Division III weekend preview
McMurry looks to continue run at ASC tournament
American Southwest Tournament
McMurry still has a chance to win the American Southwest Conference tournament championship. Never mind that it won only 15 games during the regular season or that it had to get past Texas-Tyler, the fifth-ranked team in the nation at the time, to keep those title hopes alive.
The War Hawks (17-15) had faith, though, and after beating Tyler 6-4 (13 innings) and 5-4 in the opening-round series, they will continue their quest for the crown this weekend in Dallas against Concordia (Texas) in the double-elimination championship round.
McMurry is taking aim at its fifth title in program history.
"I wasn’t surprised we defeated Tyler,” McMurry head coach John Byington said. “Our guys were very focused going into the tournament.”
Senior Jake Mullin leads McMurry with a .367 batting average. He has tallied 51 hits and has driven in 31 runs. Matt Thompson has been an extra-base machine. The junior has hit eight doubles, seven triples and has smashed six home runs en route to driving in 36 runs. Thompson is hitting .327 while junior Brian Durst has doubled eight times and has tallied 24 RBI.
The pitching staff has been anchored by Spencer Smith, who owns a 3.38 ERA and is 5-1 on the season. Smith has recorded 34 strikeouts. Senior Michael Dibiasi is 3-1 with a .304 ERA. He has 19 strikeouts and has issued only eight walks.
Concordia, the co-champions of the West Division, advanced here with a 2-1 series win against Louisiana College. Concordia fell 3-1 in the opener but has been on a roll since, winning 19-9 and 10-0 to win the series.
Concordia (27-15) is seeking only its second title in school history, the first coming in 2002. The Tornados actually played McMurry in 2008 for the conference tourney title but lost in the championship game.
Pitching has been crucial to the success of the Tornados.
Sophomore Colin Butschek and senior Pedro Maldonado have led the way on the hill. Butschek is 7-3 and owns a 3.76 ERA. Maldonado was named the league pitcher of the week twice in the final three weeks of the season and has a 4.48 ERA. He has registered a team-best 72 strikeouts as well.
Junior Scott Hays started three games in April and did not allow an earned run during that stretch. The Tornados have also been tough offensively, batting .308 as a team, and six batters are hitting .299 or better.
“Concordia is a good team,” Byington said. “We will have to polay fundamental baseball and execute to beat them.”
Texas-Dallas and Hardin-Simmons will battle in the other matchup on Friday and are both seeking their first ever conference tournament title.
Championship: May 9
Commonwealth Coast Conference
Ryan Dudzinski will attempt to lead Western New England to a Commonwealth Coast Conference championship this weekend after being named the top player in the league earlier this week.
Dudzinski has flat out torn it up on the diamond this season. He is hitting .449 in 22 league games and has scored 26 runs to go along with nine doubles.
Dudzinski, a senior, batted .449 in 22 conference contests, and scored 26 runs with nine doubles and three triples, helping the Golden Bears win 33 games and earn the top spot in the league tournament. The Golden Bears lived up to the hype in their tourney opener, knocking off Colby-Sawyer 8-5, and advance to play Wentworth today.
Championship: May 8
Landmark Conference Tournament
Scranton has momentum on its side at the right time and should be one of the teams to watch in the Landmark Conference tournament this weekend.
The Royals have won 14 of ther last 16 games, and are back in the league tourney for the first time since 2008. Not bad for a team that lost eight of nine at one point this season.
The Royals are 22-16 overall and hit their stride soon enough to nail down the second seed in the tournament. They will battle Catholic in the opening round on Saturday at Gillespie Field in Bethlehem, Pa. The championship game will be played on Monday.
Moravian (30-7), which has won its last 14 games, is the top seed in the tournament. Senior David Giglio has stepped up big for the Royals this season. He is hitting .380 and has knocked in a team-high 48 runs. Jeff Manahan has also been effective at bringing runners across the plate. The senior has 23 RBI and is hitting .338 with four home runs.
Junior Rocky Sawyer is 6-3 with a 2.03 ERA and has rung up 56 strikeouts on the season to pace the pitching staff.
Championship: May 9
New England Collegiate Conference
Mitchell College is the top seed in the NECC and the Mariners (19-8-1) are hoping to end up as the last team standing when the tournament ends on Sunday in New London, Conn.
Southern Vermont (16-20) will be the first opponent for the Mariners, who have dropped three of their last five games after piecing together an eight-game win streak.
The Mariners are hitting .367 as a team and junior John Apostolo has been vital to the offensive success. He is hitting .527 this season and has 48 RBI. Apostolo has crushed 9 home runs.
Apostolo isn’t bad on the mound either, winning eight games and losing only once. He has allowed a total of 31 runs and has 68 strikeouts while walking only 20 batters. Apostolo will be counted on to step up in the tourney for a pitching staff that has a 5.31 ERA.
Anthony Santiago, who recently took home another rookie of the week honor, is batting .409 with 10 doubles. He also has 19 RBI.
Championship: May 8