Outlook: The 15th-ranked College of Wooster baseball team (24-10, 13-3 North Coast Athletic Conference) is the top seed for this week's NCAC Tournament, and the Fighting Scots enter play in search of a league-leading 14th tournament crown. Play begins at this week's league championship against defending champion Wabash College (21-17, 9-8 NCAC) at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Denison University (34-6, 14-4 NCAC) and Allegheny College (21-15, 10-7 NCAC) meet in Thursday's other first-round game at 1 p.m. Due to NCAC policies prohibiting teams from playing on commencement, this year's tournament will start with a two-day format. That means the winners of Thursday's first two games are set to meet at 4 p.m. with the two losers set to play in the first elimination game at 7 p.m. on Thursday. No game will be started after 10 p.m. on Thursday. Providing all four games are played on Thursday, Friday's schedule starts with the second elimination game at 10 a.m., and the championship round would start at 2 p.m. Should a team with a graduation conflict be eliminated, Saturday and/or Sunday may be used as necessary.
Ticket Info: The prices for admission to the 2019 NCAC Baseball Tournament are $7 for adults and $3 for students and children. Each ticket is good for one day of admission at the tournament.
On the Air: All of the NCAC Tournament games will have live stats and live video. Wabash will carry the live stream of all games at https://livestream.com/wabashcollegelive/2019NCACBaseball, and live stats can be found at https://sidearmstats.com/wabash/baseball. All four participating teams will share the webcast and official scoring responsibilities. Fans can also follow the team's Twitter account - @WoosterBaseball - for periodic updates.
Swan Song: Wooster is home to the active leader in NCAA Div. III coaching wins - the one and only Tim Pettorini, who owns a 1,237-456-6 record (.730) in 38 seasons, all with the Scots. Pettorini, who will retire at the conclusion of the 2019 season, has guided the team to 25 NCAA regional appearances and a league-best 19 NCAC championships. His squads have won the Mideast Regional and advanced to the eight-team finals on six occasions (1989, 1994, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2018). 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. Last year, the legendary skipper moved up to fifth-place on the all-time Div. III coaching list during Wooster's 15-4 win over Allegheny on April 21, 2018.
Unprecedented: Wooster became the first program in NCAC history to win four consecutive conference championships this season, with the Scots officially clinching their league-leading 19th championship with an official announcement from the conference office on Monday. Wooster previously had a chance to send out a senior class with four consecutive conference championships in 2007, but Ohio Wesleyan University upended the Scots in the 2007 NCAC Tournament, which at the time determined the conference champion. Starting last year, the team with the highest winning percentage in the NCAC is deemed the conference champion since the teams now play a full round-robin schedule. Wooster's in the midst of a NCAC-leading sixth stretch of winning at least two straight conference championships.
NCAC Tournament Success: Wooster's won a league-best 13 NCAC Tournaments and has made the championship round of the league tourney 20 times since the tournament started back in 1991. Wooster's won four of the last seven league tournaments.
A Look-Back at the 2018 NCAC Tournament: 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 the championship round game 17-8 over the Scots. Wooster opened play at the NCAC Tournament with an 8-1 win over Kenyon College. Senior Garrett Crum (Alliance, Ohio/Canton South) sparked the offense with a two-run homer in the second inning. Sophomore 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, senior 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, junior 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 junior Harry Witwer-Dukes (Monmouth, Ore./Blachet Catholic).
Numero Uno: Wooster started the season in pole position in the D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 25 Poll, marking the sixth different season in the 2000s the Scots have had at least one No. 1 ranking. Wooster's first No. 1 ranking this century came in 2002, when the Scots earning top billing for four consecutive weeks. Wooster was either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Div. III coaches' poll each week during the 2006 and 2007 regular seasons, and was No. 1 in CollegiateBaseball's 2008 preseason prognostics. Last season, Wooster was voted No. 1 in the May 1 D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25.
23 in a Row: Crum logged Wooster's 12th 20-game hitting streak, reaching the milestone with a fourth-inning double during the Scots' 16-9 win over Denison on April 27. Crum's streak was snapped at 23, as he went hitless in game two of the twin bill against Wittenberg University on May 1. Crum hit a remarkable .526 (51-for-97) during his 23-game run with 35 RBI and 27 runs scored. He was the NCBWA Div. III Honorable Mention Player of the Week for games spanning April 22-28.
RBI Machine: Very few Div. III players have been as consistent as Crum when it comes to driving in runs. The Scots' standout first baseman ranked in the top 10 in Div. III in RBI as a sophomore and junior, and he enters the NCAC Tournament 10 shy of having three straight seasons with at least 50. For his career, Crum's 166 RBI are the 12th-most in program history, and he enters the week with 187 career base knocks.
Utility Ace: Dippman's well established as one of the premier utility men in all of Div. III. The four-year starter has seen his role shift around some this year, as he's spent time as the starter at second base as well as designated hitter, but one thing's for certain - he has a knack for stepping up in the biggest games. The senior was on a roll earlier this season on the bump as he had a four-start stretch (Bethany College, Hiram College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash) during which he allowed one run on 17 hits in 26 innings of work. The right-hander went the distance against Wabash, during which he fired a two-hit shutout on 80 pitches. A week prior, he allowed one run on five hits in a complete-game effort versus Ohio Wesleyan.
Simply Getting on Base: Last year, Harwood enjoyed a breakthrough season during which he clubbed 14 homers and drove in 72 runs en route to earning All-American honors. While his power numbers are down this year, he's actually a more well-rounded player. That's because Harwood's hitting a career-high .400 (50-for-125) and is reaching base at a .516 clip. The junior's walked 21 times and has been hit 10 times.
Filling Big Shoes: Senior Jacob Stuursma (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) came into the season already established as one of the premier infielders in the NCAC. Nonetheless, he had some big shoes to fill with moving over to shortstop to replace Michael Wielansky, the 2018 American Baseball Coaches Association's Div. III National Player of the Year. Stuursma's excelled in his new position, and he enters the NCAC Tournament as the team's leader in runs (41), while also ranking second on the team in hits (54) and third in average (.388).
"King of the Hill": Sophomore Andrew Hill (New Albany, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy (Va.)) fired the 13th no-hitter in program history during Wooster's 16-0 win over Allegheny on April 21. The sophomore's electric stuff was just what the Scots needed to get back on track after falling in game one to the Gators, 6-1. While Hill's tops on the team with 45 strikeouts, it was the defense behind the righty getting the job done all afternoon and keeping the no-no intact. Twelve of the 13 batters Hill faced between innings two and five were retired, and only one by means of a strikeout. Hill's no-hitter is the program's first since Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads' perfect game against Hiram on April 15, 2012.
Old Reliable: Senior Wyatt Linde (Boulder, Colo./Boulder) has trotted out of the bullpen a team-high 17 times this season. He's 2-1 on the year with a save, and sports a 4.41 ERA over 16 1/3 innings. Last year, the southpaw appeared in 28 games, marking the second-most in program history. For his career, Linde's 6-3 with a 4.78 ERA over 75 1/3 innings. His 60 career relief appearances are the sixth-most all-time at the College.
Faxon Enters NCAC Tournament on a Roll: Faxon is a key reason why Wooster was able to clinch a league-leading 19th NCAC title this spring. The southpaw fired 8 1/3 innings of three-hit shutout baseball during Wooster's 1-0 win over Kenyon College on May 4. Coming into the tournament, Faxon hasn't been charged with a run in his last five outings, which span 19 innings.