By virtue of claiming its third Northwest Conference championship in four seasons, top-ranked Linfield (34-6) has received an invitation to the six-team, double-elimination NCAA Division III Austin Regional baseball tournament, hosted by Concordia (Texas) at Tornado Field. Tournament action gets underway Wednesday and concludes Saturday.
The five other teams participating in the Austin Regional include Cal Lutheran (34-7-1), Texas-Tyler (35-10), Pomona-Pitzer (29-14), Trinity (Texas) (36-7) and Texas Lutheran (33-12).
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The regional tournament champion advances to compete in the eight-team NCAA Division III Baseball Championship finals, scheduled for May 24-28 at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. The event is jointly hosted by Lawrence University and the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau.
THE FIRST ROUND
No. 1 seed Linfield and sixth-seeded Texas Lutheran open the tournament Wednesday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for noon Central Daylight Time. Other first-round matchups pit No. 2 Cal Lutheran against No. 5 Trinity in a 3:30 p.m. game, and the 3-versus-4 matchup between Texas-Tyler and Pomona-Pitzer at 7 p.m.
WEST REGIONAL SCHEDULE
(Seeding in parentheses, all times Central)
Wednesday, May 15
Game 1: (1) Linfield vs. (6) Texas Lutheran, Noon
Game 2: (2) Cal Lutheran vs. (5) Trinity, 3:30 p.m.
Game 3: (3) Texas-Tyler vs. (4) Pomona-Pitzer, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 16
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, Noon
Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 3:30 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.
If Four Teams Remain After Game 6:
Friday, May 17
Game 7: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, noon
Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 6, 3:30 p.m.
Game 9: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 18
Game 10: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, Noon
Game 11 if necessary, 4 p.m.
If five teams remain after Game 6:
Friday, May 17
Game 7: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6
Game 8: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 7
If two teams after Game 9:
Saturday, May 18
Game 10: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, Noon
Game 11 if necessary
If three teams remain after Game 9:
Saturday, May 18
Game 10: Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 9, Noon
Game 11: Winner 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 4 p.m.
All tournament games feature live stats, courtesy of Concordia (Texas) Sports Information.
The Wildcats departed campus Monday afternoon and flew from Portland to San Antonio, via Denver, before bussing to Austin, arriving at the hotel at approximately 2:45 a.m. local time. The team practiced Tuesday afternoon at Tornado Field in preparation for Wednesday's first-round game.
Linfield has already run into one of its potential regional opponents this season: Pomona-Pitzer. The Wildcats took three games (6-2, 9-3 and 15-4) from the then 22nd-ranked Sagehens during a mid-April trip to California.
The ‘Cats hold down the nation’s top spot in both the D3baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball polls. Three other teams in the Austin Regional are ranked in the Top 25, including 6/3 Trinity, 8/5 Cal Lutheran and 18/17 Texas-Tyler. Pomona-Pitzer and Texas Lutheran received votes in both polls.
Linfield (Ore.): After turning in a program-best conference record of 21-3 en route to its third NWC Crown of the past four seasons, Linfield (34-6) enters the postseason hungry to prove its No. 1 ranking and repeat the team’s 2008 and 2010 runs to the NCAA Division III Finals. Four-time NWC Coach of the Year Scott Brosius has amassed a 192-70 record in six seasons at his alma mater. Returning all-American Tim Wilson (Jr., Redmond, Wash.) led the NWC in hits (75), runs (49), and stolen bases (30), and finished second in batting average at .429. Junior left fielder Jake Wylie (Jr., Eagle, Idaho) paced the team in home runs (7) and his 58 RBI are the third most across all of DIII baseball. Fellow outfielders Nick Fisher (Jr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Kramer Lindell (Jr., West Linn, Ore.) were at the heart of Linfield’s offense, which hit .327 and outscored opponents 316-130 on the year. Fisher, Lindell and Clayton Truex (Jr., Kirkland, Wash.) each hit four homers for the ‘Cats, who topped the conference in long balls (25) along with every other offensive category. Sophomore pitching tandem Chris Haddeland (Soph., McMinnville, Ore.) and Aaron Thomassen (Soph., Seattle, Wash.) combined for 21 wins and 135 strikeouts in 167 innings. Justin Huckins (Jr., Bend, Ore.) led the NWC in saves (7) and struck out 30 batters in 31 2/3 innings with a 1.42 ERA. As a team, Linfield hit .321 with runners in scoring position and drove in 96 runs with two outs. The Wildcats’ potent offense makes it a threat to score early and often; the ‘Cats are 27-2 when they score first, and 31-1 when leading after six innings.
Cal Lutheran (Calif.): The Kingsmen (34-7-1) enter the 2013 postseason having won five straight and 20 of its last 21 overall en route to clinching the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title for the first time since 2001. For coaching legend and 20-year veteran Marty Slimak - the all-time wins leader in Cal Lutheran history with a career mark of 548-275-8 - it marked the eighth SCIAC title and 20th consecutive winning season during his tenure. Led by SCIAC Player of the Year Jake Petersen and Pitcher of the Year Aaron Roth, the Kingsmen topped the conference in every major hitting category, highlighted by an impressive .360 team batting average. Petersen, who transferred to Cal Lutheran after two years at NCAA Division I Cal-State Northern, is a dual threat for the Kingsman. He led the team offensively in batting average (.466), runs (56), and stolen bases (9), and on the mound in innings pitched (83 1/3), and strikeouts (72). SCIAC first teamer Nick Boggan clubbed a team-high 12 home runs and nation-leading 65 RBI while hitting .411, and Nicho DellaValle hit .401 with 48 runs scored and 42 RBI for the Kingsmen. Roth led the conference in saves (11) while turning in a dazzling 0.99 ERA and striking out 70 batters in 63 2/3 innings pitched. CLU performed well defensively, topping the conference in fielding percentage (.965) and committing a SCIAC-low 57 errors.
