With the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference baseball tournament beginning this week, 2015 Bayfield High School graduate Matthew Knickerbocker will suit up for the postseason having upped his game at just the right time.
Currently a fourth-year junior at Missouri Science & Technology in Rolla, Missouri, Knickerbocker’s 6-for-8 onslaught in a three-game sweep of Rockhurst University of Kansas City, Missouri, not only helped the Miners end the regular season on a high note, but also helped the team secure a three-way split of the conference’s regular-season championship.
As S&T trounced the Hawks last Friday and Saturday by scores of 12-4, 9-0 and 13-5, the former Wolverine racked up nine runs batted in and scored five runs himself. Those numbers led him to his first-ever GLVC Player of the Week Award, an honor announced Tuesday.
Miner sports information director John Kean reported Knickerbocker’s achievement – the fourth this spring for a Miner – is the first such for a S&T position player since late 2017. Knickerbocker copped the GLVC Freshman of the Year Award that spring, playing nearly error-free ball at second base and batting .314.
On a tear offensively while owning a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 88 total chances entering postseason play, Knickerbocker hit .470 (8-of-17) during his last five outings, bumping his 2019 mark up to .327, which is tied for second-best among Miner regulars.
Seeded third in the eight-team, double-elimination GLVC Tournament and having won 11 of 13 ending the regular season, Missouri S&T (30-15 overall, 22-11 GLVC) was to begin work inside U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark, Missouri, against six-seed University of Southern Indiana (29-19) Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m.
The Miners took two of three from the Screaming Eagles of Evansville, Indiana, in regular-season action, with Knickerbocker a combined 5-for-11 (.454) at the plate with four runs and an RBI.
Results were unavailable at press time, with the winner advancing to battle either No. 2 Maryville (St. Louis) University or No. 7 Bellarmine (Louisville, Kentucky) University on Friday at 3 p.m.
The S&T-USI loser was to play again at 8 a.m. Friday with their season hanging in the balance. The tournament finale is slated for Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. mountain time.
SHARE, SHARE, SHARE ALIKE: Having posted a 22-11 mark in GLVC play, S&T shared the loop’s regular-season championship with Maryville (27-20, 22-11) and Quincy University (30-16, 22-11), with the Hawks of Quincy, Illinois, earning the tournament’s No. 1 seed via tiebreaker.
Fourth-seeded University of Illinois-Springfield and No. 5 Drury (Springfield, Missouri) University matched USI’s 21-12 conference performance, while BU went 20-13. Sprinkle and UIndy ended up tying Lewis (Romeoville, Illinois) University at 19-14, but the Flyers snatched the final tourney berth via a 2-1 head-to-head record.
Miner master Todd DeGraffenreid earned his second GLVC Coach of the Year Award in four seasons, while senior pitcher Dalton Erger and redshirt-junior pitcher Stuart Martin were both named First Team All-Conference from S&T, and senior first baseman/pitcher Conner Forsythe Second Team.