Outlook: The eighth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team (35-8), fresh off of the program's North Coast Athletic Conference-leading 17th championship, earned the top seed in the Mideast Regional and will head to Washington, Pa. to play in this week's (May 18-22) eight-team double-elimination tournament, with play set to begin on Thursday, May 18. Wooster will play in Thursday's second game, with first pitch set for approximately 1:15 p.m. EDT, and the Fighting Scots will square off former conference peer Earlham College (29-12), champion of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
The regional also features second-seeded and No. 4 State University of New York at Cortland (33-7), third-seeded and No. 12 La Roche College (34-8), host and No. 16 Washington and Jefferson College (34-10), fifth-seeded Misericordia University (30-12), sixth-seeded Keystone College (31-13), and seventh-seeded DePauw University (31-11). Of note, Cortland has made three straight appearances in the Div. III College World Series, while Keystone was the 2016 Div. III runner-up.
There are eight regionals taking place across the country (four with six teams and four with eight for a total of 56 teams), and each champion will qualify for the double-elimination championship at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton, Wis., May 26-31.
Regional Site: All games at the 2017 Div. III Mideast Regional will be played at Ross Memorial Park, a field that features artificial turf except for the pitching mound and home plate area. Those traveling to the regional and using a GPS should use 2 Washington Federal Way, Washington, Pa. 15301 as the address.
Ticket Info: Fans can purchase an all-tournament pass for $20, or buy single-day tickets for $6 per day for adults, and $3 per day for students and children. Children 6-years-old and younger are admitted free of charge. There is a $5 per car charge to park at Ross Memorial Park, and that price is mandated by the minor league baseball team whose stadium is adjacent to Ross Memorial Park, and owns the parking lots.
Media Coverage: Washington & Jefferson is teaming up with the Presidents' Athletic Conference Sports Network to provide a video stream of all contests that can be accessed at http://gopresidents.com/watch. Additionally, the Wooster office of athletic communication will have a Wooster-based audio feed of all Wooster contests at http://portal.stretchinternet.com/wooster. Live stats are available for all games at http://sidearmstats.com/washjeff/baseball. Fans can also get in-game score and note updates on the Wooster baseball team's Twitter account @WoosterBaseball.
NCAA Championships History: Wooster, making its 29th Div. III tourney appearance, owns a 61-60 all-time record (.504) in regional and national tournament games. The Scots only trail Eastern Connecticut State (34), Ithaca College (36), and Marietta College (37) in total NCAA appearances.
2017 NCAC Tournament Recap: Wooster cruised to its NCAC-record 17th conference championship last week as the Scots hit .466 over the three games while recording 53 runs, including 25 in the championship-game win over DePauw. In its NCAC Tournament opener, won 10-2 by Wooster over Denison University, the Scots turned five double plays, and each one was turned a different way. Notable, Wooster became the eighth team in Div. III with five twin killers in a game this year. Then, in the winner's bracket game won 18-3 by Wooster over DePauw, the Scots mashed four home runs. Sophomore Garrett Crum (Alliance, Ohio/Canton South) had a pair of two-run shots before senior Jamie Lackner (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake) clubbed a grand slam, and sophomore Jacob Stuursma (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) capped things off with a three-run shot. In the championship game, junior Jake Fling (Norton, Ohio/Norton) went 6-for-6 at the plate, becoming the fifth Scot in program history to record a six-hit game. The NCAC Tournament MVP knocked a pair of three-run homers out of the park as part of his big day.
2016 Regional Rewind: Wooster went 3-2 at last year's Mideast Regional, also hosted by Washington & Jefferson. Wooster opened play with an 8-5 win over Johns Hopkins University before falling 2-1 to Randolph-Macon College. Then, Wooster went on a run in the elimination bracket, and knocked out Widener University (16-9) and The College of New Jersey (5-3) before bowing out to La Roche (13-0).
Head Coach Tim Pettorini: Wooster is home to the active leader in NCAA Div. III coaching wins – the one and only Tim Pettorini, who owns a 1,172-434-6 record (.729) in 36 seasons, all with the Scots. Pettorini's guided the team to 24 NCAA regional appearances, and 17 NCAC championships. Pettorini, who became the seventh Div. III coach to reach 1,000 wins on May 4, 2012, is a 13-time NCAC Coach of the Year.
Old Friends: Wooster and Earlham used to be conference rivals back in the day, and ironically, the first of Pettorini's 1,172 wins came against Earlham back on March 18, 1982, a game won by Wooster 7-2. Overall, Wooster holds a 27-1 lead in the all-time series with Earlham, and the two teams last met in a 1999 twin bill won by the Scots 16-1 and 9-1.
Wooster vs. the Field: Outside of Earlham, Wooster's had 31 all-time meetings with teams at the 2017 Mideast Regional. Wooster's 3-1 against Cortland, 0-1 versus La Roche, 6-6 against Washington & Jefferson, has never played Misericordia, is 1-0 versus Keystone, and is 9-4 after last week's two wins over DePauw.
Talking Seeds: This marks the sixth-time Wooster's earned the No. 1 seed for the regional since the NCAA began publishing seeds in 1996. Wooster was previously the No. 1 seed in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007. In its most recent appearance as the top seed, Wooster went 1-2. The Scots opened play with a loss to Hope College 5-3, rebounded with a win over Otterbein University 3-2, and were knocked out by Marietta 6-3.
Sweep, Sweep: Wooster earned the NCAC's top two honors as the Scots swept the conference's Player- and Pitcher-of-the-Year awards for the seventh time, and first since 2013. Lackner and classmate Michael Houdek (Cleveland Hts., Ohio/Cleveland Hts.) earned the respective honors for the first times of their careers, and are both now three-time first-team all-conference honorees. Pettorini was selected by his peers as NCAC Coach-of-the-Year for the 13th time. Joining Houdek and Lackner on the first-team all-conference squad were junior Nanak Saran (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) and sophomore Michael Wielansky (St. Louis, Mo./Ladue Horton Watkins). Three more Scots earned all-conference certificates as Crum, sophomore Chandler Dippman (Waterville, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit), and Fling all were named to the second-team, with Fling's certificate marking the third of the junior's career.
Fling Chasing History at the College: Believe it or not, nobody in the history of Wooster baseball has recorded their 200th career hit before the end of their junior year, and Fling has a chance to be the first as he enters play this week with 198 career hits. W Association Hall of Famer Rick Sforzo had 199 hits at the end of his junior year, three above fellow W Association Hall of Famers Matt Miller and Jake Frank, who occupy the top two spots on the career chart at 277 and 265. Should Fling get 200 hits, it would mark the third time Wooster's had a pair of players on the roster with 200 hits at the same time. Lackner recorded his 200th career hit during the Kenyon College series, and he's two away from moving into ninth on the program's career list in that stat. Previously, Frank and former Div. III National Player-of-the-Year Luke Ullman both had over 200 career hits in 2005, as did Travis Snyder and W Association Hall of Famer Trevor Urban on the 1999 ballclub.
The 60-60 Men: Wielansky, Wooster's shortstop, touched home for the 60th time this season during a 10-0 win over Ohio Wesleyan University back on May 6 making the sophomore the second player in Wooster's tradition-rich program history to have 60 runs in back-to-back seasons. Urban is the only other player to accomplish this, and he scored 79 runs during Wooster's 1997 run to the Div. III National Championships, and followed that up with 74 runs in 1998. Meanwhile, Lackner enters the regional with 58 RBI on the season, and should he get to 60, he would join Urban as the only players in program history with a pair of 60-RBI seasons during their careers at the College. While Lackner's wasn't back-to-back, he had 67 in 2015. Urban knocked in 60 in 1997, 61 in 1998, and 65 in 1999.
More Exclusivity: Lackner joined an exclusive club at the College when he scored his 150th career run during Wooster's 19-3 win over Denison on April 19 as he joined Frank and Sforzo as the only players in program history with at least 200 hits, 150 runs, 150 RBI, and 100 walks.
Lackner on the Prowl: Lackner, one of the premier hitters in all of Div. III, moved into third on Wooster's career RBI list during the NCAC Tournament, and in fact, he's the active leader in Div. III with 193. With five more RBI, he'll move into a tie with Sforzo for the second-most in program history, with Frank still comfortably ahead at the top of that chart at 224. Lackner's going to finish his career second in program history in walks, and he enters the regional with 117, 41 behind the top spot in program history. Wooster's first baseman is currently 10th in career hits (224), 11th in runs (165) and home runs (34), and 14th in doubles (42) in program history.
Run-Scoring Machines: Wielansky's 67 runs this season are tied for the most in Div. III, and that's seventh on the single-season list at Wooster. Wielansky needs two more runs to move in Wooster's single-season top five, and Urban currently occupies the top spot at 79. Fling on the other hand, is in Wooster's top 10 in career runs now at 168, and will move into ninth the next time he touches home.
Three-Bagging Around the Diamond: Wooster currently has four student-athletes with double-digit career triples in Fling and Wielansky with 11, and senior Ryan Ostendorf (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West) and junior Drew Tornow (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) with 10. All four are within striking distance of Frank for the career lead, as the former All-American had 13 for his career.
Slick Fielding: Wooster again is one of the national leaders in fielding percentage in Div. III with the Scots' .978 clip ranking third as of May 14. In fact, Wooster's played in seven more games (43) than it has errors (36) on the season. Wooster's sophomore middle infield duo Stuursma and Wielansky play a big role in that as the duo have six errors in 388 chances (.985). Last week Thursday, Wooster's defense turned five double plays, making the Scots the eighth team to do so in Div. III this year. Even more impressively, the five twin killers were turned in five different ways as the Scots had a 6-3, a 4-6-3, a 5-3, a 5-4-3, and a game-ending 1-6-3 double play. Noteworthy, Wooster's now twisted a game-ending double play three times this season.
Pest Control: Speaking of Ostendorf, the Scots' catcher has thrown out nearly 50-percent of would-be base stealers, as he's thrown out 12 on the year, while only allowing 13 stolen bases. Over the last two seasons, Ostendorf's thrown out 32-of-66 would-be base stealers.
25-Win Club: Houdek picked up his 25th career win during Wooster's 10-5 triumph over Case Western Reserve University on April 25, with the win making the lefty the 13th 25-game winner in program history. Coincidentally, Houdek's 25th win came against a team coached by another Wooster 25-game winner in W Association Hall of Famer Matt Englander, who won 32 games between 1999 and 2002. In his next start, Houdek picked up his 26th career win during an 11-1 victory over Hiram College, and that win moved Houdek into the top 10 in program history. Currently at 27 career wins, Houdek will moved into Wooster's top five should he pick up two more in the postseason, while his next start will move the lanky left-hander into the College's top 10 in that stat.
Blackjack: Wooster's top three starters - Houdek, Saran, and senior Tyler Schuch (Wooster, Ohio/Triway) - are a combined 21-2 on the season. The trio have started 31 of Wooster's 43 games and have a collective 3.47 ERA in 191 2/3 innings of work. Of note, the entire trio have ERAs below 3.80 and have a combined 138 strikeouts.
Hello Top 10: Senior Michael Whitaker (Alliance, Ohio/Alliance), who set both the NCAC and Wooster's all-time records for appearances at last year's Mideast Regional, recently moved into the top 10 in Div. III career relief appearances, and Whitaker's currently tied for seventh at 92. Additionally, the right-hander is the active leader in Div. III for the most relief appearances, and he's one ahead of Emory University's Kyle Monk.
Stranded: Junior James Usher (New York, N.Y./Trinity School) has been Wooster's go-to guy in a jam out of the bullpen. On the season, Usher's logged a team-high 24 appearances, a total tied for fourth in program history, and the fifth-most in Div. III. In those 24 outings, Usher's 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings of work. Of note, Usher's inherited 28 runners on the year, and only five have come in to score.
National Recognition: Fling and Saran both earned honorable mention recognition from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association this season. Fling was the organization's honorable mention hitter for games played April 17-23, and he went .522 (12-for-23) during a 5-0 week for Wooster that included a doubleheader sweep over Kenyon, a 19-3 win over regionally-ranked Denison, an 8-5 win over regional rival Marietta, and a 4-3 win at John Carroll University. Fling knocked in 12 runs during that span, including two on a go-ahead ninth-inning single against the Blue Streaks. Saran earned the honor for games May 1-8, and he didn't allow a run in 14 innings of work, and that included an eight-inning complete-game, three-hit shutout against Ohio Wesleyan in the NCAC crossover series.
Academic Honors: Houdek and Wielansky both earned CoSIDA Academic All-District® first-team honors for the three-state (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio) district and are now up for consideration on the CoSIDA Academic All-America® ballot, with those voting results expected to be released on May 31. Houdek, who graduated on Monday with a 3.46 grade-point average as a political science major, was one of two pitchers selected in the region. Wielansky, a business economics major with a 3.30 grade-point average was one of four infielders tabbed to the team.