May 29, 2010

 

By Sara Weber

Special to NCAA.COM

The NCAA Division II National Championship features two programs that have never been to the final game.

Matchup: No. 1 University of California at San Diego Tritons (54-7) vs. No. 9 University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (51-14)
Series: First time meeting - the two teams have never met
Date/Time: Saturday, May 29 @ 12:07 PM ET first pitch
Location: USA Baseball National Training Complex, Cary, NC
TV: CBS College Sports
Play by Play: Tom Hart
Analyst: Kevin Stocker
Live Stats: http://www.moc.edu/home/dshulimson/baseballstats/XLIVE.HTM
Live Video: Click Here
NCAA National Championship brackets: INTERACTIVE | PDF

"Tri, Tri again" can be considered the mantra for the UC San Diego Tritons as they attempt to get that elusive national championship that they fell short of last year. UCSD fell in the national semi-finals last year to eventual national runner-up Emporia State, also a first-time participant in the national finals. In fact, last year's two participants in the national championship game were first-timers as well - as the upstart Lynn University Knights walked away with the 2-1 championship victory. The 2010 NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship will feature two first-timers as the Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles will battle the UCSD Tritons Saturday, May 29 on the CBS College Sports Network. USI needed to overcome some demons of their own and battle back after being dropped out of the winner's bracket by Georgia College in the national semi-finals; thus, forcing a deciding Friday re-match that they narrowly won 3-2. USI's top pitcher and third starter were suspended in regional play, which forced them to sit out four games. USI has played four games this week to advance to the national championship. USI is ecstatic they have their top pitcher ready to start the grandest game.

UCSD head coach Dan O'Brien when interviewed last month said, "When we get off the bus, we have a presence. We play with passion and care a lot about each other. We don't rely on other teams to have a bad day, we rely on each other. We have a mission to finish what was started in 2009, to win a national championship." The Tritons have carried themselves well all this week aiming for the prize. They have gotten two complete games from their All-Americans and have made a run through the winner's bracket dispatching Georgia College, 3-2, Central Missouri in eleven innings, 2-1, and Franklin Pierce, 6-3. Left fielder Aaron Bauman went 5-for-10 with an RBI and a stolen base through the three games. Shortstop Vance Albitz, the two-time national defensive player of the year, has five hits as well through 12 at-bats with a double and a stolen base. Bats came alive in the 6-3 win over Franklin Pierce as the Tritons scored their most runs in a game all week. Every Triton hitter in the lineup had at least one hit and most had two except for second baseman Grant Bauer, but Bauer chipped in a sacrifice bunt and earned an RBI. It's more than likely that UCSD will throw All-American junior righty Tim Shibuya, who started the first game of the tournament for the Tritons, when they defeated Georgia College, 3-2. The Tritons may get a complete game from Shibuya, but if he gets into trouble, they have the option of going to their other All-American senior righty Matt Rossman, who threw the complete eleven-inning victory over Central Missouri, 2-1. Rossman struck out 12 and allowed only two hits. Shibuya, their number one starter, scattered eight hits and struck out four in the opener.

Some facts:
UCSD is only in its tenth year as a Division II program.
It has never won a national championship in baseball and it has never been to the national championship game.
UCSD has 29 national championships spread out among its other sports.
The 2010 squad boasts six All-Americans
Coach O'Brien played and graduated (1995) from the school he now coaches.
First baseman Brandon Gregorich is currently batting .448 on the season.
UCSD has set the school record for wins in a season with 54.
UCSD has not lost since May 8...they have won seven straight games including the CCAA title, the NCAA West region title, and they are undefeated this week in Cary.

