Outlook: For the sixth time in program history, and first since 2009, the fourth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team (40-8) is heading to the NCAA Div. III Championships, with action slated to start on Friday, May 25 at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. Wooster, seeded second in pool two, opens play against Texas Lutheran University (38-9), with Friday's game time set for approximately 8:45 p.m. ET/7:45 p.m. CT. Concordia University Chicago (38-13) and Swarthmore College (37-9) meet in Friday's other pool two game at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. CT. Randolph-Macon College (35-7-1) opens the day against Misericordia University (36-13) at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT, while the State University of New York at Oswego (30-12) squares off with the University of Texas at Tyler (35-17) at 2:15 p.m. ET/1:15 p.m. CT.
Format: The eight teams at the national championships are seeded in two four-team double-elimination pools and will only play teams in their pool until each pool has a champion. The two pool champions meet in a best-of-three-game series with the winner of the series taking home the national championship trophy. The three-game series could start on either Monday or Tuesday depending on if either or both pools need the if-necessary game or not.
Championships Site: Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. is the site of this year's Div. III championships, but it'll be a curtain call for the 19-year host as the 2019 championships move to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Fox Cities Stadium was built in 1995 and has a capacity of 5,900. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers is the primary tenant of the facility.
Stay Informed: Wooster's athletic Twitter account @WoosterSports and the baseball team's Twitter account @WoosterBaseball are your recommended first stops for any and all important announcements regarding the Scots during this week's championships. These include updates to approximate game times, live stat and video links (when available), score updates, milestones, and news. Should you not have a Twitter account, you can view the Twitter feed by visiting http://twitter.com/woostersports and http://twitter.com/woosterbaseball. The College's athletic website (http://woosterathletics.com) will also have complete coverage on the Scots throughout the championships, and fans can also visit the host site at http://www.uwoshkoshtitans.com/NCAABaseballChampionship/Index.
Ticket Info: All-session passes are $33 for adults and $20 for students and senior citizens. Daily passes (May 25-27) are $11 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. Daily passes (May 28-29) are $7 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens.
Friday's Alumni & Parent Engagement Gathering Information: Alumni, parents, and friends of the College are invited to join The Office of Alumni & Parent Engagement for a pre-game gathering on Friday at Fox Cities Stadium starting at 6:15 p.m. CT. The Office of Alumni & Parent Engagement has reserved the Fox Club on the second floor of the stadium. Food and drinks will be provided, but you must purchase a game ticket to access the Fox Club.
Thursday's Pre-Championship Barbeque Information: Parents, families, and friends of the program are encouraged to attend the pre-championship barbeque on Thursday evening starting at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets to the barbeque are $15 each, and must be purchased by noon CT on Wednesday by calling the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Ticket Office at 920-733-4152. Tickets will be left at the stadium's Fan Assistance Center.
Thursday's Pre-Championship Ceremony & Unveiling of ABCA/Rawlings All-America Team: The opening ceremony for the 2018 NCAA Div. III Baseball Championships starts at 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, May 24, and is free and open to the public. The program includes the introduction of the eight competing teams, presentation of the NCAA's Elite 90 Award, team videos, and the announcement of the ABCA All-America Team. Lawrence University will live stream Thursday's opening ceremony at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/lawrence/.
Media Coverage: Live video and live stats will be available for all contests, links to which can be access on Wooster's baseball schedule page and on the team's Twitter account @WoosterBaseball. Links will be tweeted out from the team's account 20 minutes prior to the actual game time. Please note links will likely not be available until the morning of on the team's schedule page on woosterathletics.com.
NCAA Div. III Championships History - Part I: Wooster made its 30th Div. III tourney appearance this year and now owns a 66-62 all-time record (.515) in regional and national tournament games. The Scots trail Marietta College (38), Ithaca College (37), and Eastern Connecticut State University (34) when it comes to all-time tournament appearances, and coincidentally, three of the top four teams were at last week's Mideast Regional.
NCAA Div. III Championships History - Part II: This year marks the Scots sixth appearance in the Div. III Baseball Championships, and its the first time since 2009 when Wooster finished as the runner-up after the University of St. Thomas - Minnesota walked off in the bottom of the 12th inning of the winner-takes-all game. Wooster's other finals' appearances came in 1989, 1994, 1997, and 2005. Overall, Wooster is 10-10 at the Div. III Championships site, including 6-4 at Fox Cities Stadium. Wooster was also the runner-up in 1997 and finished third in 2005.
