Offseason position battle: Murray St. outfielder

College Baseball

Zach Noonan; BluGrass Baseball photo

In the fourth Murray State University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the vacant outfield position.

The departed — Outfielder Daniel Hill, a 2010 senior, started 33 games in right field and six as the designated hitter for the Breds in 2010. On the season he batted .284 with five home runs, 37 RBI and 33 runs scored. As a junior Hill batted .344 with a then school-record 16 home runs…Utility man Bryan Propst started 26 games in left field, five games in right field, five games at first base and 15 as the Breds’ designated hitter in 2010. Propst was second on the team in batting (.366), home runs (14), runs scored (57), hits (75), RBI (56) and total bases (140). He tied for the team lead with 19 doubles.

Returning candidates — The Breds return their every day center fielder in senior Elliot Frey, who started 51 games in the outfield in 2010, and corner outfielder senior Zach Noonan, who started 50 games in the outfield last season… The race for the third outfield spot is wide open as Murray state returns just one player who started a game in the outfield in 2010, and that player, senior catcher Drew Pixley, started just one game…Freshman outfielder Brandon Eggenschwiler and Ty Stetson both redshirted during the 2010 season.

Newcomers to watch — Murray St. head coach Rob McDonald added two junior college transfers to the outfield mix for the 2011 Breds. Redshirt sophomore Paul Ritzheimer comes to Murray from Kaskaskia Community College where he batted .405 with three home runs and 20 RBI as a freshman…Junior outfielder Cody Larson batted .263 with three home runs, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored as a sophomore at Skyline Junior College…Freshman left-handed pitcher and outfielder Brock Downey was named first-team all state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association as a senior at Murray High School. Downey batted .550 with 52 stolen bases as a senior.

Wildcard — The wildcard in the Murray State outfield race may be the only returning reserve who started a game in the outfield in 2010: senior catcher Drew Pixley. The Breds boast five catchers on the roster with Pixley and junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes leading the race for playing time. If McDonnell wants to get both players in the lineup, he could try Pixley in the outfield once again.

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Offseason position battle: Murray St. first baseman

College Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

In the latest offseason position battle post we will look at the vacant Murray State University first base position:

The departed — All-American Wes Cunningham started 52 of the Breds’ 57 games at first base before being drafted by the Sand Diego Padres in the 17th round of the 2010 draft. Cunningham led Murray State in batting average (.408), on-base percentage (.476), slugging percentage (.824), hits (95), home runs (22), RBI (86), runs (77), triples (6) and total bases (192). Cunningham’s 86 RBI and 192 total bases ranked fifth in the country and his 22 home runs ranked 12th. Senior Bryan Propst also started the other five games at first base for Murray St.

Returning candidates — Rising sophomore Colton Moore is the only returning Bred who logged any time at first base in 2010. Moore played the last two innings of Murray St.’s May 28 Ohio Valley Conference tournament win over Eastern Illinois at first base. Moore started 19 games at third base and 24 at designated hitter so he could make the switch to first base in 2011 if he can handle the position defensively full-time. Redshirt freshman infielder Jordan Queen figures to earn some playing time in the infield and had a RBI singled during the fall World Series.

Newcomers to watch — Junior college transfer Tyler Beers is the only player listed as a first baseman on the roster, but will also likely pitch some for Murray St. During the final game of the fall World Series Beers tallied a RBI single. Beers batted .300 with five home runs and 25 RBI as a sophomore for Mineral Area College.

Wildcard — Murray State has five catchers listed on the roster, so head coach Rob McDonald could consider moving one to first base. At 6-1 junior college transfer Jacob Rhodes is the tallest of the group but will likely battle with Drew Pixley for the majority of the playing time at catcher. McDonald could also move one of the seven outfielders on the roster to first base.

