Practice Day Video
LINFIELD CHASING FIRST BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP OF NCAA DIVISION III ERA
A season that has already witnessed Northwest Conference and Austin Regional championships, a program-first No. 1 ranking and a record-setting 38 victories comes down to one final weekend for top-ranked Linfield: the NCAA Division III Baseball Finals in Appleton, Wis.
The Wildcats make their third appearance in the eight-team tournament, where the only guarantee once action concludes Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium is that there will be a new national champion, as Marietta, winner of the last two titles, was eliminated in regional competition.
In a true display of geographic diversity, the eight remaining teams in Division III have traveled to the championship site from as close as 65 miles for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (33-9) to as far as opposite coasts for Linfield (38-7) and Southern Maine (42-8). Kean (38-11) and Ithaca (38-6) have won national titles, Manchester (39-5-1) and Webster (36-10) are each making their second trips to Appleton, and Millsaps (38-12) is the lone newcomer making its first Finals appearance.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The Division III national champion brings home a walnut and bronze trophy in the same style awarded to every NCAA champion, regardless of division. Regional champion mini trophies are awarded to the 30-person travel party after each team is eliminated, and members of the winning team receive national championship mini trophies.
THE FIRST ROUND
All pairings are predetermined. Linfield plays Ithaca in Friday’s second game, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown out at 1:15 p.m. Central Daylight Time.
That matchup follows the tournament’s opening game between Southern Maine and Millsaps. The two winners from that half of the bracket meet Saturday at 4:30 p.m., while the losers play an elimination game Saturday at 10 a.m.
Manchester and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point collide Friday at 4:30 p.m., and a 7:45 p.m. game between Kean and Webster concludes first-round action.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
(All times Central)
Friday, May 24
Game 1: Southern Maine vs. Millsaps, 10 a.m.
Game 2: Linfield vs. Ithaca, 1:15 p.m.
Game 3: Manchester vs. Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: Kean vs. Webster, 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, May 25
Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1:15 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:45 p.m.
Sunday, May 26
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, noon
Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 3:30 p.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7 p.m.
Monday, May 27
Game 12: Loser Game 11 vs. Winner Game 9 or Winner Game 10, noon
Game 13: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 9 or Winner Game 10, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28 (if two teams remain)
Game 14: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 11 a.m.
Game 15: If necessary, same teams as Game 14, 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28 (if three teams remain)
Game 14: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 11 a.m.
Game 15: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 14, 2:30 p.m.
VIDEO BROADCAST & LIVE STATS
All NCAA tournament games feature a live video stream and live stats, provided by the NCAA and accessible through the Interactive Bracket.
TRAVEL, PRACTICE & FESTIVITIES
Linfield flew directly from Portland to Appleton on Wednesday, arriving in Fox Valley at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time. Taking proactive measures to protect the dirt and natural grass surfaces at Fox Cities Stadium after a rainy start to the week, tournament officials altered Thursday’s practice schedule. Instead of practicing at the stadium and at nearby Legion Field, the team worked out and took batting practice at a private indoor facility just outside of Appleton before heading to the Fox Cities Stadium to check out the competition site and take the official team photo.
After an afternoon off to study, take final exams and relax, the Wildcats will attend a celebration banquet Thursday at 7:30 p.m. inside the team hotel.
Partly cloudy to mostly sunny skies are expected throughout the weekend, with temperatures in the low to mid 60s.
The Wildcats have not faced any of the seven other finalists this season. All time, Linfield is 2-0 against Ithaca, 1-0 against Webster and 0-1 against Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Not surprisingly, all eight teams in the Finals are ranked in both the D3baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Top 25. Linfield owns the top spot in both polls, Ithaca ranks seventh and ninth, respectively, while Manchester (9/12), Kean (10/10), and Southern Maine (14/8) rank in the Top 10 in at least one poll. Webster is No. 12 on both lists, UW-Stevens Point is 16/18 and Manchester rounds out the field at No. 23/20.