2018 Div. III Mideast Regional Recap: Adrian College's Nicolay Field was magical once against for Wooster, as the Scots went undefeated at the Mideast Regional, and the site also hosted the regional the last time the Black and Gold punched a ticket to Appleton. In the championship game, Wooster manufactured the go-ahead run on the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior Garrett Crum (Alliance, Ohio/Canton South) broke for second early in an effort to get Wabash College's Cody Cochran to balk. That didn't happen, and Crum and junior Michael Wielansky (St. Louis, Mo./Ladue Horton Watkins) safely made it back to first and third base respectively. Then, Crum was off to a big lead at first base in an effort to intentionally draw a throw over from Cochran, who obliged and skipped the toss past first baseman Jackson Blevins. Prior to the 4-2 win over Wabash, Wooster advanced to the championship round with a 17-4 win over the hosts. In that contest, Wooster raced out of the gate with a six-run first inning, and the Scots never took their foot off the gas pedal the rest of the way. Junior Brian Murray (McLean, Va./Bishop O'Connell) struck out the side looking in the top of the fourth inning and finished with seven strikeouts. On Friday, Wooster capitalized on No. 16 Shenandoah University's wildness down the stretch as the Scots took the lead during a four-run sixth inning and pulled away down the stretch for a 13-5 victory. A throwing error by the Hornets enabled the go-ahead run to score in the sixth inning. In the regional opener - also a 4-2 Wooster win over Wabash - junior Chandler Dippman (Waterville, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) went the distance allowing two runs on 10 hits while striking out a career-high six batters. Wooster jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
2018 NCAC Tournament Recap: Wooster's bid at a third-straight conference tournament title was thwarted by Wabash, as the Little Giants took the winners bracket game 7-3 and championship round game 17-8 over the Scots. Wooster opened play at the NCAC Tournament with an 8-1 win over Kenyon College. Crum sparked the offense with a two-run homer in the second inning. First-year Evan Faxon (Cleveland Hts., Ohio/Hawken School) earned his first collegiate save with four innings of one-hit relief work while striking out five. In Friday night's elimination game, Dippman went the distance in a 4-2 win over Denison University. Dippman allowed two runs on nine hits while striking out five. Offensively, sophomore Dan Harwood (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville-Broadview Heights) clubbed a two-run round tripper to give the Scots the lead in the fourth inning. In Saturday's championship round, Wooster was unable to catch Wabash on the scoreboard despite four homers in the game, two of which came off the bat of sophomore Harry Witwer-Dukes (Eugene, Ore./Blachet Catholic).
A Look-Back at 2009 Championship Games: St. Thomas' Dan Leslie stroked a one-out single through the left side and teammate Matt Olson easily beat the throw home, giving the Tommies a 3-2, 12-inning victory in the "second" national championship game. The Tommies continually threatened to score on Mark Miller, who put forth a gutsy effort by pitching all 11 1/3 innings. St. Thomas had the winning run in scoring position during the eighth, ninth, 10th, and 11th innings, only to see Miller work out of each jam, including three of the team's five double plays being turned over that stretch. Wooster's lone offense of the game came on a two-run blast by Matt Groezinger in the fourth inning. Stu Beath had singled prior to Groezinger's home run, which easily cleared the double-tiered billboards in left field. In the first game of the championship round, St. Thomas got a complete-game performance from Matt Schuld, who held off a late rally by the Scots to pull out the two-run (6-4) victory. The Tommies scored twice in the fourth and seventh innings to build a 4-1 lead. Shane Swearingen kicked off a three-run rally in the eighth inning by clubbing his first home run of the season. Next, John Warren lined a sharp single to centerfield, Sean Karpen drew a walk, and Luke Sutton laid down a sacrifice bunt for the fifth time during the finals. Beach plated both runs via a one-out double to right-center, tying the game at four, but St. Thomas scored a pair of runs in the ninth inning.
