The 2023 DII baseball regionals are in the books and 16 teams remain in the hunt for the national championship. Spoiler alert: The reigning champion North Greenville Crusaders are still alive.
However, to say there were some surprises in the regional tournaments would be an understatement. Like last year, Tampa's season came to an end at the hands of Rollins, as the Tars have moved on to the super regionals for a second consecutive year. Central Missouri, the No. 1 seed in the Central and one of the hottest teams in the country down the stretch, will not be moving on to the supers. Nor will be Illinois Springfield in a Midwest Region that saw No. 7 UIndy escape.
FOLLOW LIVE: Tournament scores and updates on the Road to Cary
Since you're wondering, I still did okay on my predictions. I got half the super regionals — the Atlantic Region, East Region, Southeast Region, and South Central Region — completely right. I had one team in the Midwest correct, one team in the West and completely missed on the South and the Central. So take that for what it's worth. Furthermore, two of my "8 for Cary" — Tampa and Central Missouri — were sent home, so we'll make an updated prediction for what the field will look like after the super regional previews below.
Atlantic Region: No.1 Millersville vs. No. 2 Seton Hill
The story here will be pitching, as Millersville and Seton Hill are both top five in DII baseball in ERA and are No. 1 and No. 2 in WHIP (Seton Hill was No. 1 with 1.18). But make no mistake, both teams have some big-time hitters that should ultimately be the difference makers.
For Seton Hill, Vincenzo Rauso is amid a nine-game hitting streak and has been particularly hot in the tournament, going 10-for-17 in the five games while scoring four runs and driving in five. Owen Sabol has also been red hot, totaling nine hits with a pair of four RBI games to help the Griffins advance. Bren Taylor has been a steady force for the Marauders all season long, but Jimmy Losh and Thomas Caufield had some big hits against West Chester to help the Marauders' — who last reached the championship series in 2016 — hopes for Cary alive.
Central Region: No. 5 Augustana (SD) vs. No. 6 Minnesota State
It's a NSIC party in the Central Super Regionals. Just looking at the seeds lets you know that this part of the bracket is a bit of a stunner. That said, Minnesota State was my sleeper to watch in the Central, and Augustana — 2018 national champs — certainly knows how to shine in May and June. Augustana swept Minnesota State earlier this season, but the Mavericks got their revenge, bumping the Vikings from the NSIC tournament.
The Vikings won consecutive games against No. 1 Central Missouri with a big start from Caleb Saari (7 IP, 1 ER, 5 K) and the bullpen clamping down in Game 2. Jack Hines has had a big season (.363, 1.009 OPS, 13 doubles, five triples, and five home runs) and had some big hits in the regional round. Minnesota State was strong in its three regionals victories, piling up 31 runs in the three wins. Jackson Hauge is scorching hot, going 8-for-17 in the tournament thus far with seven runs scored and nine runs driven in. Both lineups have some pop, and the starting pitching is deep. This should be a great showdown that goes the distance between two teams that know each other very well.
|Stats||Augustana (SD)||Minnesota State|
East Region: No.1 Southern New Hampshire vs. No. 3 Le Moyne
Rumor has it the Penmen have taken up residency in Cary, North Carolina, as they are looking for their third-straight trip to the finals and fourth in five tournaments. Okay, I may have been the one to start that rumor, but it isn't farfetched. As I mentioned in the tournament preview, the shocking loss to Bentley in the NE10 tournament fueled the fire for a very good team and the Penmen swept its way to the supers. Their starting pitching is sensational, and Jeffrey Praml sets the tone — going the distance in a one-run, six-strikeout tournament-opening win.
For Le Moyne, it's all about momentum. The Dolphins closed out the regular season with four-straight series wins, winning 14 of their last 16 games. They eked out a pair of one-run thrillers to advance to their first-ever super regionals. The last time they came this close was in 2012, when they fell to Southern New Hampshire in the regional championship. The two teams haven't faced this year, so it will be a fresh look for both. Dewey Roden (.332, 1.010 OPS, 18 doubles, 11 home runs) leads the offense, while Sam Di George pitched a pair of strong starts in the tournament, pitching seven innings of shutout baseball against Franklin-Pierce while tossing a one-run, complete game against Goldey-Beacom.
Midwest Region: No. 1 Quincy vs. No. 7 UIndy
To no one's surprise, Quincy is in the super regionals. Then you have UIndy, the No. 7 seed, and it is quite the surprise, especially emerging from a side of the bracket that had both Maryville and Illinois Springfield.
We know the story with Quincy by now. This team, now 47-9, has won 17 games in a row. Not only that, they have one of the best records in DII baseball against an absolutely stacked schedule, one that featured four tournament teams in the small non-conference schedule. This team also loves the long ball and were out-slugging opponents in the regionals to outscore them 33-11, hitting 12 homers in three games. Luke Napleton, Austin Simpson, Nolan Wosman, Gino D'Alessio, Lance Logsdon, and Dustin Dupont all have double-digit homers. That doesn't bode well for UIndy's pitching staff that has allowed 48 dingers this year. Of course, that rotation features Brady Ware, who made national headlines by hitting a cycle in the same game he threw a no-hitter. The Greyhounds swept through its early non-conference schedule, but things changed in the GLVC. Still, we've seen this team can win. Keep an eye on Drew Donaldson (.427, 1.244 OPS, 21 doubles, 10 home runs) who leads this lineup.
