With a nine-game winning streak, a video highlight (of second baseman Jacob Hamerle making a sliding catch into a wall) that has gone “national” and a ton of confidence on the diamond, the start of the 2016 baseball season could not be going any better for the Newman Jets.
After sweeping visiting Southwest Minnesota State Feb. 27-28 in a four-game series Newman is 10-2 and off to its best start ever in the NCAA DII era. The current win streak is also a program best for DII.
“We have just been playing with a lot of confidence. Day in and day out confidence and energy has been really good. If you come out every day like that you’re giving yourself a chance to win,” Newman Head Baseball Coach Zane Ehling said.
The sixth year coach said coming out on top of some close games early in the season has helped build his team’s confidence. The Jets beat Wayne State twice by one run and twice by two runs in a home series Feb. 20-21.
“That’s what makes you a better team is those close games,” Ehling said. “It’s tough to tell (how good we can be) this early, but the way we’ve competed against some good competition so far, we just want to keep competing and keep getting better every day and hopefully good things are going to happen.”
Each day junior starting pitcher Lucas Schauer is on the mound good things happen for the Jets. He is 3-0 in three complete game starts this season. Schauer threw a complete game one-hit shutout against SW Minnesota in the series opener. His ERA is an impressive 0.78 and in 23 innings pitched he has struck out 22 batters while walking just seven.
“It’s kind of crazy. I like to work on all my pitches and for the most part this year most of my pitches have been working in my outings, so I’m fortunate and happy for that. I just try to stay efficient and try to go as long as I can,“ Schauer said.
The Jets’ ace is not the only star shining early in the 2016 campaign. The Newman hitters have been hot. Against SW Minnesota State the Jets outscored the Mustangs 45-5.
At the plate Newman is led by junior outfielder Tyler Bugner who is hitting .561 average with 16 runs scored and 10 RBI. He has also stolen nine bases on nine attempts. Senior third baseman Garett Thomas is averaging .341 at the plate with three home runs and 13 RBI. Sophomore catcher Aaron Mack is batting .386 with three homers, 11 runs scored and 13 RBI.
“We’ve had a great start. We’re pretty excited about the team,” Schauer said. “We’re all hoping to do well in conference, make the conference tournament and make a little run and scare some people.”
Newman plays a nonleague game today (March 1) at Emporia State.
To see the Jacob Hamerle’s catch from Newman’s game at Washburn check out the Newman University Facebook page. To watch highlights from the Feb. 27 SW Minnesota State game and interviews click on the video below.