Mavericks Begin NCAA Tourney at #2 Central Missouri – Minnesota State University

MANKATO, Minn. – The Minnesota State baseball team has qualified for the NCAA tournament for the 42nd time in program history. 
The Mavericks, owners of a 37-18 record, have now qualified for the last five NCAA tournaments. Minnesota State is 82-85 all-time in 41 trips to the postseason, including 8 trips to the NCAA Championships (1971, 1979, 1980, 1986, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014). 
The Mavericks open against No.2 nationally ranked Central Missouri on Thursday at 2 p.m. and they are joined in the sub-region by Augustana and Central Oklahoma. Fans can watch via the MIAA Network.
Missouri Southern hosts Harding in Joplin, Mo. As well as Arkansas Tech and Arkansas Monticello.
Minnesota State finished second in both the NSIC regular season and postseason, with Augustana taking the top spot. Last season, the Mavericks won three of four games in the NCAA Regional Tournament at Warren Turner Field in Joplin and advanced the NCAA Super Regional in Sioux Falls, where they dropped two of three games at Augustana at the end of May.
Having qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 15 of the last 16 seasons, Magers has five NCAA Championship appearances, including a National Runner-Up squad in 2013. This year’s team posted impressive offensive numbers and received notable performances on the mound in the NSIC Tournament.
Shortstop Aidan Byrne was named All-NSIC Second Team, All-NSIC Defensive Team and NSIC Outstanding Senior of the Year. Senior Ryan Wickman and sophomore Louis Magers earned All-NSIC First Team honors, while junior Zach Stroh was named to the All-NSIC Second Team.

  • The Mavericks defeated University of Mary 5-1 and Southwest Minnesota State 15-2 at the NSIC Tournament, before falling to No. 9 Augustana 10-7.
  • Ryan Friedges hit a grand slam in the comeback effort. The team bounced back against Wayne State College 7-1 with an eighth inning rally and a Byrne grand slam, but dropped an 8-3 decision to Augustana in the Championship game on May 11 in Mandan, North Dakota.
  • Friedges led the Mavericks with three hits in as many at bats with one walk and one run batted in. Wickman scored a pair of runs.
  • Haugen finished with 5.0 innings pitched and allowed three earned runs on four hits, struck out seven and walked zero.
  • Mariano Gomez (6-0) collected the win for Augustana after working 6.0 innings and surrendering three earned runs on five hits, walked two and struck out four. The Mavericks finished the season with a 2-3 record against the Vikings.



  • An outfielder from Spring Green, Wisconsin, Ryan Wickman has played and started in 53 games.
  • The centerfielder is hitting .353 with a 1.114 OPS, 17 doubles (team-high), and 14 home runs.
  • Wickman began his career at Valparaiso, then went to Central Community College and finally, the Mavericks.
  • He hit .322 last season with seven doubles and 10 home runs.
  • In his first season at MSU, he started 48 games and hit .367.
  • Wickman is an excellent outfielder and holds a .962 fielding percentage with four errors. His 23 stolen bases in 24 attempts is a team-high. 


  • Byrne (Eagan, Minnesota) leads off for the Mavericks and starts at shortstop.
  • With a team-best .396 batting average, Byrne is one of just two players to start all 55 games.
  • He also is second in doubles (16), first in triples (3), fourth in home runs (7) and fourth in runs batted in (52). Byrne is also an excellent baserunner, with 21 stolen bases in 22 tries.
  • In the infield, he holds a .970 fielding percentage with 134 putouts and seven errors, helping turn 19 double plays.
  • Byrne was voted by the conference coaches as NSIC Outstanding Senior of the Year. He holds a 3.92 grade point average majoring in Management. 


  • Along with Byrne, sophomore Louis Magers has started every game for the Mavericks.
  • His versatility has been apparent with 10 starts on the mound, along with 17 appearances at first base, and 45 as the designated hitter.
  • Batting in the clean-up role, Magers hit .293 with eight doubles, three triples and a team-high 15 home runs (T-44th in Division II).
  • He is also leading the team in runs batted in (60). As a starting pitcher, Magers holds a 3-2 record and 4.32 earned run average. He has 31 strikeouts and 23 walks this spring. 


  • Redshirt junior Mitch Gutknecht (Stillwater, Minnesota) struck out 14 and notched his first career complete game to help No. 2 seed Minnesota State over No. 7 seed UMary 5-1 last Wednesday evening at BNC Field.
  • Gutknecht limited the Marauders to four hits, walked one and threw 115 pitches in the first game of the NSIC Tournament.
  • The outing vaulted Gutknecht into the team lead in earned run average (3.66).
  • He holds a 4-3 record with 17 appearances and five starts.
  • The left-hander has 67 strikeouts, including 25 in his last two starts. 


