Broncos Gear Up For Home Debut

The Western Michigan University baseball team (7-8) concludes its week-long road trip when it visits the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., Wednesday (April 3) at 2 p.m. The game represents WMU's final non-conference matchup before the start of its 2002 Mid-American Conference season.

The Friendly Confines of Hyames Field
The Broncos play their first home and MAC game of the season against the Miami University Red Hawks Friday (April 5) at 2 p.m. at Hyames Field. The clubs will play a doubleheader Saturday (April 6) and a single contest Sunday (April 7). MU was predicted to finish second behind Kent State in the MAC's East Division in the preseason coaches' poll. WMU leads the all-time series 80-53 and won three of four at Miami last season. Western Michigan will play a total of 17 home games in 2002. Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Toledo will also visit Kalamazoo for conference action. Northwestern and Michigan State will play at Hyames Field as the lone non-conference foes on the home portion of the docket.

Weekend Rewind
In between dodging some raindrops that canceled their doubleheader Sunday, the Broncos managed to play two games at Tennessee Tech. Western Michigan routed the Eagles 15-1 Saturday in Cookeville, Tenn., but Tennessee Tech bounced back with a 7-5 comeback victory Monday (April 1). WMU lost 14-1 at Illinois Tuesday.

Seeing Doubles
Tim Frankhouse and Tom Fabrizio both slugged two doubles in Saturday's 15-1 rout of Tennessee Tech and hit one each against the Eagles Monday, helping give the Broncos a total of 39 two-baggers on the year. Frankhouse and Fabrizio have hit 11 and nine doubles, respectively, through the club's first 15 games. Both players are on course to establish Bronco records for doubles. During the 2001 season, Fabrizio belted a Western Michigan single season record 20 doubles and is already ahead of his record setting pace. Through 15 games last season, Fabrizio had just two doubles.

Sam I Am
Senior Sam Flamont is making sure to make the most of his two seasons at Western Michigan. Last year, in his first campaign as a Bronco, Flamont hit .375 with 12 homers and 45 RBI. He posted a .625 slugging percentage and a .441 on-base percentage. Flamont has picked up where he left off in 2002. He currently leads the team in triples (3), RBI (19) and slugging (.677) and is second runs scored (14), home runs (two), and on-base percentage (.455). He is third in hits (24). His move from left to right field has been very smooth, as he has not committing a single error. He had three errors in 143 chances last season.

WMU Tabbed Third in MAC West
The WMU Baseball Team was picked to finish third in the six-team MAC West Division in the 2002 Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Broncos received a total of 46 points, placing them behind division favorite Ball State (77) and rival Central Michigan (63). The poll listed Toledo fourth (31) followed by Northern Illinois (29) and Eastern Michigan (27). Kent State was the favorite in the East, receiving eight first-place votes for a total of 86 points. Miami and Bowling Green received three and two first-place votes, respectively, in the East. Miami totaled 75 points while BGSU earned 69. Ohio (55), Akron (33) and Marshall (33), and Buffalo (13) round out the rest of the voting in the East. Ball State picked up eight votes as the favorite to win the 2002 MAC Tournament. Miami (2), Kent State (1), and CMU (1) also received tournament votes.

Season Ends Early for Perez, Haveman
Injuries have ended the season for two Broncos prematurely. All-time WMU strikeout leader Keith Perez and reliever Bryan Haveman will be out for the entire 2002 season after both hurlers underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season. Perez was operated on in late summer while Haveman underwent the knife at the beginning of summer. A possible No. 1 starter for Western Michigan, Perez was 4-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 15 appearances last season. Haveman pitched in six games, making one start. He was 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA.

MLB Draft Calls on Three Broncos
Three members of the 2001 team were selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Senior outfielder John Toner was picked in the 23rd round by the New York Mets. Toner played in 38 games with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League, batting .258 with a home run and 16 RBI. The Houston Astros called shortstop Ryan Kochen's name in the 19th round. Kochen played with two Houston affiliates in his first professional season. He hit .300 with five homers and 23 RBI in 56 games with the Appalachian League's Martinsville Astros. In a four-game stint with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York Penn League, Kochen hit .412 and drove in five runs. Junior righthander Kody Naylor was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 10th round of the draft and signed late.

In the Dugout
WMU head coach Fred Decker (Western Michigan ‘64) is in his 27th season at the helm of the Broncos. During his time in Kalamazoo, Decker has compiled a 730-635-6 career coaching record. He notched career win No. 700 last season. The 1989 Mid-American Conference and Regional Coach of the Year, Decker has won more MAC games (366) than any other coach in conference history. Sixty-six of his former players have gone on to play Major League Baseball while 49 have been selected to the All-MAC First Team. Four of his players have earned Academic All-America honors. He has guided WMU to 17 winning seasons, including the 1989 MAC title and West Division pennants in 1982 and 1983. Former Bronco Ken Jones (WMU ‘95) played under Decker and is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach. A four-time letter winner and two-time All-MAC pick as a catcher, Jones played two seasons in the San Diego Padres system. Mike Diaz and Mike Hodgins are the newest additions to Decker's coaching staff.

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