Sixth-Seeded SFA Squares off with Third-Seeded Southeastern La. in Southland Tournament Opener

Sixth-Seeded SFA Squares off with Third-Seeded Southeastern La. in Southland Tournament Opener
(Source: SFA Athletics)

FROM SFA ATHLETICS

2019 Southland Conference Tournament | Tournament CentralGame Fifty-Six | #6 SFA (24-31) vs. #3 Southeastern Louisiana (30-25)Wednesday, May 22 | 9:00 a.m. | Constellation Field (7,500) | Sugar Land, TexasTickets | Watch (ESPN+/ESPN app) | Live Stats | Weather ForecastPitching Matchup | RHP Alex Palmer (6-6, 2.48 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Gaconi (7-2, 2.32 ERA)

LEADOFF HITS• After missing the cut for the Southland Conference Tournament one season ago, the SFA baseball team locked up a spot in the league's postseason tournament on the final week of the regular season. Now the sixth-seeded 'Jacks are set to begin their run in the 2019 Southland Conference Tournament at 9:00 a.m. Monday morning from Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas, when they face off against third-seeded Southeastern Louisiana. • Each and every game of the 2019 Southland Conference Tournament is set to be broadcast nationwide on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. The play-by-play tandem of Randy McIlvoy and Derek Fogel will be on the call for the third postseason meeting between the 'Jacks and Lions Wednesday morning. • Ticket to the Southland Conference Tournament are available for purchase online and will also be available at Constellation Field each day. An all-session pass is available for individuals wishing to each game of the league tournament with prices set at $65 for adults and $45 for youths (ages 6-17). Single-day tickets run $21 for adults, $13 for youths (ages 6-17). Youngsters five and under will be admitted for free as will students from Southland Conference institutions who present a valid student ID. • Of the 35 current players on the 'Jacks' active roster, only seven have played games in the Southland Conference Tournament before. Included in that group is Josh Campbell, Seth Campbell, Tony Grabowske, Austin Hearn, Jarrod Huberand Tyler Starks and two of those players - Hearn and Starks - have collected pitching wins in the Southland Conference Tournament. • Junior first baseman/designated hitter Jordan Monacy and senior infielder Antonio Lima head into Southland Conference Tournament play having recorded a hit in each of their last two games. Those current hit streaks have the two of them tied for the longest hit streak on the team at the moment.

TOURNAMENT TIME• The 'Jacks are making their eighth all-time appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament and their first since 2017. SFA made the cut for postseason play in 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 in addition to entering the fray as the sixth seed this season. All-time, the 'Jacks are 10-16 in Southland Conference Tournament action and are facing Southeastern Louisiana for the third time in postseason play. Below is SFA's record against all opponents in Southland Conference Tournament action.Central Arkansas | 2-1Lamar | 2-0McNeese | 1-0New Orleans | 0-1Oral Roberts* | 0-1Sam Houston State | 1-3Southeastern Louisiana | 1-1Texas A&M-Corpus Christi | 1-1Texas State* | 1-5UT-Arlington* | 0-2UTSA* | 1-1* | no longer a member of the Southland Conference• This will be the fourth time in program history the 'Jacks enter the Southland Conference Tournament as the sixth seed. When playing as the sixth seed, SFA is 4-6 all-time which included a 1-1 record against Southeastern Louisiana.

THE MANE EVENT• Sporting some flowing locks and a formidable pitching arsenal, junior right-hander Alex Palmer is well on his way to becoming one of the best hurlers to ever put on an SFA uniform. • Monday afternoon the Arlington, Texas, product became the third SFA player in the last four seasons to earn the title of Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year when he claimed the honor as the league unveiled its 2019 All-Southland Conference Teams and major award winners. • In addition to his selection as the league’s Newcomer of the Year, Palmer also received a spot on the All-Southland Conference First Team. He’s the first SFA pitcher in program history to be named a First Team choice by the league.• Those accolades were extremely well deserved after the numbers he has put up in his first season at an NCAA Division I institution. He has racked up 99 strikeouts through a staff-high 98 innings of work and owns SFA’s program records for most strikeouts in a single season. • In the Southland those 99 punchouts are the second-most and with one more he will become the first Lumberjack pitcher in program history to amass triple digits in a single season. On the national scene, Palmer ranks 33rd in strikeouts, 71st with a season ERA of 2.48, 34th in hits allowed per nine innings (6.15), and 39th in WHIP (1.00). • In the ‘Jacks’ series opener against Southland Conference adversary New Orleans last Thursday night, Palmer put forth the first nine-inning complete game effort by a Lumberjack pitcher in three years. Through his nine innings of work, the Arlington, Texas, product racked up eight strikeouts while surrendering just a single run on six hits and a pair of walks. SFA backed its ace with two runs and they held up in the ‘Jacks’ 2-1 victory that pushed them into the Southland Conference Tournament field. • That victory marked Palmer’s third-straight complete game outing pushing the right-hander’s total to a Southland Conference-leading four. Those four complete games put Palmer into a tie for fourth nationally among all NCAA Division I hurlers.• When pitching against Southland adversaries, Palmer’s numbers were better than his overall ones. Owning a 6-4 showing against league foes, the junior posted an ERA of 1.86 and held opponents to a batting average of just .191 through his 72 2/3 frames of work. Sixty-seven of his 99 strikeouts came in Southland Conference play.

HE'S PRETTY UHSE-FUL• Freshman outfielder Brandon Uhse has been one of the 'Jacks' best offensive players through his inaugural collegiate campaign. • The Grand Prairie, Texas, product leads the team in batting average (.279), hits (58) and runs scored (32). • His 56 hits are the second-most by any Southland Conference freshman this season.