Ithaca (N.Y.): After sweeping the Auburn (N.Y.) Regional with a perfect 4-0 record, the Bombers head to Appleton for their 12th Finals appearance, but first since 1994. Empire 8 Coach of the Year George Valesente (969-427-8) has been with Ithaca for an incredible 35 years and led the Bombers to national titles in 1980 and 1988. Seventh-ranked Ithaca has won 14 games in a row and 16 of its last 17. Empire 8 Player of the Year Tim Locastro and Rookie of the Year Matt Connolly lead an offense that has outscored opponents 331-150. Locastro is hitting .424 with 61 hits, 36 stolen bases and an off-the-charts .539 on-base percentage, while Connolly averages .367 and has struck out just five times in 79 at-bats. Corey Caswell provides the Bombers with power; his three home runs and 40 RBI lead the team and complement his .354 average. Ithaca ace and Empire 8 Pitcher of the Year Pat Lemmo (11-1) has a stellar 1.44 ERA and 66 strikeouts against just 15 walks in 100 1/3 innings. John Prendergast and Jimmy Wagner have combined to go 17-0, and back Lemmo with 98 total strikeouts. As a team, Ithaca led the Empire 8 in on-base percentage (.401), runs (331), hits (477), doubles (78) RBI (282) and walks (151), and fewest strikeouts (158). The pitching staff’s 2.81 ERA topped the league after allowing just 116 earned runs in 371 2/3 innings. The team has played its fair share of close ball games, going 6-3 in contests decided by one run, and is also 3-1 against ranked opponents.
Kean (N.J.): The 2007 Division III champs return to Appleton for their sixth appearance of the past seven years after winning the Moosic (Penn.) Regional with a 4-1 record. The 10th-ranked Cougars are 38-11 under 16-year veteran head coach Neil Ioviero, whose career record sits at 515-193-2. New Jersey Athletic Conference Player of the Year Nick Ramagli and Pitcher of the Year Kevin Herget topped six all-conference selections for the Cougars. Ramagli is hitting a team-high .369 with 45 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and a .433 on-base percentage. Joe O’Connor averages .330 while leading the team in RBI (50) and stolen bases (26). Herget was the most dominant force on the mound in conference play; he led the NJAC in ERA (1.57), shutouts (2), innings pitched (103) and strikeouts (97). The senior right-hander, who has won nine games, and Charles Thielmann provide an excellent one-two punch at the top of the rotation. Thielmann (10-2) has a 2.36 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings. As a team, Kean has outscored its opponents 330-170. The Cougars, who only hit six home runs all season, are masters at manufacturing runs with NJAC highs in on-base percentage (.388), hits (519) and stolen bases (118). Less than 20 percent of Kean’s hits go for extra bases, but patience at the plate in the form of 159 walks gives the Cougars all the base runners they need. The team is also sound defensively, as it topped the conference in fielding percentage at .975 and committed an NJAC-low 50 errors.
Linfield (Ore.): The top-ranked Wildcats ground out several tough victories to emerge from the Austin (Texas) Regional with a 4-1 record. Adding four more wins to its total, Linfield moved to 38-7 on the year, surpassing the previous single-season record of 37. Head coach Scott Brosius, now 196-71 in six seasons, is a four-time Northwest Conference Coach of the Year and was recently named the All-West Region Coach of the Year. First team all-American Tim Wilson led the NWC in hits (75), runs (49) and stolen bases (30), and finished second in batting average (.429). Jake Wylie (Sr., Eagle, Idaho), also selected to the D3baseball.com all-America first team, leads the team in home runs (7) and his 60 RBI are the third most across all of Division III. Fellow outfielders Nick Fisher (Sr., Lake Oswego, Ore.) and Kramer Lindell (Sr., West Linn, Ore.) are at the heart of Linfield’s offense, which is hitting .321 and outscoring its opponents 335-140. National Pitcher of the Year Chris Haddeland (Jr., McMinnville, Ore.) (13-1) boasts a microscopic 0.99 ERA and 85 strikeouts in a nation-high 109 innings pitched. Fellow sophomore Aaron Thomassen (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) has also been impressive, posting an 11-1 record with a 2.66 ERA and 69 strikeouts. Justin Huckins (Sr., Bend, Ore.) (1.42 ERA) led the NWC with seven saves and struck out 30 batters in 31 2/3 innings. Linfield is hitting .315 with runners in scoring position and has driven in 102 runs with two outs. The Wildcats’ potent offense makes it a threat to score early and often. The ‘Cats are 30-2 when they score first, and 35-1 when leading after six innings.