The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Wooster is home to the active leader in NCAA Div. III coaching wins - the one and only Tim Pettorini, who owns a 1,213-444-6 record (.731) in 37 seasons, all with the Scots. Pettorini's guided the team to 25 NCAA regional appearances and a league-best 18 NCAC championships. His squads have won the Mideast regional and advanced to the finals on six occasions (1989, 1994, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2008). There, Wooster has a pair of national runner-up finishes (1997, 2009) and a third-place performance (2005) to its credit. 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. This season, the legendary skipper moved up to fifth-place on the all-time Div. III coaching list during Wooster's 15-4 win over Allegheny College on April 21, and his 1,200th win came shortly after, courtesy of a 5-1 triumph over La Roche College on April 26.
Wooster vs. the Field: Wooster doesn't have that much familiarity with this year's NCAA Div. III Championships field, but of the three games played all-time against teams in the field, two of them have come within the last three years at the Mideast Regional. Wooster beat Misericordia 12-0 at the 2017 Mideast Regional to knock out the Cougars, and Randolph-Macon won an exciting 2-1 game over the Scots at the 2016 Mideast Regional. Wooster's also 1-0 all-time against Concordia.
Matching Div. III History: Wielansky became the second known player in Div. III history to have 200 hits, 200 runs, and 150 RBI by the end of his junior year with a run in last week's Mideast Regional opener. Wielansky enters play this week with 230 hits, 206 runs, and 156 RBI. Hits 230 career base knocks are already the eighth-most in the storied program's history.
Runs in Bunches: Wielansky enters the Div. III Championships with a career-high 76 runs on the season, and he's now first in Div. III in that stat. With three more runs, he'll match W Association Hall of Famer Trevor Urban's 1997 single-season school-record of 79. Karpen, who scored 77 times during the 2009 run to the national title game is second in program history in runs. Additionally, should Wielansky finish as the national leader in runs, it'll mark his second straight season doing so.
Mr. RBI I and Mr. RBI II: Wooster's lineup boasts a pair of big-time producers in the heart of the order in Harwood and Crum, who both hit immediately behind Wielansky. Harwood's blossomed in his first full season as a starter, as the slugger is second nationally in RBI with 72 and fifth nationally with 14 home runs. Harwood enters the championships five RBI shy of matching W Association Hall of Famer Rick Sforzo's 1986 single-season program benchmark of 77. Crum isn't that far behind in the RBI department with 69, a total fourth nationally and tied for sixth on the program's single season list. Should Crum have a RBI in Appleton, it'll mark the seventh 70-RBI season in program history. Prior to Harwood reaching 70 RBI during the Mideast Regional, the last Scot to do so was Groezinger in 2009, and he had 73 that year.
Numero Uno: Wooster rose to pole position in the D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top-25 Poll on May 1, and the top billing marked the program's first No. 1 ranking since the 2008 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll. Wooster received 12 first-place votes, and had 602 points overall in the poll. The Scots have now been ranked No. 1 in five different seasons in the 2000s, starting in 2002 when Wooster earned top billing for four consecutive weeks. During the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Wooster was either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Div. III coaches' poll each week during the regular season. Wooster is ranked fourth in the most recent D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top-25 Poll and fifth in the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Top-30 Poll.
Mr. NCAA: Fling is the Div. III active leader in at bats (765), hits (259), and runs (217). The four-year centerpiece in center field broke the NCAC and Wooster records for at bats during the Scots' sweep over the Gators, and that came one day after scoring his 200th career run at Muskingum University. Fling's runs' milestone also came in a game in which he matched the NCAC and Wooster records with six runs scored He's now fourth all-time in Div. III history in at bats, trailing University of Southern Maine's Sam Dexter (2013-16; 806), Heidelberg University's Gar Keen (2008-11; 783), Methodist University's Jansen Evans (1985-88; 773), and Marietta College's Tim Saunders (2009-12; 765). Fling's also now tied for 14th in Div. III history in runs with 217, and with two more runs, he'll be in the top 10 all-time in Div. III history. Should Fling reach 219 career runs - a top-10 spot - it'll mark the most runs scored in Div. III since Eastern Connecticut State's Melvin Castillo scored 233 times during the 2007-10 seasons.
Breaking Barriers: Wooster's storied program has a laundry list of all-time great hitters, but prior to 2017, they all had one thing in common - none of them surpassed 200 career hits until their season seasons. That changed last year when Fling logged his 200th career base knock against Earlham in the opening game at the Mideast Regional. Wielansky's 200th career hit came via an infield single against La Roche back on April 26, and he's already up to eighth all-time in program history.