SAVE IT• A strong bullpen has been a staple of SFA so far this season as the 'Jacks have recorded 18 saves throughout their 24 triumphs so far in 2019. Those 18 saves have helped the 'Jacks establish the program record for saves. The previous high save mark for a single season was 17 which was the number racked up by the 2011 club that won a program-best 37 games. • A team-leading six of those saves have gone to senior left-hander Tyler Starks who has made 22 appearances out of the 'Jacks bullpen. Two weeks ago the Mesquite, Texas, product notched his sixth and most recent save by tossing the final frame of the 'Jacks' non-conference victory at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. By making a pair of appearances in SFA's series at Nicholls last weekend, the final-year man has 102 in his career and stands alone as the program's leader in that statistical category.• On SFA's all-time saves charts, Starks sits in third place with 19 for his career. He will tie the program record by recording two more saves.• Five more of SFA's saves have been credited to junior right-hander Jeremy Rodriguez who ranks among the leaders in both the Southland and the nation with 24 total appearances out of the 'Jacks' bullpen. That appearance number will stay stuck on 24, unfortunately, as Rodriguez suffered a season-ending injury on Saturday, April 28, against Northwestern State.• Senior righty Jesus Gamez has locked down five more saves in 2019 so far. He possesses the team's fourth-lowest ERA at a mark of 3.15 on the year.• Austin Roth and Cully Mangus have each notched one save for the 'Jacks as well.• Though he has not yet recorded a save in 2019, senior Austin Hearn has been steadily moving up SFA's all-time appearances chart since the year began. Hearn has pitched in 93 games which is the third-most by any single player in program history.

SOUTHLAND SHUTOUTS• Just three other teams in the Southland Conference have racked up more shutout wins than the 'Jacks this season. SFA ranks 74th in the nation in shutout victories with a trio of them. • Those three shutout wins have all come in Southland Conference play and have helped SFA tie the program mark for the highest number of shutout wins in conference play in a single season.

DALEY DOSE• In his final season as a collegiate baseball player, senior outfielder Nick Daley has shown some speed that gives him an edge in the outfield and on the base paths.• The Gilbert, Ariz., native leads the team with 15 stolen bases this season. That works out to a per-game average of 0.27 which is the eighth-best among all Southland players. • For his career, Daley has swiped 36 bags in an SFA uniform - the fifth-most in program history.

BITTEN BY THE INJURY BUG• A pair of injuries have left the 'Jacks somewhat shorthanded over the last few weeks. • Sophomore outfielder Jared Martin has been out since the month of April dealing with a broken hand while junior relief arm Jeremy Rodriguez will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an arm injury in SFA's home game against Northwestern State on Sunday, April 28.

SERIES HISTORY | SFA vs. Southeastern LouisianaRecord vs. Southeastern Louisiana | 17-32 (.348)Streak | SFA won oneIn Nacogdoches, Texas | 9-16 (.360)Streak | SFA won oneIn Hammond, La. | 7-15 (.318)Streak | Southeastern Louisiana won fourAt neutral sites | 1-1 (.500)Streak | Southeastern Louisiana won oneLast meeting | Southeastern Louisiana 2, at SFA 4 (3/31/19)SFA runs/per game | 232/4.7Southeastern Louisiana runs/per game | 302 / 6.2Last Southeastern Louisiana win | at SFA 3, Southeastern Louisiana 11 (3/30/19)Last SFA win | Southeastern Louisiana 2, at SFA 4 (3/31/19)Cardenas vs. Southeastern Louisiana | 7-19 (.269)

SCOUTING SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS• After finishing in a tie for second place in the final version of the Southland Conference regular season standings, the Lions head to Sugar Land in search of their first Southland Conference Tournament crown in a half-decade. • Boasting 2019 Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year Corey Gaconi - who will oppose Alex Palmer Wednesday morning - the Lions possess the Southland's sixth-best ERA (4.78) and will be looking to open Southland Conference Tournament play with a win for the fifth consecutive season. • Also appearing on the list of All-Southland Conference honorees for the Lions were relief pitcher Jared Biddy and infielder Kyle Schimpf - both of whom earned Third Team accolades following their respective seasons.• Biddy headlines the Lions' bullpen and has racked up 10 of the team's 11 saves through his 45 innings of work. He has made 23 appearances out of the 'pen and is limiting batters to an average of .213 through the year. • Schimpf, meanwhile, serves as the team's primary offensive threat as he leads Southeastern Louisiana in batting average (.293), on-base percentage (.404), walks (33) and RBI (46). Nineteen of his 60 hits have gone for extra bases including 10 double and nine home runs. • Leading the way in terms of hits (64) and slugging percentage (.516) for Southeastern Louisiana is Preston Faulkner who, like Schimpf, has driven in 46 runs. He has done so on the strength of a team-best 29 extra-base hits which include 17 doubles and 11 long balls. • Getting into scoring position is something the Lions have excelled at all season. Four Southeastern Louisiana players have stolen 10 or more bases and leading the way in that category is Cody Grosse (.267/.367/.359) who is 23-of-30 on stolen base attempts this season. The Lions rank second in the Southland and 45th nationally with 80 swipes in 2019. • Southeastern Louisiana possesses a Southland-leading fielding percentage of .977 which is the 39th-highest in the nation.

ON DECK• No matter their result in their Southland Conference Tournament opener against the Lions, the 'Jacks will live to fight another day in Sugar Land. If SFA wins, it will face the winner of the day one matchup between second-seeded Central Arkansas and seventh-seeded Northwestern State at 4:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon. If the 'Jacks lose, they will face either the Bears or the Demons in an elimination game set for 9:00 a.m.