CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University baseball team left campus early Wednesday morning, making the close-to-seven hour bus trip down to York, Pa., for the Mid-Atlantic Regional of the 2018 NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament, with action scheduled to begin Thursday, May 17.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional, co-hosted by the Middle Atlantic Conferences, York Revolution, and Sport York, will take place at PeoplesBank Park in York, Pa., home of the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League. On the first day of the tournament, Castleton, the eighth seed in the regional, will face top seed Rowan at 1:15 p.m.
The Spartans enter the tournament with a 30-10 overall record, the team's fourth straight 30-win season and sixth year with 30 or more wins since 2010. Castleton is making its eighth appearance in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament, including its fifth in a row, and has posted a 4-14 record in its previous national tournament contests.
As a team, Castleton has shown patience at the plate, as the Spartans are currently tied for 37th in Division III with 200 walks. Davis Mikell leads the way with 33 walks, 35th in the country, as he has posted a .526 on-base percentage, currently 23rd in Division III. On the mound, Joe Gratton has earned eight victories, tied for 26th in the country, leading a pitching staff that once again owns the best ERA in the conference at 3.85.
Rowan moved up to second nationally in both the NCBWA/D3Baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball polls with a 33-9 overall record after winning the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament championship. The Profs have won 17 of their last 22 games dating back to the second game of a doubleheader against Montclair State April 8.
Rowan's success starts with its pitching, as the Profs are fourth in the country in both earned run average (2.72) and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (7.13). Danny Serreino, coming into the tournament at 7-2, leads the country individually in fewest hits allowed per nine innings at 3.71, plus he is third in WHIP (0.81) and fourth in ERA (1.02). Andrew DiPiazza is 7-1 overall as well as 19th in fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.74), 22nd in ERA (1.52), and 25th in strikeouts per nine innings (11.81).
Offensively, Anthony Harrold leads the Profs with a .388 batting average and five home runs, while Dillon Mendel is batting .376 with 65 hits, including 14 doubles, six triples, and two home runs, and 36 RBI. Monny Strickland has driven in a team-high 39 runs, and Dan Shane has drawn 39 walks and stolen 25 bases.
It is believed that Castleton and Rowan have played each other just once before, over 54 years ago on April 1, 1964 at Rowan, with the Profs defeating the Spartans, 7-3. Rowan is making its 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament with a record of 60-46, including national titles in 1978 and 1979.
In its second game Friday, May 18, Castleton will face either fourth seed Virginia Wesleyan or fifth seed Misericordia. Virginia Wesleyan received an at-large berth into the tournament after losing in the semifinal of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament in extra innings to Roanoke, dropping its record to 28-14. Misericordia won the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Tournament title by sweeping DeSales on the final day, improving to 31-12 overall. According to available documents, Castleton is 0-5 against Virginia Wesleyan all-time and has never faced Misericordia.
On the other side of the bracket are four conference tournament winners: second seed Babson from the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, third seed Arcadia from the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth, sixth seed Union out of the Liberty League, and seventh seed Catholic from the Landmark Conference. As best as can be determined, Castleton has never faced Arcadia, is 0-1 against Babson, has one win in three games against Union, and is 2-0 against Catholic.
Besides Castleton and Rowan, here are the NCAA past results for the other teams in the regional:
Babson – 4th appearance, 5-6
Arcadia – 3rd appearance, 3-4
Virginia Wesleyan – 9th appearance, 10-16
Misericordia – 8th appearance, 9-14
Union – 3rd appearance, 0-4
Catholic – 3rd appearance, 1-4
Links to live stats and live video, along with other tournament information, can be found on the Mid-Atlantic Regional website: http://gomacsports.com/sports/2018/2/2/2018NCAABSBREGIONAL.aspx?path=baseball.