Scots Tabbed as No. 1 Seed for Mideast Regional, Open Against Wabash on Thursday

Drew Tornow
Drew Tornow
James Usher
James Usher

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Outlook: For the second straight year, the fourth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team (36-8, 16-2 North Coast Athletic Conference) has earned the top seed at the Mideast Regional and will head to Adrian, Mich. to play in this week's (May 17-21) eight-team double-elimination tournament, with play set to begin on Thursday, May 17. 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 with conference peer Wabash College (28-15, 10-8 NCAC)  in a  rematch of the 2018 NCAC Tournament championship round.

The regional also features second-seeded Otterbein University (30-14, 14-4 Ohio Athletic Conference), third-seeded and No. 14 La Roche College (34-8-1, 16-2 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference), fourth-seeded Marietta College (27-16, 12-6 OAC), fifth-seeded and No. 16 Shenandoah University (34-10, 14-6 Old Dominion Athletic Conference), sixth-seeded Ithaca College (28-15, 12-7 Empire 8 Athletic Conference), and seventh-seeded and No. 25 Adrian College (33-10, 24-4 Michigan Collegiate Athletic Association).

There are eight regionals taking place across the country (five with eight teams and three with six for a total of 58 teams), and each champion will qualify for the national championship at Fox Cities Stadium near Appleton, Wis., May 25-30.

Regional Site: All games at the 2018 Div. III Mideast Regional will be played at Nicolay Field, a state-of-the-art complex that includes a field completely covered in field turf by ProGrass, an underground drainage system, professional caliber dugouts, bullpens, and batting cages. The field is located on Village Green Dr. in Adrian, Mich.

Ticket Info: Ticket prices are $8 per day for adults, and $5 per day for children, senior citizens, and students at one of the eight participating institutions (with a valid student ID).

Media Coverage: Adrian will be providing a video stream and live stats of all contests, links to which can be accessed on Wooster's baseball schedule page when available, and on the team's Twitter account @WoosterBaseball. Links will be tweeted out from the team's account 20 minutes prior to the scheduled game time. 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 30th Div. III tourney appearance, owns a 62-62 all-time record (.500) in regional and national tournament games. The Scots trail Marietta (38), Ithaca (37) and Eastern Connecticut State (34) when it comes to all-time tournament appearances, and coincidentally, three of the top four teams will be at the same regional site this week.

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. Junior Garrett Crum (Alliance, Ohio/Canton South) 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, junior Chandler Dippman (Waterville, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) 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)

2017 Regional Rewind: Wooster went 1-2 at last year's Mideast Regional, hosted by Washington & Jefferson College. Wooster was tripped up by an old conference foe, Earlham College 6-2, before rebounding to knock out Misericordia University 12-0. DePauw University ousted Wooster 13-4, in a game that took place one week after the Scots routed the Tigers 25-6 in the 2017 NCAC Tournament en route to claiming a league-best 17th conference crown.

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 1,209-444-6 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 eight-team finals on five occasions (1989, 1994, 1997, 2005, 2009). 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's super familiar with a majority of the teams in this year's NCAA Div. III Mideast Regional, both in terms of this season and historically. This year, Wooster's 5-2 against teams in the regional thanks to a pair of regular-season wins over Wabash, and non-conference triumphs over Marietta (9-4) on April 12, La Roche (5-1) on April 26, and Otterbein (9-5) on May 1. Wooster's 45-9 all-time against Otterbein, 1-1 against La Roche, 23-36 versus Marietta, 0-1 against Shenandoah, 4-3 versus Adrian, 29-9 against Wabash, and 1-0 versus Ithaca. In the NCAA Tournament, Wooster's 4-1 all-time versus Otterbein, 7-13 against Marietta, 2-2 when squaring off with Adrian, and 0-1 versus La Roche. La Roche knocked Wooster out of the 2016 NCAA Div. III Mideast Regional.

Talking Seeds: This marks the eighth time Wooster's earned the No. 1 seed for the regional since the NCAA began publishing seeds in 1996. Wooster was also the No. 1 seed at least year's Mideast Regional, and prior to that, the Scots hadn't been the top dog since 2007. Wooster's gone 1-2 the last two times its been the No. 1 seed at the regional. In 2007, the Scots opened play with a 5-3 loss against Hope College, rebounded with a 3-2 win over Otterbein, and were knocked out by Marietta in a 6-3 ballgame.

Magical Nicolay: Wooster's still in search of its first NCAA Div. III World Series appearance since 2009, when the Scots advanced to the national championship game for the second time in program history. That year, the regional was hosted at Adrian's Nicolay Field, where a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed pinch runner Chris Wood to come home and lift Wooster to a 4-3 victory in a back-and-forth regional championship game with rival Marietta.

Major Milestone Looming for Wielansky: Junior Michael Wielansky (St. Louis, Mo./Ladue Horton Watkins) needs one run to become the second known player in Div. III history to have 200 hits, 200 runs, and 150 RBI by the end of his junior year. Wielansky enters play this week with 221 hits, 199 runs, and 151 RBI. Matt Gelotti, a 2000 graduate of Southwestern University (Texas) had 234 hits, 203 runs, and 208 RBI at the end of his junior year.