South Region: No. 4 Rollins vs. No. 6 Barry
The Sunshine State Conference continues its reign in the South, as two "underdogs" in seedings advance to the super regionals. I would imagine Rollins' head coach Jon Sjogren is getting plenty of phone calls from coaches around the nation asking what the secret recipe is to taking down the Spartans. Rollins has owned Tampa since last year's super regionals and the hits just keep rolling.
The two met earlier in the season and Rollins swept Barry. But Barry is riding an eight-game winning streak, and an impressive one at that, sweeping Florida Southern to close the regular season and beating nationally ranked Montevallo and West Florida (twice!) to advance to the supers. Braden Forchic leads a balanced lineup while Mike Reagan is on absolute fire for the rotation, most recently disposing of West Florida in a one-run, 15-strikeout complete game. For Rollins, honestly, who cares who does what. This ball club operates as a team and simply knows how to win, and win big-time ball games at that. That said, Jeslyn Whitehead, who was key in last year's run to Cary, had a big regional tournament, with three multi-hit games and going 8-for-19 in the four games.
South Central Region: No. 1 Angelo State vs. No. 2 Colorado Mesa
These two know plenty about the super regionals. Just going back to 2016, it has been either Colorado Mesa or the Rams winning the South Central all but once, with Angelo State looking for its third-straight appearance.
However, the Mavericks are going to be a problem. They are one of the hottest teams in DII baseball, sitting at 48-9 and winners of 20 in a row. This lineup has hit 100 home runs and stolen 100 bases, all while hitting .377 and scoring the most runs in DII baseball. Three hitters are still batting over .400 and seven players have at least seven home runs. Freshman Liam Hohenstein had a strong appearance in the regional, tossing seven, one-hit, shutout innings while striking out seven. If there is one offense that can keep up with the Mavs, it is certainly the Rams. The lineup has four everyday hitters with an OPS north of 1.000 and eight players with double-digit stolen bases, so they create havoc everywhere. Kade Bragg, Aaron Munson and Braxton Pearson are a very formidable three-man rotation, and what I believe gives the Rams a slight edge. This, as always, is the one part of the bracket I seem to always pick the wrong team (but at least get the right two to get this far every year!).
|Stats||Angelo State||Colorado Mesa|
Southeast Region: No.1 North Greenville vs. No. 3 Belmont Abbey
The defending champs are still rolling and are looking to be the first DII baseball repeat champions since Tampa went back-to-back in 2006-07. The Crusaders certainly have the pieces to do it, and a repeat would put the defining stamp on the Southeast Region as the kings of DII baseball. Three teams from the Southeast Region have gone on to win the national championship since 2018 — and let’s not forget Columbus State’s national runners-up finish just five years ago.
There's a very tall order of business ahead of them, however. I have talked about Belmont Abbey all season, and this is one of the best teams no one knows about. North Greenville does because these Crusaders knocked the champs out of the Conference Carolinas tournament early. Belmont Abbey has matched its total win record for a season and is now in its first super regional ever. The pitching isn't deep, but if Belmont Abbey can get to freshman Drew Stegura in the bullpen (6-0, 4 saves, 65 strikeouts), it has a chance. For North Greenville, well, pretty much all those pieces that helped win it all last year are the big pieces this year. Every player in the everyday lineup is hitting north of .320: John Michael Faile now owns the DII baseball record book, and newcomer David Lewis has been bananas, hitting .360 with 17 homers. If this team gets to that bullpen with a lead... well, it's a big reason these Crusaders are 47-9.
|Stats||north greenville||belmont abbey|
West Region: No 1. Cal State Monterey Bay vs. No. 2 Cal State San Bernardino
These two have been on a collision course for the super regionals pretty much since opening day. The two CCAA heavyweights split a series earlier in the season and the Otters disposed of the Yotes two games to one to claim their first CCAA tournament title in program history. Both teams are making their super regional debuts, so in a part of the country that was dominated by one team for so long (Remember the Tritons), we'll have some West Region history in Cary this year.
The Otters have a flare for the dramatic this postseason, first in that memorable battle with CSUSB in the CCAA tourney and then scoring four in the bottom of the eighth before walking it off with five runs in the bottom of the ninth, capping a monster comeback to advance to their first super regionals ever. Nico Hartojo (.397, 1/137 OPS, 11 homers) leads a pretty solid lineup, but you have to start wondering if the late-inning theatrics will eventually catch up to them. The Coyotes have been strong all season long and picked up their first NCAA tournament win in 32 years when they defeated Western Oregon. More impressive was sweeping through a very good Azusa Pacific team to advance to their first super regional. This lineup has a very nice blend of power and bat-to-ball skills and seem to always be on base manufacturing runs. With neither team incredibly deep in the pitching department, expect a lot of runs to be scored in this series.
|Stats||Cal state Monterey bay||cal state san bernardino|
8 for Cary
As I mentioned, I went 6-for-8 on my original predictions. I'm sticking with the original six, but here's how I think the supers play out.
|Region||Original 8 Projected||Current 8 predicted|
|Atlantic||Seton Hill||Seton Hill|
|Central||Central Missouri||Minnesota State|
|South Central||Angelo State||Angelo State|
|Southeast||North Greenville||North Greenville|
|West||Cal State Monterey Bay||Cal State Monterey Bay|