Manchester (Ind.): After wrapping up the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference title with a 22-3 record, the ninth-ranked Spartans cruised through the Terre Haute (Ind.) Regional with a perfect 4-0 record. Seventeen-year skipper and HCAC co-Coach of the Year Rick Espeset (448-271-2) guided Manchester to the Finals in 2004. Manchester is currently on a 16-game winning streak, in which it has outscored opponents 161-54. Bryce Murphy and Kyle Konarski garnered HCAC Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, as 11 total Spartans made the all-conference team. Murphy led the HCAC in hits (74), doubles (21) and runs scored (64), while pacing the Spartans with a .392 average. Jordan Nieman does the heavy lifting for Manchester. His 11 home runs are tied for fifth most in the nation, and he leads all of Division III in RBI (70). Konarski, with a perfect 10-0 record and 2.36 ERA, leads a quartet of starters who have thrown the bulk of the innings. Justin Scott (9-1) has a 2.15 ERA and 53 strikeouts, while Dylan Padgett and Konarski co-lead the squad with 57 strikeouts apiece. Double-threat Murphy carries a 5-2 record from the mound with a team-best 1.10 ERA and 54 strikeouts against just 15 walks. Manchester’s ability to manufacture runs as well as hit for power makes its offense a sophisticated force to be reckoned with. The Spartans led the HCAC in home runs (25), batting average (.337), on-base percentage (.429), runs (401), and hits (555). Manchester is 27-1 when it scores first, and 31-1-1 when scoring six or more runs.
Millsaps (Miss.): No. 23 Millsaps is the only one of the eight finalists making its Finals debut. The Majors took home the Millington (Tenn.) Regional crown after winning the Southern Athletic Association title with a conference record of 17-4. SAA Coach of the Year Jim Page has been in command of the program for 25 years, leading Millsaps to seven Regional berths as part of his 648-312-3 career record. Keith Shumaker, the SAA Player of the Year, is hitting .374 with four home runs, 51 RBI and 63 runs scored, and is also 6-1 with a 2.73 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings on the mound. Fellow first-teamer Wes Perkins led the conference in batting (.428), doubles (26), and RBI (60), and his hits 89 hits rank second in the nation. Will Edwards is 8-2 with a 3.01 ERA and SAA-high 83 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. Daniel Ross is 6-0 with a 3.06 ERA in 61 2/3 innings pitched, and Harper Grier co-leads the team in wins (8-2) with an ERA of 3.38 in 53 1/3 innings. The Majors have scored a whopping 432 runs, thanks in large part to SAA-highs in batting average (.337), on-base percentage (.430), walks (217), stolen bases (98) and extra-base hits (143). Millsaps has won three games in a row and 9-of-10 dating back to April 27. The Majors are average defensively with a .954 fielding percentage, although they led the SAA in double plays turned (109).