Texas-Tyler (Texas): Texas-Tyler swept the five-game American Southwest Conference tournament to capture its third title in program history. First-year coach Chris Bertrand guided the Patriots to an overall record of 35-10, accomplished by outscoring their opponents 272-155. ASC Player of the Year Kevan House led the team with eight homers, drove in 42 runs and scored 35 times. A total of 13 Patriots received all-ASC honors, including Isaac Tijerina, who led the team in RBI (44), and Derek Smith, who topped the squad in stolen bases (13). Texas-Tyler posted the highest fielding percentage (.978) in the ASC, with first baseman Tijerina and catcher Cayden Cunniff both posting lines of .993 or better in that category. Starters Jordan Marah and Chance Cotton led the way on the mound, combining for 16 wins and turning in ERAs of 2.17 and 2.48, respectively. Marah struck out 54 batters in 54 innings pitched, and Cotton struck out 76 in his team-high 90.2 innings of work. Senior right-hander Derek Miller recorded an ASC-high 15 saves on the season. The Patriots benefitted from a .318 team batting average with runners in scoring position, and the pitching staff allowed just 2.94 walks per game. When Texas-Tyler leads after six innings the team is an incredible 28-0, and the Patriots have not been shut out.
Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.): Pomona-Pitzer (29-14) finished the 2013 season in second place in the SCIAC behind Cal Lutheran. In his 11th season, battle-tested head coach Frank Pericolosi is the winningest coach in program history. Pomona-Pitzer’s strength lies within its ability to play small ball, as the Sagehens led the conference in walks (155) and were second in on-base percentage (.392). SCIAC first teamer Nick Gentili led the team in on-base percentage (.469) and home runs (5), while hitting .389 with 37 RBI, 20 walks and eight stolen bases. Two-time all-SCIAC selection Jake Bruml homered four times and drove in a team-high 38 runs while hitting .359 with 45 runs scored and 23 walks for Pomona Pitzer. Erik Munzer hit .384 and stole 10 bases, and sophomore E.J. Lopez drew 18 walks and was a perfect 10-for-10 on the base paths. Bruml also handled the majority of the pitching duties for the Sagehens, turning in a 7-4 record and a 3.15 ERA with 50 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 91 1/3 innings. Simon Rosenbaum started eight contests, posting a 5-1 mark with an impressive 2.03 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings. The team has faired well in close games, posting an 11-4 record in contests decided by two or fewer runs. When Pomona-Pitzer scores first it is a solid 23-6, but when it doesn’t it is just 6-8.
Trinity (Texas): The Tigers (36-7) come roaring into the postseason on a 12-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship that secured their third title in four seasons. Tim Scannel is at the helm in his 15th season with the program, having amassed 481 victories to become Trinity’s all-time wins leader. The Tigers’ monstrous offense is centered around junior outfielder Pat Hirschberg, who led the SCAC in batting average (.411), on-base percentage (.486), slugging percentage (.735), home runs (7), triples (7) and RBI (51). Christian Muscarel hit .394 with three home runs, 34 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a team-high 63 hits. Trinity dominated the SCAC in nearly every offensive category, outscoring opponents 334-150 and producing almost three times the amount of extra-base hits as they allowed (127-48). Zack Speer posted a perfect 8-0 record with a stellar 1.47 ERA and 61 strikeouts, and fellow starter Ryan Lucero was equally impressive with a 9-1 mark, 2.22 ERA and team-high 73 strikeouts against just 14 walks. As a team, the Tigers notched a 2.55 ERA and struck out 380 batters in 370.2 innings pitched. Catcher Chris Bianchi handled all 170 chances perfectly as the Tigers posted a .959 fielding percentage overall. Trinity has a knack for the timely hit; the Tigers are batting .358 with runners in scoring position and have driven in 67 percent of runners on third with less than two outs.
Texas Lutheran (Texas): The Bulldogs (33-12) earned the second at-large berth of the Austin Regional after winning the West Division of the American Southwest Conference and going 1-2 in the conference tournament. Sixth-year coach Greg Burnett improved his career record to 162-97 after guiding the Bulldogs to their 19th consecutive winning season dating back to 1994. Klaus Bohrmann led the team in hitting (.355) and home runs (3). ASC first-team selection Derek Kanas led the Bulldogs with 36 RBI and Christian DeBlanc stole 19 bases and hit .324 for TLU. Jeff Spillane and Aaron Aleman each started 14 contests and won nine games for TLU, as the two combined to strikeout 138 batters in 175 1/3 innings pitched. Sean Kistler was untouchable out of the bullpen, allowing just 23 base runners and no earned runs with 30 strikeouts en route to 14 saves. While the Bulldogs outscored opponents 245-153 on the season, the team’s strength does not lie within its power. The team hit just 11 home runs and only 77 of its 409 total hits went for extra bases. Instead, TLU gets on base and starts its runners, signified by its ASC-best 182 walks and 95 stolen bases. The Bulldogs are solid defensively, committing just 44 errors and posting a fielding percentage of .973 while turning 36 double plays in 2013.
Team-high seven saves
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