Draft Preview: Ohio Valley Conference

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo

The state’s three Ohio Valley Conference teams don’t have multiple draft prospects, so we’ll lump them all together for the next preview post. These players will test the importance of college state because several of them posted video game numbers this season:

The test cases

  • Murray State University senior first baseman Wes Cunningham was named OVC player of the year in a season where he batted .408 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI and 77 runs. The third team Louisville Slugger All-American doesn’t have a great fit on defense, struggles against left-handed pitching and is undersized for a first baseman. Cunningham will get drafted, probably in the first 30 rounds for his numbers alone, but will have to prove himself at every level of professional baseball. Baseball America projects he’ll need to move to second base as a pro, where he would have slightly above average speed.
  • Eastern Kentucky University junior third baseman Jayson Langfels struggled toward the end of 2010, which certainly didn’t help his draft status, but has boasted back-to-back .350-plus seasons. He batted over .400 as a sophomore and slugged 16 home runs as a junior. Langfels could probably use another year of college and will likely head back to EKU unless he’s drafted surprisingly high.

Senior standouts

  • Morehead State University hitters’ offensive numbers are boosted by the school’s small park, but senior shortsop Drew Lee and senior outfielder J. D. Ashbrook still boasted abnormally impressive performances. Lee batted .412 while Ashrook hit .432 on the season. Lee slugged 17 home runs, and Ashbrook added 18 long-balls of his own. Both players will hope to be late-round senior signs where they’ll look to prove detractors wrong.
  • EKU senior first baseman Anthony Ottrando slugged 17 home runs and drove in 66, but will hope a team selects him late as an organizational filler due to his limited upside.
  • Murray St. senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft underperformed as a senior but could profile as a middle reliever if given the chance, and Morehead St. senior catcher Taylor Davis batted .350 on the season.

Other possible senior signs:

  • C Joey Stevens (EKU)
  • RHP Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.)
  • OF Bryan Propst (Murray St.)
  • LHP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)

Season Review: Murray State University

College Baseball

In the second season review post we’ll look at Murray State University, which finished 28-28-1. Check out these highlights and awards for Breds’ players:

  • Hitter of the year: 1B Wes Cunningham — Cunningham’s selection should come as no surprise as he was named the BluGrass Baseball state player of the year. The senior first baseman led Murray St. in every major offensive category, batting .408 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI and 77 runs scored. Cunningham had a .476 on-base percentage, slugged .824 and even stole 10 bases on the season. The Ohio Valley Conference player of the year will look to be a mid-to-late round selection in this summer’s draft.
  • Pitcher of the year: RHP Matt McGaha — McGaha started only one game this season for Murray St., and that start didn’t come until the OVC tournament. Despite making 26 relief appearances, McGaha qualified for the state ERA title with 67 innings pitched. The senior left-handed pitcher finished the year at 5-3 with a 3.90 ERA, 52 strikeouts and 13 walks. McGaha also saved three games this season.
  • Season high point: Senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love threw 180 pitches in two days to earn wins on back-to-back days in the OVC tournament. Love’s complete-game win in the OVC tournament ended up being his final collegiate appearance.
  • Season low point: With a chance to clinch to OVC regular season title outright, Murray St. was swept in a three game series by second-place Tennessee Tech to finish the season. The Breds entered the OVC tournament at the three seed instead of the one seed after the sweep and lost its first round game to Eastern Kentucky University.
  • Miscellaneous: The Breds received strong performances from freshmen Colton Moore (.328, 39 RBI, 23 R) and Brandon Elliott (.347, 25 RBI, 41 R)…Senior outfielder Bryan Propst was a consistent threat in the Breds’ lineup and slugged 14 home runs and drove in 56 runs…Senior ace Chris Craycraft had an up-and-down season with six wins but a 5.05 ERA. Craycraft pitched two complete games.

BluGrass Baseball Conference Tournament Awards

College Baseball

Check out the final weekly awards from the Kentucky collegiate baseball season, including a pitching performance that saw one Murray State pitcher throw 180 pitches in two consecutive games.