Southern Maine (Maine): The 14th-ranked Huskies won the Harwich (Mass.) Regional with a 5-1 record that pushed their season mark to 42-8 overall, and advance to their seventh Finals appearance in program history. Head coach Ed Flaherty led the Huskies to national titles in 1991 and 1997, and boasts a career record of 838-377-4 in 28 seasons. National Player of the Year Tucker White ranks among the nation’s leaders in almost every major offensive category, batting .411 with 10 home runs, 56 RBI, nine triples, 73 runs scored, 35 stolen bases and a .519 on-base percentage. Fellow first team all-American Nick Grady leads the Huskies in batting average (.417), hits (90), and RBI (59) while stealing 15 bases and registering a .457 on-base percentage. USM leads the nation in runs scored (475), home runs (42) and hits (645), and easily topped the Little East Conference in every offensive category en route to a first-place, 12-2 conference finish. Second team all-America pitcher Logan Carman is 12-0 with a 1.62 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 89 innings. Andrew Richards has eaten up 79 1/3 innings for the Huskies despite making just one start. The sophomore owns a 9-2 record with 50 strikeouts, just eight walks and a 1.93 ERA. USM won 19 consecutive games from March 25 through April 20, and has scored 10 runs or more 22 times this season. The Huskies average 9.5 runs scored per contest, while defensively, their pitching staff allows just 3.16.
Webster (Mo.): No. 12 Webster comes out of the Moline (Ill.) Regional with a 36-10 record on the season, and returns to the Finals after making its first appearance in 2012. Head coach Bill Kurich carries a 229-92 record in seven seasons, including six regional tournament runs. The Gorloks had two win streaks of 10 or more games, with a string of 23 victories between March 13 and April 24 interrupted only by an 8-6 loss on April 6. Corey Lasky is hitting a team-high .352 with 38 runs scored, 23 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .413. Alex Kazmierski leads the team in home runs (6) and has driven in 34 runs while hitting .302 and slugging .504. Center fielder Cody Stevenson is a speedy threat at the top of the Gorloks’ lineup, averaging .317 with a team-high 47 runs scored and 31 stolen bases. Steven Dooley holds a 10-2 record with a 2.23 ERA and team-high 68 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched. Isaac Behme (9-3) boasts a 2.76 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings, and Cody Hafeli (7-2) has a 3.90 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 67 innings. The Gorloks have outscored opponents 332-169, and their St. Louis Independent Athletic Conference-highs in stolen bases (135), walks (160) and hits (475), along with 15 home runs and 102 extra base hits show that they wins games through a mix of manufacturing runs and hitting for power.
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (Wis.): The team with the shortest distance to travel takes a 39-9 record to Appleton after emerging from the Whitewater (Wis.) Regional with a perfect 4-0 record. No. 16 UW-Stevens Point is coached by 10-year veteran Pat Bloom, who has led the Pointers to four Finals appearances and holds a career coaching mark of 326-146. Sophomore outfielder Jimmy Coady leads the team in hitting at .398, and has hit five homers, driven in 46 runs, scored 50 times and stolen 15 bases. Sean Gerber is the team leader in home runs (12), RBI (60), and on-base percentage (.468) while hitting .369 with 63 runs. Ryan Schilter averages .376 with a team-high 66 runs scored and 21 stolen bases, and has hit nine balls out of the bank and driven home 48 runs. Jacob Herbst has a 9-1 record with a 2.78 ERA and team-highs in strikeouts (70) and innings pitched (74.1). JP Feyereisen has thrown 70 innings and holds a 2.70 ERA with 56 strikeouts and a 6-2 record for the Pointers. Five other Pointers have thrown 25 or more innings, helping UW-Stevens Point combine for a 3.98 team ERA. Defensively, Schilter posted a .992 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 360 total chances. The Pointers led the Wisconsin Independent Athletic Conference in runs scored (406), hits (584), home runs (40) and stolen bases (75). UW-Stevens Point has outscored opponents 406-221, averaging 8.46 runs scored per game.
Past NCAA Division III Baseball Champions
D3baseball.com Top 25
ABCA Top 25
Kyle Chamberlain, Aaron Thomassen, Scott Brosius
Lead top-ranked Linfield into stacked Finals
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