  • At tournament time, redshirt senior Ryan Friedges (Jordan, Minnesota) delivered in the big moments.
  • He finished with three home runs, three doubles and 11 RBI in Mandan, including a four-hit afternoon in a 15-2 victory over Southwest Minnesota State.
  • Friedges is hitting .318 this season with 14 doubles (second) and eight home runs (third) with 48 driven in (fifth).
  • It was a breakout season for the third baseman, after he hit .175 in 2023 in 57 at bats.


  • The best pitching staffs have been able to limit the Mavericks at times this season, but hits seem to feed more hits and the Mavericks combine for power and patience up and down the lineup.
  • The Mavericks rank 35th in Division II in batting average (.322) and draw the eighth most walks (302). MSU is also 20th in home runs (74) and 14th in on base percentage (.441). 

RHP – Spencer Wright (RS-Jr., Winona, Minn., 6-2, 210) 5-3, 15 app. 10 gs, 3.96 ERA, 61.1 IP, 29 BB, 59 K
RHP – Louis Magers (So., Mankato, Minn., 6-5, 225) 3-2, 10 app. 10 gs, 4.32 ERA, 41.2 IP, 23 BB, 31 K
RHP – Cale Haugen (Fr., Esko, Minn., 6-0, 190) 6-2, 15 app. 9 gs, 6.26 ERA, 46.0 IP, 20 BB, 47 K
RHP – Mack Crowley (RS-Fr., Green Bay, Wis., 6-3, 190) 2-1, 12 app. 7 gs, 5.45 ERA, 33.0 IP, 10 BB, 29 K
LHP – Mitch Gutknecht (RS-Jr., Stillwater, Minn., 6-2, 190) 4-3, 17 app. 5 gs, 3.66 ERA, 59.0 IP, 18 BB, 67 K, 1 CG
LHP – Sam George (Fr., Bettendorf, Iowa., 6-4, 195) 2-1, 13 app. 5 gs, 4.50 ERA, 34.0 IP, 15 BB, 37 K

  • Kyle Crookes is in his 10th season as head coach at Central Missouri and 12th year overall after serving two years as the team’s top assistant. Over his tenure, the Mules have won five NCAA Central Region crowns and appeared in the 2021 NCAA Division II College World Series, where they finished runner-up.
  • Last season, in 2023, the Mules compiled an overall mark of 43-15 and went 27-6 in the MIAA. UCM captured both the MIAA Regular Season and Postseason Tournament Titles and hosted the NCAA-II Central Regional. Central Missouri advanced to the regional title game before dropping an 8-6 decision to Augustana (S.D.). Crookes earned both NCBWA Central Region and MIAA Coach of the Year honors.
  • This year the team hosts the NCAA Regional again, and the team is 26-2 at Crane Stadium. All nine hitters in the Mules’ starting lineup are hitting better than .339.  Chase Heath leads the group at .389 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs and 51 runs batted in.
  • Six players have ten or more home runs, including Brennen Van Breusegen with 19.
  • The Mules rank first in Division II batting average (.357), first in fielding percentage (.981), first in home runs (115), first in triples (34), second in scoring (10.8 runs per game), third in walks (321), third in stolen bases (55), eighth in double plays (47) and ninth in doubles (129).
  •  Central Missouri State fell to Washburn and Missouri Southern in the MIAA Tournament for second place.
  • They received an at-large bid to the NCAA Central Region Tournament. 


  • The Mavericks are 4-14 all-time against Central Missouri, 2-8 over their last ten matchups, and 1-7 on the road.
  • The last meeting came on May 20, 2022 in an NCAA Central Region elimination game, won by the Mules 9-6 in Warrensburg, Missouri.
  • Current Mavericks in the lineup that day included Wickman and Byrne.
  • Wickman finished 2-for-5 at the plate and Byrne went 0-2 with two runs batted in.


  • Single day tickets are available for the tournament at the Central Missouri Ticket Office.
  • Crane Stadium at Robert R. Thompkins Field was completed in spring of 1998.
  • A $1.2 million construction project, funded primarily by Crane, added a locker room and coaches’ offices for the Mules, an umpires dressing room, new dugouts, permanent seats, a concession stand, a press box and lights to the already existing playing field.
  • In the fall of 2021, the $2.1 million Crane Stadium Expansion Project was completed with a lead gift from Crane and a significant contribution from the Sunderland Foundation.
  • The project was headlined by the addition of a 44-locker clubhouse that was designed to mirror a major league clubhouse.

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