Hitter of the week: OF Bryan Propst (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 13-22 (.591), 1 HR, 6 2B, 11 RBI, 6 R
  • Honorable mention: Richie Rodriguez (EKU), Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Logan Robbins (WKU), Ryan Wright (UofL)

Pitcher of the week: RHP Alex Love (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 2-0, 2 G, 1 GS, 1 CG, 14 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, 180 pitches in two days (his final two collegiate appearances)
  • Honorable Mention: Jake Donze (Murray St.), Anthony Bazzani (EKU), Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), Shane Cameron (WKU), Justin Amlung (UofL), Matt Koch (UofL)

Freshman of the week: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU)

  • Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL), Matt Koch (UofL)

BluGrass Baseball Saturday Review: Conference Tournaments

College Baseball

The state’s run in its various conference tournaments ended Saturday with losses by UofL and Murray St. The Cards still have the NCAA tournament to look forward to, but the loss ends the season for Murray St. Check out recaps and awards from those games below:

  • No. 9 University of Louisville was eliminated from the double-elimination Big East Conference tournament with a 5-3 loss to St. Johns Saturday. Senior catcher Jeff Arnold, senior first baseman Andrew Clark and junior center fielder Josh Richmond each tallied two hits in the game for UofL. Junior left-handed pitcher Bob Revesz took the loss in a rare start after allowing four runs in four and two-third innings. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University saw its season come to an end after Ohio Valley Conference tournament one-seed Tennessee Tech scored 10 runs in the fourth inning in route to a 15-6 victory. Murray St. finished 28-28-1 on the season. Freshman shortstop Brandon Elliott was 3-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Senior left fielder Bryan Propst added a home run in the last game of his career. Junior left-handed pitcher Matt McGaha took the loss in his first start of the season after allowing eight runs, only four of which were earned, in three and two-third innings. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: SS Brandon Elliot (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 3-4, 1 HR, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • Honorable Mention: Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Andrew Clark (UofL), Josh Richmond (UofL)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Brad Rowland (Murray St.)

  • Stats: .2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
  • Honorable Mention: No honorable mentions in the weakest pitching performance day of the season for Kentucky college baseball.

BluGrass Baseball Friday Review: Conference Tournaments

College Baseball


The Bluegrass lost another conference tournament team Friday with EKU’s elimination at the hands of in-state rival Murray St. However, both UofL and the Breds remain in their respective tournaments. Check out recaps and awards from Friday’s games below and post-game interviews from Murray St.’s win over EKU above:

  • Murray State University scored four runs in the first inning and didn’t look back in a 10-2 win over Eastern Kentucky University in an Ohio Valley Conference tournament elimination game. The loss ended the Colonels’ season. Murray St. redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Jake Donze pitched a complete game, allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out seven while walking just two. Four different Breds’ batters tallied two hits in the game. EKU junior left-fielder Bryce Labhart was 3-4 with one RBI. (Box Score)
  • The Breds returned to action at 3 p.m. in a second elimination game and rode another complete game performance from senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love to a 14-4 win over Southeast Missouri. The game was delayed by rain for five hours in the ninth inning. Love had pitched five innings on Thursday as well. Senior left fielder Bryan Propst was 4-5 with three RBI and two runs scored, and senior first baseman Wes Cunningham added three hits an a home run. Love surrendered three earned runs, struck out three and walked two. (Box Score)
  • No 9 University of Louisville blew a late lead but rode a two-run home run from redshirt sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames in the top of the 11th inning to a 9-7 win over South Florida in an elimination game in the Big East Conference tournament. Senior third baseman Phil Wunderlich was 4-6 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored. Redshirt freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung took a no-decision, but allowed just two runs in seven innings. Junior right-handed closer Neil Holland recorded his eighth win of the season. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 5-10, 1 HR, 4 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B
  • Honorable Mention: Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Stewart Ijames (UofL), Bryce Labhart (EKU)

Pitcher of the day: LHP Jake Donze (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 1-0, 9 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Alex Love (Murray St.), Justin Amlung (UofL)

BluGrass Baseball Thursday Review: Conference Tournaments

College Baseball


Check out the video above of EKU interviews following the win over Murray St. and recaps and awards below from a busy day of conference tournament baseball, including what was likely WKU’s final game of the season:

  • In a Ohio Valley Conference tournament first-round game delayed to Thursday due to a power failure Wednesday night, Eastern Kentucky University scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat Murray State University 4-3. Freshman right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani earned the win after holding the Breds to three runs on six hits in eight innings. Bazzani struck out 10 and walked four. EKU Sophomore shortstop Richie Rodriguez was 4-5 with a run scored, and sophomore catcher A. J. Jamison drove home the winning run with a pinch-hit double in the ninth. Murray St. senior left fielder Bryan Propst was 2-3 with three RBI in the game, and senior right-handed pitcher Chris Craycraft held the Colonels to two runs in seven innings and struck out eight. (Box Score)
  • Western Kentucky University was eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 7-3 loss to Florida International Thursday. The loss likely ended the Hilltoppers’ season as WKU’s hopes for an at-large NCAA tournament bid were dashed. Sophomore outfielder Jared Andreoli and Kes Carter tallied two hits each in the game, and sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins drove in two runs. Senior right-handed pitcher Shane Cameron took a no decision after allowing three runs in six and one-third innings in his final start. WKU senior ace Matt Ridings did not pitch in the tournament after leaving his final regular season start with an apparent injury. (Box Score)
  • Following a short-turnaround from its game-one loss Murray St. scored six runs in the first inning and held off a late rally for a 13-9 win over Southeast Missouri in ten innings. Senior second baseman Kyle Tiernan put the Breds ahead with a solo home run in the tenth inning, and senior first baseman Wes Cunningham extended the lead with his own three-run shot, giving him the school career RBI record. Propst tallied four hits, three RBI and two runs scored, and senior right-handed pitcher Alex Love allowed one run over the final five innings for the win. (Box Score)
  • No. 9 University of Louisville lost its first game in the Big East Conference tournament with a 6-5 decision to St. Johns Thursday night. The loss could hurt UofL’s chances at one of the eight national NCAA tournament seeds, and the Cards could use a victory Friday to wrap up that honor. Freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Koch allowed just two earned runs in six and two-third innings, but the Cards bullpen behind senior left-handed pitcher Dean Kiekhefer blew the lead. Sophomore shortstop Ryan Wright was 4-4 with two RBI and one run scored in the game. (Box Score)
  • In its second game of the day, EKU couldn’t finish a late rally against OVC tournament one-seed Tennessee Tech and lost 7-4. Sophomore second baseman Dunstin Dunlop was 2-2 with two runs scored and two walks, but the Colonels couldn’t over come a poor pitching performance from junior left-handed pitcher Paul Duncan who surrendered seven runs in six and one-third innings. Murray St. and EKU will face off for the second time in the tournament with an elimination game at 11 a.m. (CT) Friday. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: OF Bryan Propst (Murray St.)

  • Stats: 6-8, 5 RBI, 3 R, 5 2Bs
  • Honorable Mention: Ryan Wright (UofL), Logan Robbins (WKU), Wes Cunningham (Murray St.), Richie Rodriguez (EKU)

Pitcher of the day: RHP Anthony Bazzani (EKU)

  • Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Chris Craycraft (Murray St.), Matt Koch (UofL), Shane Cameron (WKU), Alex Love (Murray St.)

BluGrass Baseball Postseason All-State Team

College Baseball

Matt Rice bats for WKU: BluGrass Baseball photo

Now that the collegiate regular season is officially over it’s time to name the BluGrass Baseball postseason All-State team. You can see the preseason and mid-season teams on the All-State team page here. I had to do a little maneuvering to fill out the team, for instance both the first and second team include a pitcher who didn’t start on the weekend in the final SP slot. Matt McGaha qualified for the ERA title, so I had no problem including him despite only pitching in relief, but Brian Edelen was the best of a lackluster group of candidates for the third SP spot on the second team. He made 11 starts on the season. UK utility man Gunner Glad spent most of his time at first base, but his outfield time gives him the nod for the final second-team outfield position. Check back tomorrow for the player, pitcher and freshman of the year awards.

Stats are listed as batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage for batters.

