After finishing the season in a tie for third place in the NCAC regular season race, Wabash (28-15) earned the program’s second NCAC Baseball Tournament title and the league’s automatic bid into 2018 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament after posting a 17-8 win over top-seeded Wooster (36-8) in the tournament title game on Saturday afternoon at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio.
While Wabash earned the league’s AQ into the national tournament, history was also made early Monday (5/14) morning as the league learned that it would have three teams competing in the Div. III tournament for the first time since 1999 with Denison (32-10) and Wooster each earning one of the 16 available at-large selections into the 58-team field. This is now the third year in a row that the NCAC will have multiple teams competing for the Div. III national title.
The Little Giants opened the NCAC Tournament on Thursday evening with a 4-2 win over second-seeded Denison (32-10) and advanced to the championship game on Friday afternoon with a 7-3 win over Wooster. The Little Giants’ pitching staff carried them to the perfect 3-0 record in the tournament, striking out 20 and allowing just 10 earned runs over 27.0 total innings of tournament baseball. In winning the conference tournament, Wabash head coach Jake Martin ‘03 is now the first coach in NCAC history to win the league tournament at two different schools as he also guided the DePauw Tigers to the tournament championship in 2014. After hitting .538 (7-for-13) with one triple, one double, two RBI and four runs scored in the three tournament games, Wabash senior Bryce Aldridge (Bloomington, IN/North) was named the Tournament MVP.
The Fighting Scots opened the NCAC Tournament on Thursday afternoon with an 8-1 win over fourth-seeded Kenyon (16-18), before entering the losers bracket with the 7-3 setback against Wabash on Friday afternoon. However, the Scots got themselves back into the championship round for the seventh year in a row with a 4-2 win over Denison on Friday night.
Wabash and Wooster will both be traveling to the Mideast Regional, which will be hosted by Adrian College at Nicolay Field in Adrian, Michigan, while Denison will head to the South Regional, hosted by William Peace University, at Salamanders Ballpark in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Winners of the eight regional tournaments across the country will qualify for the double-elimination championship at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wisconsin, Friday-Tuesday/Wednesday, May 25- 29/30, 2018.
The eight-team, double elimination Mideast Regional opens on Thursday morning with Marietta (27-16) taking on Shenandoah (34-10) at 10:00 a.m., while the 1:15 p.m. game will be a battle of NCAC squads with Wooster (36-8) squaring off against Wabash (28-15) for the third time in the last week. On the other side of the bracket, La Roche (34-8-1) meets Ithaca (28-15) at 4:30 p.m., while Otterbein (30-14) takes on host Adrian (33-10) in the nightcap at 7:45 p.m. The winner of the WOO/WAB game will square off against the MAR/SHE winner at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, while the losers of the same two opening-round matchups will meet in the first elimination game of the tournament on Friday morning at 10:00 a.m..
The Mideast Regional continues on Saturday with elimination games at 10:00 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., while the two 2-0 teams will meet at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon with a spot in the regional championship round on the line. The winners from the two elimination games on Saturday will meet that same evening at 7:45 p.m., with the winner set to take on the loser of Saturday’s 4:30 contest at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday with a spot in the championship round on the line. The first championship game will be played at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, while the “if-necessary” game will take place on Monday.
The six-team, double elimination South Regional also opens on Thursday with Denison closing out play on day one with a 6:00 p.m. game against Christopher Newport (32-10). The tournament opens at 11:00 a.m. with Randolph-Macon (31-7-1) taking on LaGrange (28-16), while TCNJ (28-9) and Alvernia (28-13) play the middle game of the day at 2:30 p.m. The winner of the DEN/CNU game will play the TCNJ/ALV winner at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, while the loser will take on the winner of the RMC/LAG game at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
The South Regional continues on Saturday with three more games, opening with a winners bracket game at 11:00 a.m. that will advance one team into the championship round. Two more elimination games will then be played at 2:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to determine the final team in the championship round. The first championship round game will be played on Sunday at a time to be announced later, with the second “if necessary” game also slated at some point on Sunday.