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Division II World Series Set To Begin On June 1

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The 2019 NCAA Division II World Series kicks off on Saturday, June 1 and will run until Saturday, June 8. The double-elimination style tournament will be held at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

The field of eight teams competing for this year’s national championship has been set and consists of the eight super regional winners. The teams in this year’s field are Ashland (Ohio), Catawba (N.C.), Central Missouri, Colorado Mesa, Mercyhurst (Pa.), New York Institute of Technology, Tampa (Fla.) and UC San Diego (Cal.).

The first round of matchups will be Ashland vs. Central Missouri and Colorado Mesa vs. NYIT on Saturday, then Catawba vs. UC San Diego and Tampa vs. Mercyhurst on Sunday.

Here’s how each of the final eight teams in the tournament made it this far.

Ashland (Ohio)

This marks Ashland’s sixth NCAA Division II World Series appearance in program history. Ashland faced off against Illinois Springfield in the Midwest Super Regional, and after splitting the first two games, secured the series win in the third game through dramatic fashion.

After some back and forth action in the early innings of the final game, the Eagles carried a 7-6 lead into the seventh inning before Nick Mayerhofer singled to left field, allowing Brandon Bannon to score for Illinois Springfield.

At the start of the bottom of the ninth, the score was still tied, 7-7. Thanks to a pair of walks and Micah Allen being hit by a pitch, Ashland had the bases loaded with only one out. A wild pitch by Illinois Springfield’s Colton Thompson allowed pinch runner Sam Hawley to score the winning run for the Eagles, advancing them to the World Series.

Catawba (N.C.)

Four years ago, Catawba finished as the runner-up in the NCAA Division II World Series. This year, the Indians are led by Hunter Shepherd who has proven to be vital at the plate and on the mound. Shepherd is hitting .372 with 12 home runs while posting a 3.76 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 14 starts this year.

Catawba handed North Greenville (S.C.) back-to-back defeats, both by a score of 4-3. In the first game, Bryan Ketchie threw 6.2 innings for the Indians, giving up just three hits. North Greenville (S.C.) was ahead, 3-2, heading into the top of the eighth. Three straight singles for Catawba allowed Jeremy Simpson to score the tying run and shortly after, Shepherd was able to steal third, then score the winning run due to a throwing error.

At the end of the fourth inning of the second game, the score was tied, 3-3. It remained that way until the bottom of the 14th inning when Jackson Raper was walked, then advanced to third off of a single to right field by Cameron Morrison. Bryce Butler dove into first base to beat the out on his infield single, allowing Raper to score the winning run.

Central Missouri

Central Missouri swept defending champion Augustana (S.D.), 6-4 then 5-2, to clinch the Central Super Regional and return to the World Series for the first time since 2016.

In the first game, the Mules were fueled by a four-run third inning featuring runs by Micah Evans, Mason Janvrin, Alex Madera and Harrison Schnurbusch. Janvrin hit 3-for-5 and Josh Schumacher hit 2-for-3.

Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning of Central Missouri’s second game, the score was tied, 2-2.

Schumacher singled to right field and eventually made it home thanks to a double by Cole Taylor. Taylor advanced to third off of a single by Donovan Ditto and later scored on a passed ball. Ditto stole second, made it to third on a wild pitch and then scored the final run of the game on a fielder’s choice.

By the end of the series, the Mules pitching staff finished with 15 strikeouts and only one walk.

Colorado Mesa

The Mavericks narrowly advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series this year, with all three of their super regional games against Angelo State (Texas) being decided by just one run.

The first game of the series began with 11 scoreless innings.

Colorado Mesa won the first game in extra innings. Spencer Bramwell hit a single to center field, then advanced to third off of a throwing error by the Angelo State (Texas) pitcher. An intentional walk loaded the bases, but Bramwell was thrown out at home. That didn’t stop the Mavericks though, as Johnny Carr singled down the right field line and drove Caleb Farmer in for the sole run of the game.

After dropping the second game, 9-8, Colorado Mesa came out victorious in the final winner-take-all game, 3-2.

The Mavericks scored a pair of runs in the first inning, followed by another run in the bottom of the third. In the eighth inning, Angelo State (Texas) had runners on first and second before Josh Elvir singled to right field, giving the Rams their first run of the game. The Rams were also able to score a run in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough as Colorado Mesa pitcher Will Dixon closed out the inning with a ground out, a pop-fly out and a strikeout.

Mercyhurst (Pa.)

After a blowout loss in the first game of the series against Charleston (W.Va.), 10-2, the Lakers swept the two remaining games to become the repeat champions of the Atlantic Region in 10 years.

Entering the bottom of the sixth inning in the second game of the series, Mercyhurst had a 6-1 lead, but had to endure an offensive onslaught from Charleston (W.Va.) to go on to win, 6-5. A double and a pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs, allowing the Golden Eagles to score four runs in the inning.

The final game of the series wasn’t nearly as stressful for the Lakers as they won, 14-4. Jack Elliott batted 3-for-5 and Ben Monti finished 1-for-2 with four runs. Russell Lamovec started the fourth inning on the mound and never looked back, striking nine batters out and not conceding a single hit.

New York Institute of Technology

The story of the tournament has been the turnaround NYIT has made from last year to now. The Bears dropped from Division I to Division II after winning just five games in the 2017 season. Last year, NYIT won 13 games and decided they needed a coaching change. This year, new head coach and former big leaguer Frank Catalanotto has helped the Bears win 37 games and counting.

The Bears swept Southern New Hampshire, 9-8 and 6-3, to win the East Super Regional. NYIT had some good luck on its side during the first game of the series, as Southern New Hampshire had four errors and failed to complete a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. The Bears had three players hit 3-for-5 in the win.

The second game of the series started off strong for NYIT when EJ Cumbo sent a three-run homer over the right-center field fence. Southern New Hampshire managed to claw its way back into the game during a three-run fifth inning, but it proved to not be enough as the Bears capped off the win with a sixth run in the bottom of the sixth inning.

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Tampa (Fla.)

Tampa is one of the most accomplished programs in Division II history with seven national championships. The Spartans were able to defeat Delta State (Miss.) in both of the first two games of the series to advance to the World Series for a shot at an eighth title in program history.

Tampa pitcher Keven Pimentel was the standout of the first game in the series, carrying the Spartans to a 6-3 victory. The senior right-handed pitcher threw a complete nine innings, striking out five and allowing only one run. Pimentel is 12-2 in 17 starts this season with an ERA of 2.73 and 98 strikeouts.

The second game of the series took 11 innings to complete before Tampa came out with a 6-3 win. At the start of the 11th inning, the score was tied 3-3. Cole Perry doubled to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Two walks loaded the bases with two outs and a third walk followed by a single allowed the Spartans to score three runs and clinch the series.

UC San Diego

After finishing as runner-up in the 2010 and 2017 NCAA Division II World Series, UC San Diego is looking to finally win a national championship that has evaded them for so long. After a 13-2 pummeling in the first game of the series against Azusa Pacific (Cal.), the Tritons won the following two games, 6-5 and 16-5, to win the West Super Regional.

In Game 2 of the series, Azusa Pacific scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-4 lead. The Tritons responded with the game-tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the seventh. Chris Schasteen singled to left field to get on base and in the next at-bat, RJ Prince homered to left-center field to score what would be the winning run.

In the final game of the series, UC San Diego scored in seven of the nine innings to rout their opponent. Steven Schuknecht went 4-for-5 with four runs and six RBI. The Tritons pitching rotation combined for 156 pitches in the final game compared to 222 pitches for Azusa Pacific (Cal.).

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