First Team

  • C — Matt Rice — Western Kentucky University — .373/.446/.579, 10 HR, 63 RBI, 49 R
  • 1B — Wes Cunningham — Murray State University — .415/.484/.835, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 69 R
  • 2B — Ryan Wright — University of Louisville — .361/.412/.635, 14 HR, 66 RBI, 52 R
  • 3B — Zack Cox — Arkansas — .432/.514/.607, 8 HR, 47 RBI, 60 R
  • SS — Drew Lee — Morehead State University — .412/.485/.765, 17 HR, 66 RBI, 60 R, 13 SB
  • OF — J. D. Ashbrook — Morehead St. — .432/.540/.795, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 69 R, 14 SB
  • OF — Stewart Ijames — UofL — .344/.426/.590, 12 HR, 57 RBI, 40 R
  • OF — Kes Carter — WKU — .343/.418/.492, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 38 R, 13 SB
  • DH — Jayson Langfels — Eastern Kentucky University — .373/.483/.736, 16 HR, 50 RBI, 53 R
  • SP — Thomas Royse — UofL — 9-1, 2.71 ERA, 88 SO/25 BB, 93 IP, .249 BA against
  • SP — Matt Ridings — WKU — 9-1, 3.01 ERA, 90 SO/17 BB, 92.2 IP, .218 BA against
  • P — Matt McGaha — Murray St. — 5-1, 3.36 ERA, 50 SO/11 BB, 61.2 IP, .272 BA against
  • RP — Neil Holland — UofL — 7-0, 15 saves, 2.08 ERA, 48 SO/14 BB, 47.2 IP, .158 BA against

Second Team

  • C — Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — .350/.412/.596, 11 HR, 57 RBI, 40 R
  • 1B — Andrew Clark — UofL — .385/.488/.708, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 45 R
  • 2B — Matt Payton — WKU — .363/.436/.597, 7 HR, 55 RBI, 62 R
  • 3B — Phil Wunderlich — UofL — .356/.440/.707, 19 HR, 55 RBI, 49 R
  • SS — Adam Duvall — UofL — .346/.408/.620, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 63 R
  • OF — Bryan Propst — Murray St. — .339/.403/.645, 13 HR, 45 RBI, 51 R
  • OF — Jared Andreoli — WKU — .338/.410/.481, 5 HR, 48 RBI, 60 R, 14 SB
  • OF — Gunner Glad — University of Kentucky — .336/.423/.565, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 49 R
  • DH — Anthony Ottrando — EKU — .353/.459/.721, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 47 R
  • SP — Shane Cameron — WKU — 4-2, 4.89 ERA, 74 SO/23 BB, 81 IP, .275 BA against
  • SP — Dean Kiekhefer — UofL — 3-3, 4.28 ERA, 38 SO/18 BB, 61 IP, .258 BA against
  • P — Brian Edelen — WKU — 4-1, 3.58 ERA, 28 SO/28 BB, 50.1 IP, .272 BA against
  • RP — Rye Davis — WKU — 3-4, 9 saves, 2.58 ERA, 60 SO/19 BB, 45.1 IP, .234 BA against

BluGrass Baseball Week 14 Awards

College Baseball

Awards from the final regular season week of the Kentucky college baseball season:

Player of the week: SS Adam Duvall (UofL)

  • Stats: 7-18 (.389), 2 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 3 2Bs, 1 3B, 1 SB
  • Honorable Mention: Brian Adams (UK), Logan Robbins (WKU), Ryan Huck (WKU), Bryan Propst (Murray St.), Joey Stevens (EKU), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead St.)

Pitcher of the week: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)

  • Stats: 1-0, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Thomas Royse (UofL), Joe Devine (UK), Shane Cameron (WKU), Matt Ridings (WKU), Matt McGaha (Murray St.), Paul Duncan (EKU), Eric Sanders (EKU), Michael Bottoms (Morehead St.)

Freshman of the week: OF Brian Adams (UK)

  • Stats: 8-14 (.571), 1 HR, 1 3B, 1 2B, 3 R, 6 RBI
  • Honorable Mention: Justin Amlung (UofL), Cade Stallings (UofL), Ryan Huck (WKU), Taylor Haydel (WKU), Anthony Bazzani (EKU)