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UNK baseball hosts conference tourney for first time in school history
Ryan Seefus
Antelope Staff
Courtesy Photo
Loschen takes the ball in the Lopers opening round game of the conference tournament. The senior from Kearney has a record of 2-0 in postseason play.

Kearney was chosen to host the 2010 RMAC baseball tournament to remedy recent RMAC scheduling problems. The old format gave home field advantage for the conference tournament to the team with the best RMAC record that year. This created problems for administrators around the conference in 2008 when a clear RMAC leader did not emerge until the last weekend of the season.

Although head baseball coach Damon Day is unsure whether there is a competitive advantage in hosting the tournament, the city of Kearney will happily accept the increase in revenue over the four-day period. Kearney was chosen as a host site in part because the city has hotel space and dining to support an event of this size and length.

The facilities that the UNK baseball program and the city call their own also played a role in securing home field advantage for the upcoming conference tournament. The sunken down Memorial field is one of the better baseball facilities you can find in the area.

The home field bid rallied the city of Kearney behind the baseball team and allowed the community to show their support for the program. Through private donations, city funds and help from the American Legion, half a million dollars worth of improvements on Memorial Field were made possible. “The amount of support for the baseball program has been immeasurable,” Day said.

The Lopers hope the community continues to show its support for the remainder of the regular season and throughout the conference tournament. A strong home crowd during the tournament could be the slight edge that leads the Lopers to a third conference championship in four years. “I expect a huge turnout because the town of Kearney has supported tournaments in the past, and I believe they will be out in force to support us,” Day said.

Along with familiar faces in the stands, the baseball program is happy to see a change in scenery for this year’s conference tournament. Because this year is the first time UNK has hosted the tournament, it has normally been held in the light Colorado air where batted balls never come down and pitched balls stay straight.

The coaching staff thinks playing closer to sea level and in one of the bigger parks in the conference could benefit their style of play. “Our defense has been much better than our opponents at home,” Day said. Additionally, the Loper pitching staff has compiled a league-best 4.79 earned run average this season. Combine good defense and efficient pitching, and you have a recipe for success that works in any ballpark.

The 2010 RMAC baseball tournament will be held at Memorial Field in Kearney May 5 through May 8. The Lopers will play their first game of the tournament on Wednesday, May 5, at 7 p.m.

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