That Run Will Be No. 70 This Year: Should Wielansky score again this season, it'll be his 70th run of the year, and it'll be just the fifth time in the storied program's history a Scot has scored that many times. Sean Karpen was the last student-athlete to have a 70-run season, and he touched home 77 times during the Scots' 2009 run to the national championship game. W Association Hall of Famer Trevor Urban holds the program's single-season record with 79 runs, and that came during another national championship game year - 1997. Wielansky's the first student-athlete in program history to have three consecutive 60-run seasons. He scored 61 times as a first-year, led Div. III in runs with 69 as a sophomore, and is second in the country with 69 runs entering the week.

Numero Uno: Wooster rose to pole position in the 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 second in the most recent Top-25 Poll and third in the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Top-30 Poll.

Mr. NCAA: Senior Jake Fling (Norton, Ohio/Norton) is the Div. III active leader in at bats (747), hits (256), and runs (213). 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 10th all-time in Div. III history in at bats and tied for 20th in scoring. Should Fling touch home two more times, he'll move into a tie for 16th-place all-time in Div. III. Should that happen, Wooster will have six greats in the top-16 all-time in Div. III runs scored.

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 needs five more hits to move into the program's all-time top-10 list.

Jockeying Back-and-Forth: The first Saturday of May has come and gone, and with it, the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. It's only fitting that the Scots have a pair of hitters - Harwood and Crum - jockeying back-and-forth for the team lead in RBI. Harwood holds a slim 68-65 lead over Crum entering the regional, and the duo are second and third nationally in the country entering the week. Wooster hasn't had a student-athlete surpass 70 RBI since Matt Groezinger had 73 in 2009, and there's only been five 70-RBI seasons in program history. W Association Hall of Famer Rick Sforzo's 77 turned in during the 1986 season still stands as the program record.

Doubles Machines: Wooster leads Div. III in doubles with 133, and that total is the most in program history, as Wooster recently moved past the 131 two-baggers the 2006 team had. Eight student-athletes have at least 10 doubles on the year. Wielansky leads the team with 19, and he's followed by Harwood's 16 and Stuursma's 15.

Slick Fielding: Wooster's finished in the top three nationally in fielding percentage in each of the last two years, and the Scots at present are in position to do so again with their .979 fielding percentage leading the country heading into the week. Wooster's made 35 defensive miscues in its 44 games.

Runs in Bunches: Wooster's 473 runs this season are 55 shy of the single-season program record of 528 set in 1997 (55-game season), and is tops among all Div. III teams thus far this season. The Scots also lead the country in hits (601) and slugging percentage (.560), and are second in homers (54) and third in average (.356). The Scots have scored 20 or more runs four times this year, including a co-program-best 34 against Ohio Wesleyan University on April 8. Wooster also matched its single-game program record for hits (31), and established new records for at bats (59) and RBI (34) against the Battling Bishops.

Mr. Utility: Dippman continues to impress on the mound, and in doing so has worked his way up to the Scots' No. 3 starter this year. The right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.06 ERA spanning 56 2/3 innings pitched. Dippman is tied for fourth in the conference in wins and has the second-lowest ERA in the league. Offensively, Dippman is hitting .331 (44-for-133) entering the week, and defensively, he sports a .961 fielding percentage.

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 25 appearances in 2018 is tied for tops on the team, ranks fifth nationally, and is the fifth-most in a single season at Wooster. Alumnus Michael Whitaker made a single-season program record 30 appearances in 2015, and three Scots have appeared in 26 games in a season, most recently senior James Usher (New York, N.Y./Trinity School) last year.

Mr. Appearances: Usher continues to be one of the first arms Pettorini turns to out of the bullpen. The senior is tied for the team lead with 25 appearances, and he's now at 73 for his career, the second-most in program history. Usher is 3-1 with a 5.65 ERA in 28 2/3 innings of work in 2018.

Aces Up His Sleeve: Senior Nanak Saran (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) racked up his 200th career strikeout on the final day of the regular season against Kenyon, and in doing so, became the 13th player in program history to reach the milestone. Saran's the first Scot with 200 career strikeouts since 2011 when Matt Barnes wrapped up his standout career with a school-record 276, and Justin McDowell ended his career with 247. Saran also surpassed 250 career innings pitched in his last outing, the most since alumnus Steve Hagen threw 268 1/3 innings during his career which spanned the 2011-14 seasons. Saran is 8-2 this season with a 2.80 ERA over 64 1/3 innings.

Murray Rises to Occasion: Junior Brian Murray (McLean, Va./Bishop O'Connell) 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 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA spanning 60 innings, headlined by eight innings of two-hit baseball against Wabash in the regular season.

Scots Have Nine on All-Conference Team: Wooster was well represented when the all-conference team was announced on 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 senior Drew Tornow (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) 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.

One vs. Two: Should Wooster and Ithaca play each other, it'll mark a meeting between the two winningest active coaches in Div. III in Pettorini and Ithaca's George Valesente, who have a combined 2,380 wins between them.