Simply Put, Wooster's Offense the Best Thus Far in 2018: Wooster's offense has been among the NCAA's elite thus season, and the Scots have the numbers to back it up. Entering the championships, the Black & Gold are tops nationally in average (.353), hits (645), runs (511), second in slugging (.545), and sixth in on-base percentage (.439). In fact, Wooster's 645 hits are a new single-season team record and the Scots head to Appleton 17 runs shy of matching the 1997 team's program record.
And the Defense is Just a Good: Wooster's defense has been just as good as the offense this year, as the Scots .978 fielding percentage is the second-highest in the country entering play this week. Wooster's made 41 errors in its 48 games this year.
Father-Son Bonding Experience: This week represents a special bonding experience for the Tornows. Drew Tornow (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) is currently the Scots' starting right fielder. Father, Brian, was a reserve outfielder on the 1989 team that was the first in program history to make it to then-six-team championships. Son, Drew, is coming off a big week and was named to the Mideast Regional All-Tournament team. Tornow went 6-for-14 with six runs - the second-most on the team - and knocked in four. He also walked four times and had a .556 on-base percentage over the four games.
Mr. Utility: Dippman continues to impress on the mound, and in fact, got the call on the mound for the regional opener last week. The right-hander is 8-0 on the year with a 2.06 ERA spanning 65 2/3 innings pitched. Dippman's 4-0 in his last four starts, which have come against La Roche, Otterbein University, Denison, and Wabash - all teams in this year's regional tournaments - and he's strung together a 2.12 ERA during that span over 34 innings. In his last four starts, Dippman's gone the distance three times and has struck out 16, including a career-high of six against the Little Giants at the Mideast Regional. Offensively, Dippman has posted career-highs in hits (44), runs (36), and RBI (36), while defensively, he sports a .964 fielding percentage while anchoring down the "hot corner."
Linde Finding Home in Bullpen: Junior Wyatt Linde (Boulder, Colo./Boulder) has delivered a strong bounce-back year after missing most of last year with an injury. Linde, who split time between starter and reliever as a first-year, made 11 relief appearances in total last year while posting a fine 3.46 ERA. The left-hander's 28 appearances in 2018 is tops on the team, ranks fifth nationally, and is the second-most in a single season at Wooster. Alumnus Michael Whitaker made a single-season program record 30 appearances in 2015.
Murray Rises to Occasion: Murray started his career filling a variety of roles out of the bullpen and in spot-start action. Now in his third year with the program, Murray's stepped up and locked down the No. 2 starter spot. This season, the right-hander is 6-2 with a 3.14 ERA spanning 66 innings, headlined by six innings of five-hit, two-run baseball while striking out seven against Adrian to help Wooster clinch a spot in the championship round of the Mideast Regional.
First-Years Answer the Call: Faxon and fellow rookie Andrew Hill (New Albany, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy (Va.)) answered the call in the Mideast Regional both in the winners' bracket win over Shenandoah, and then against Wabash in the championship round. Faxon earned his first collegiate win against Shenandoah with three-plus innings of scoreless, hitless relief, while Hill recorded the final four outs against Wabash with three strikeouts to collect his third save of the season. Overall, both Faxon and Hill appeared in two games at the regional and combined to post a 1.69 ERA over 10 2/3 innings.
Scots Have Nine on All-Conference Team: Wooster was well represented when the all-conference team was announced last week Tuesday as nine student-athletes earned certificates. Dippman led the way among the honorees with first-team honors at both third base and as a utility player. Crum, Harwood, junior second baseman Jacob Stuursma (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson), and Wielansky joined Dippman on the first team. Fling, Saran, and Tornow were second-team selections, while Murray earned a honorable mention certificate. Fling finished his career as a four-time all-conference honoree, and he's the ninth Wooster great to earn all-conference honors each season, and the third outfielder to do so.
Smarty Pants: Wielansky was voted to the College Sports Information Directors of America's Google Cloud Academic All-District® Team for the second year in a row. Wielansky, who sports a 3.42 GPA as a business economics major, was one of four infielders voted to the team from all Div. III baseball teams in Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.