Insightful Quotes:
"It's really different this year. I feel like we have been in the driver's seat all week. Regardless of Saturday being a single elimination or double elimination, I still think our guys will show up and be in the driver's seat We don't play poor baseball in back-to-back games. I see us playing our best baseball on Saturday."
- Head Coach Dan O'Brien, UCSD

"Unbelievable, I couldn't be happier. We are fortunate to be on top." That is what Southern Indiana head coach Tracy Archuleta said after his team defeated Georgia College on Friday to advance to the team's first national championship game appearance. The Screaming Eagles are no strangers to adversity and they have encountered their fair share of issues throughout the regional and here this week as they remained in the winner's bracket from bracket two up until Thursday's first semi-final loss to Georgia College, 3-0. That loss dropped them to the loser's bracket and a rematch with the Bobcats, which was won Friday, 3-2. Southern Indiana's ace junior righty Trevor Leach and third starter junior righty Dan Marcacci were serving four-game suspensions incurred during the regional. The best possible scenario turned out for Leach as he will be the starter in the national championship game. Leach is 11-1 with a 3.00 ERA. He has 68 strikeouts through 105 innings pitched. The Screaming Eagles played four games this week and the fifth will be the title match. Third baseman Wes Fink is 6-for-13 with a homerun and six RBI. He hit one of only seven homeruns hit all week. Southern Indiana started the week off by defeating Minnesota State, 8-6, the only game at the time that had over ten runs scored by both teams. They then stayed in the winner's bracket by sending Kutztown to the loser's bracket, 7-1, another game with more than five runs. That is the only game this week with the largest margin of victory (6). The semi-finals had to be played twice as Georgia College bested the Eagles on Thursday, 3-0 and forced the deciding game for Friday.

Some facts:
USI has only been to the national semi-finals once where they lost to eventual national champion Tampa in 2007
It has never won a national championship in baseball and it has never been to the national championship game.
Trevor Leach can break the record for wins in a season with another victory. He has 11 this season, which is a record he set last season.
USI has broken the record for wins in a season with 51.
Senior Wandy Rosario is the closer and the shortstop, a situation he enjoys.
USI is the GLVC West Division champs, the GLVC tourney champs and the Midwest region champs
USI is 17-2 through their last 19 games including the one loss to Grand Valley State in the regional and the one loss to Georgia College on Thursday in Cary.

Insightful Quotes:
"This club from the conference tournament right up through the regional and this tournament, they have had a chip on their shoulder. Not having two players in the dugout with us and that made us re-focus. Very fortunate today?they played with a lot of passion for each other. And now Trevor gets the ball tomorrow and let it stand wherever it is."
--Head Coach Tracy Archuleta, Southern Indiana

Complete Games Are the Trend...
Through thirteen games seven pitchers have thrown complete games. Through the last ten years, we know that the record is eight in 2001. Central Missouri's All-American Brooks Martin threw a complete game shutout in game one against Tampa, 3-0. That was followed in the nightcap by UCSD pitcher Tim Shibuya, a second-team All American, and Georgia College pitcher Martin Dewald, a third-team All-American, both throwing complete games which UCSD won 3-2. UCSD pitcher Matt Rossman, second-team All-American, continued the trend on day three by throwing a complete eleven-inning game against Central Missouri, which UCSD won 2-1 that propelled them into the semi-finals Thursday night. Franklin Pierce's Mike Adams added his own complete game in eliminating Minnesota State on Tuesday, 6-2. He threw a complete nine innings scattering six hits and allowing only two runs while striking out five. In the nightcap, Southern Indiana pitcher Josh Schultze also threw a complete game propelling the Screaming Eagles into the semi-finals Thursday. Southern Indiana sent Kutztown to the loser's bracket, 7-1, the largest margin of victory in the tournament so far. Schultze scattered eight hits allowing only one run while striking out six. Georgia College's Martin Dewald also threw a second complete game on Thursday in the 3-0 defeat of Southern Indiana, the only pitcher this week to throw two complete games.

Homeruns a Few...
There have only been only seven homeruns hit through thirteen games with six coming only in the last three days. The hitters say the sunshine helps. Only one of the players that hit a homerun this week is left.