The 2019 DII baseball championship is down to the final two teams. Tampa and Colorado Mesa will square off at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 8, from the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know for the DII baseball championship series.
2019 DII baseball championship: How to watch
The championship series streams right here on NCAA.com. You can also find live stats and inning-by-inning updates here as well at the links provided below.
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2019 DII baseball championship: How we got here
The DII baseball tournament began on May 16 with 56 teams all starting the Road to Cary with the same goal. Sixteen double-elimination regional tournaments narrowed the field to the first-ever Super Regional portion of the bracket. Those best-of-three series decided the final eight teams that headed to Cary. We tracked the entire tournament below.
Colorado Mesa swept its way through South Central Region 1 before squaring off against Angelo State in the South Central Super Regional. Despite having to go on the road as the No. 1 seed, Colorado Mesa won two in a three-game series all decided by one-run games. That earned the Mavericks the No. 1 seed.
Tampa swept its way to Cary, first winning South Region 1 and then defeating old foe Delta State in two games in the South Super Regional. The Spartans entered Cary as the No. 2 seed.
Once in Cary, the bracket is essentially split into two double-elimination tournaments. Colorado Mesa was on one half and Tampa was on the other. Tampa has yet to lose in Cary, defeating Mercyhurst and UC San Diego before eliminating Mercyhurst in the semifinal. Colorado Mesa got off to two early victories before dropping a close one to Central Missouri. The Mavericks prevailed in the semifinals behind a complete-game shutout from closer Will Dixon.
Since Tampa is undefeated, the Spartans simply need to win the 3 p.m. game to become national champions. Colorado Mesa's path to its first-ever national championship is trickier. The Mavericks have to win the first game and the if-necessary game, too.
2019 DII baseball championship: What to know about Tampa and Colorado Mesa
The Spartans are a DII powerhouse. Their seven national titles are second to only Florida Southern and no coach has more national titles than Tampa skipper Joe Urso’s four (he won a fifth playing for his Spartans in 1992).
Tampa’s roster is littered with big-time talent, as four Spartans were selected in the MLB Draft, tied for the most of any program in 2019. Yorvis Torrealba has been on absolute fire in the leadoff spot with six hits, three runs, four RBI, and three stolen bases in the past two games since striking out three times in the opening game. Starter Keven Pimentel should get the call, having not pitched since a dominating performance in Tampa’s first game in Cary where he went seven innings and struck out eight.
Sammy Peralta has done it as a starter and out of the bullpen, appearing in relief and then the getting the victory in five strong innings in the semifinals, striking out nine and walking none. Jacinto Arredondo has been lights out in relief, pitching 5.1 scoreless innings and picking up the first two wins for Tampa of the tournament. Danny Sirven has been swinging a hot bat and Danny Blair has made a highlight reel play in every game in Cary.
While the Mavericks don’t have any national championships, head coach Chris Hanks has certainly turned Colorado Mesa into a DII baseball tournament regular. The Mavericks have had plenty of recent success, reaching the finals in 2014 and the semifinals in 2017.
Right fielder Hunter Douglas, catcher Spencer Bramwell and third baseman Caleb Farmer are in the zone at the plate, each with at least one hit in every game of the championship. Bramwell (7-for-16) and Farmer (9-for-18) have been nearly unstoppable. The Mavericks have also gotten big performances from their starting pitching. Trevin Reynolds — who also had the game-winning sacrifice fly in the semifinals — was strong in a six-inning win over NYIT, while 17-year-old Andrew Morris was equally impressive through 5.1 in the first game against Central Missouri. Perhaps no pitching performance in Cary was as dominant as Will Dixon’s semifinal clincher. Three days after setting the program mark for saves in a season, Dixon hurled a complete-game shutout in the first start of his career.
2019 DII baseball championship: Prediction
Experience vs. youth. That’s what this comes down to for both teams. Yes, the Mavericks program has tournament experience, but this team as whole does not. Five players in the regular starting lineup are sophomores and that doesn’t include young Matt Turner, who delivered a two-run hit in his lone start in Cary.
This may come down to pitching. If Tampa sends the senior righty Pimentel (12-2, 2.64 ERA, 106 strikeouts) on full rest, the Mavericks lineup will have their hands full. Especially with either freshman Andrew Morris and junior Trevin Reynolds their most likely option to counter on the mound. Again, both Morris and Reynolds are big-time pitchers, but the senior simply edges them in big-game experience, so far.
There is a lot to like about Hanks' offense. He has big hitters in the heart of his lineup with Jordan Stubbings, Farmer, and Bramwell and Douglas is so dangerous setting the table atop the order. This is also a smart team, and Hanks isn’t afraid to lay down a bunt with his cleanup hitter any less than he is with his nine-hole hitter. The Mavericks can manufacture runs better than most teams in DII baseball.
That said, Tampa is knocking the leather off the baseball right now. Since needing eight innings to get going in their opening game of the tournament, no team has been more locked in at the plate than Tampa. If the top of the order does what they did against Mercyhurst, there is nary a team that can come back from that kind of run output.
This year has an extra caveat. Usually, a one-loss team enters the finals having to play on consecutive days, but due to weather, both are well-rested coming off a full days' rest. We should see the best both teams have to offer, which should make this one of the most exciting games of the tournament. Colorado Mesa has shown the DII world they are a frightening power with the youth to sustain it for some time, but this just seems like Tampa’s year.
Prediction: Tampa wins its eighth title in a 6-4 victory over Colorado Mesa.