tribune correspondent May 8, 2013 10:46PM
Updated: June 10, 2013 2:27PM
If this trend continues, St. Joseph’s relievers will be modern-day version of the Maytag repairman, sitting around all day with nothing to do.
That’s because the Pumas’ starters have been pretty good at finishing this spring.
St. Joseph’s heads into the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament — which opens Thursday in Evansville — with a 29-16 record that includes 18 complete games.
Four of those came in one weekend series against Lewis, which presented an interesting problem: how to keep those relievers sharp?
“You can only do so many simulated games,” Pumas coach Rick O’Dette said.
The staff is led by sophomore right-hander Jordan Peterson, a Chesterton grad who was named the GLVC Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday. Going into the league tourney, Peterson is 8-1 with a 1.67 earned run average and a 79-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 86 innings. He has completed seven of his 11 starts, throwing three shutouts.
“We expected some great things from him,” O’Dette said of Peterson and the award. “It’s well-deserved.”
The rest of the rotation hasn’t been too shabby, either.
Freshman Brian Bayliss Jr. is 6-1 with a 1.80 ERA, junior Brett Maus is 4-5, 2.56 and sophomore Jake Harper is 5-2, 2.87.
“We knew he was good, a hard-throwing right-hander,” O’Dette said of Bayliss. “(But) you never expect a freshman to come in like that.”
If the Pumas’ starters keep this up, Rensselaer could be a popular stop for pro scouts down the road.
“We only have one draft-eligible arm this year (Maus),” O’Dette said. “Next year will be a pretty busy year.”
First, though, the Pumas have more pressing business. They’re currently ranked third in the Midwest Region and could secure one of the region’s six berths in the NCAA Division II playoffs with a decent showing in the league tournament. St. Joseph’s, seeded fourth in the eight-team field, opens at 11 a.m. Thursday at Bosse Field in Evansville against fifth-seeded Missouri Science and Technology (24-23). The title game of the double-elimination tourney is set for 11 a.m. Sunday, with an if-necessary game to follow at 2:30 p.m.
“I think we’re playing great baseball,” O’Dette said. “When we have lost, they’ve all been tough losses. We’re swinging the bat well this last month. We didn’t start that way.”
Leading the way offensively for the Pumas are junior outfielder Charlie Dennehey, who’s hitting .380 with 28 RBI; senior catcher Kolin Conner (.329, 42 RBI) and senior third baseman Jake Roberts (.324, 28 RBI).
But it all comes back to those pitchers when the Pumas think about their postseason chances.
“We get a starter out there, he can shorten the back end of the game quite a bit,” O’Dette said.
Sometimes all the way to the point of leaving those relievers with nothing to do.