Division II weekend preview
Mount Olive meets Catawba while GVSU heads to Detroit
Mount Olive is playing for more than just a few wins this weekend when it battles Catawba in a three-game series between nationally ranked teams at Scarborough Field.
The No. 2 Trojans will take on the No. 11 Indians in a showdown that could determine who hosts the Southeast Regional. Catawba is currently second in the region. Mount Olive is atop the region.
“At this point in the season, every game becomes more important than the last,” Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster said. “Both teams have had exceptional years, and each of us coaches have high expectations for our players. With the regional so close, we need to see a team of Catawba’s caliber to prepare us for the tough road ahead.”
The Trojans (35-6) won their fifth Conference Carolinas tournament championship in the last six seasons earlier this month and have rattled off six consecutive wins. They are batting .352 as a team, with senior Jason Simone and junior Jacob Rogers paving tallying 53 and 56 hits, respectively. Simone is batting .427 and Rogers is hitting .415.
Junior Michael Knox his batting .366 and is the team leader in RBI (46). The Trojans have been tough defensively as well, owning a .965 fielding percentage. Sophomore Cater Capps has been the top pitcher, fashioning a 9-0 record, allowing only 53 hits and striking out 83.
The Indians (39-10) fell short of a third consecutive Southern Athletic Conference tournament championship last weekend and will be eager to bounce back.
Freshman sensation Chris Dula has played an integral role in the success of the offense, hitting .395 and driving in a team-best 58 runs. He has racked up 20 doubles and has also scored 47 runs while knocking in 51 runs. Garrett Furr has belted 10 home runs and is hitting .311. The sophomore has scored 36 times and has tallied 51 RBI.
Junior JJ Jankowski and sophomore Nick Lomascolo have been the anchors of the pitching staff. They both have eight wins and have combined to give up 62 runs. Jankowski has struck out 102 batters while Lomascolo has retired 85 batters on strikeouts.
Lancaster knows his team will have its hands full against the Indians.
“They have one of the most respected programs in the country and they will give us all we can handle,” Lancaster said. “If we are going to have success against them, we will have to take care of the ball defensively and not waste opportunities to score runners when we have them.”
Schedule -- April 30: Doubleheader, 4 p.m.; May 1: 1 p.m.
Grand Valley at Wayne State (Mich.)
The Lakers are once again the most dominant team in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but there is no question that the third-ranked team in the nation and top team in the Midwest Region will be tested on a trip to the Motor City this weekend to take on the Warriors.
GVSU (35-3, 24-1 GLIAC) is riding a 15-game win streak and has allowed one run or less in eight of those games behind a pitching staff with a 2.43 ERA and a defense that has committed only 47 errors.
Junior Kyle Schepel is 7-0 on the year and has struck out 48 while allowing just 34 hits. Freshman Bill Maple and junior Ryan Garman have each won six games, with Maple giving up only four runs in 30 innings pitched. Steve Anderson has fueled an offense that has put 325 runs on the board. The junior is hitting .409 with 43 RBI.
The Warriors (26-11, 18-7), ranked fourth in the Midwest Region this week, are still battling for a spot in the NCAA tournament and will look to slow down the Lakers with a pitching staff that has giving up 131 runs. Junior Josh Wedesky has led the way, fashioning an 8-0 record and 3.40 ERA. He has 38 strikeouts. Senior Brett Shankin is 6-1 with a 1.63 ERA and 44 strikeouts. The Warriors have a team ERA of 3.33.
Schedule -- April 30: Doubleheader, 1 p.m.; May 1: Doubleheader, noon.
UC San Diego at Chico State
UC San Diego will put its nine-game win streak on the line this weekend when it battles Chico State in a four-game series between two of the best teams in the country.
The seventh-ranked Tritons will be battling the 20th-ranked Wildcats for first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
UCSD (30-12, 21-11) has won its last three games by a combined score of 45-4 and have cranked out 52 hits during that impressive span. Nick La Face has been a key to the success of the Tritons as of late. He has hit safely in 11 of the last 13 games and has a five-game hitting streak. La Face, a red shirt freshman, is batting .385 and has hit 10 doubles.
The Tritons will likely count on reliever Elias Tuma to step up as well. The junior has a 1.19 ERA in 19 appearances, the most in the league, has recorded saves in four of his last five outings. He has a total of nine saves in his career, five shy of tying the school record.
The Wildcats (27-10, 21-9) are in first place in the league and are batting .302 as a team. Adrian Bingas has played a prominent role in the offensive success, batting .405 with 25 RBI. He is the top hitter in the CCAA. Nick Baker has been the Wildcats’ top gun on the mound. Baker is 7-1 with a 3.05 ERA.
Chico State played its first 16 league games on the road and is tough at home, winning 12 of its 15 games at Nettleton Stadium.
Schedule -- April 29: 6 p.m.; April 30: Doubleheader, noon; May 1: 11 a.m.