College Sports

Mizzou’s Tanner Houck leads strong season for some area college baseball players

University of Missouri sophomore right-hander and Collinsville High graduate Tanner Houck is widely considered a potential high first-round pick in the 2017 Major League Draft.
University of Missouri sophomore right-hander and Collinsville High graduate Tanner Houck is widely considered a potential high first-round pick in the 2017 Major League Draft.

Another strong season at Missouri has sophomore right-hander and Collinsville High graduate Tanner Houck blazing his way up the charts as a potential high draft pick in 2017.

Houck is widely considered a potential high first-round pick next season with a fastball in the mid-90 mph range and the ability to throw his slider and change-up for strikes. Perfect Game USA and Baseball America both selected Houck as the top collegiate prospect in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft.

Houck was 5-6 with a 2.99 earned-run average in 15 games for the Tigers this spring. He struck out 106 in 105 1/3 innings with three complete games.

Houck, who also pitches for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, was a two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Week and also was chosen as Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week once.

The hard-throwing 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out 14 in nine innings of work against Vanderbilt in an eventual 2-0, 11-inning defeat.

▪  Belleville West graduate Aaron Meyer, a junior infielder, was the third-leading hitter for Missouri State this spring and his strong play down the stretch helped him earn a spot on the Missouri Valley Conference’s All-Tournament Team.

Meyer hit .315 in 59 games for the Bears with 17 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 32 RBIs and 35 runs scored.

Right behind Meyer on the Bears’ hitting list was junior outfielder and Edwardsville graduate Blake Graham. Graham hit .300 in 57 games with nine doubles, four triples, five home runs, 37 RBIs and 41 runs scored.

Freshman Jordan Hovey (Edwardsville) hit .250 in 22 games with a double, triple, home run and four RBIs.

▪  Mascoutah High graduate Ryan Netemeyer’s 12 saves at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this spring were the most by a Salukis pitcher since former major leaguer Al Levine had 13 in 1990. Netemeyer , 0-1 in 25 appearances, finished with a 1.95 ERA in 32 1/3 innings and struck out 25, earning second-team All-MVC honors.

The sophomore right-hander was also an honorable mention selection’s on the MVC’s Academic All-Conference Team.

▪  Former Belleville West and Southwestern Illinois College standout Adam Bauer put together a monster season as a junior at Murray State, reaching base safely in his first 50 games this spring to set a school record. When the streak ended it was the longest in the country.

The 6-foot-4 junior outfielder was a second-team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection and was second in the nation with 67 runs scored and a school-record nine triples. Bauer hit .341 with 75 hits, including eight doubles, five home runs and 40 RBIs.

▪  Former Highland standout Joe Duncan was the top hitter for Eastern Illinois this spring, compiling a .332 average in 51 games with 16 doubles, two triples, 22 RBIs and a team-leading 38 runs scored. The sophomore outfielder’s 74 hits and 18 stolen bases were also team highs.

▪  Arkansas sophomore Chad Spanberger (Granite City) hit .225 in 33 games for the Razorbacks with four doubles, six home runs and 17 RBIs.

▪  Former Mater Dei pitcher Zach Haake, a freshman at Arkansas State, picked up his first collegiate win over nationally ranked Ole Miss. Haake (2-0, 6.57 ERA) started two games and made 11 appearances.

▪  Lindenwood-St. Charles sophomore center fielder Wes Degener (Gibault) led the Lions in hitting with a .385 average in 50 games. He also had a team-leading 62 runs scored and hit 13 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and drove in 26. Degener stole 16 bases in 17 attempts.

Lindenwood junior right-hander Geoff Hartlieb (Highland) was a 29th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in last week’s baseball draft. The 6-6 junior also was drafted in the 37th round in 2015 by the New York Mets after beginning his college career as a basketball player at Quincy.

▪  Waterloo High graduate Ethan Ruff, a junior center fielder at Lindenwood University-Belleville, was a second-team selection on the American Midwest Conference’s all-conference team.

Ruff hit .362 with a school-record 76 hits. He also had 11 doubles, 26 RBIs, 28 stolen bases and 36 runs scored and at one point this season had a 14-game hitting streak. Ruff’s defensive prowess helped him be named to the 2016 ABCA/Rawlings NAIA Baseball Gold Glove Team. He also was on the AMC’s Gold Glove Team.

LU-Belleville senior left-hander Michael Sabatino (Wood River) earned his second straight Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honor. Nominees must have a minimum 3.5 grade-point average (4.0 scale) and he was one of 350 players in the country to receive the award.

Sabatino was the Lynx’s top pitcherm going 4-8 with a 3.83 ERA and team-leading 84 2/3 innings. He won 22 games in 41 starts iover four seasons at Lindenwood, stirking out 157 in 273 innings in 53 appearances. All those totals are school records.

▪  Former Freeburg High right-hander Nick Yung was among McKendree’s top pitchers this season, compiling a 4-4 record and 5.59 ERA in 12 appearances. The junior right-hander struck out 43 in 56 1/3 innings.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders