|Wartburg was 13 of 14 going into the IIAC tounament only to lose to tounament champion Luther twice.
Wartburg athletics photo
Follow this regional
May 20: All times Eastern
Rose-Hulman 8, at UW-Whitewater 0Video | Video | Box Score | Recap | Photos
May 21: All times Eastern
UW-Whitewater 11, at Rose-Hulman 0Video | Video | Box Score | Photos
By Zach Kram l
The Central doesn’t boast the strongest bracket in the tournament field, with only two of the region’s teams slotting in the D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25. But that doesn’t mean the field is lacking in quality, as the Sauget Regional will feature play from two of the nation’s best run-prevention outfits as well as two of its highest-scoring ones.
Look for a new face to advance to the national quarterfinals from the Central, as regional No. 1 North Central (Ill.) “traded” regions with UW-Whitewater for this year’s tournament and Central stalwart Webster failed to qualify for the postseason entirely. UW-Whitewater will be the only team in Sauget to have reached the College World Series in the last decade, so programs throughout the regional could be in store for some landmark performances.
UW-Whitewater returns to the tournament fold just two years after sweeping through the College World Series. Wartburg seeks to improve from last year, when the Knights’ bats went cold in the postseason. Augustana upset North Central en route to a CCIW tournament title. Washington U. snuck in to the tournament field with a surprise at-large bid. And Rose-Hulman and Westminster (Mo.) enter the regional as fresh faces, with both teams looking to cap their dream seasons with a little May magic.
Sauget Regional schedule
Wednesday, May 18
Game 1 - No. 1 UW-Whitewater (29-14) vs. No. 6 Westminster (28-13), 12 p.m.
Game 2 - No. 2 Wartburg (33-11) vs. No. 5 Rose-Hulman (29-11), 3:30 p.m.
Game 3 - No. 3 Augustana (30-12) vs. No. 4 Washington U. (31-16), 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 19
Game 4 - Westminster (Mo.) vs. Wartburg, 11 a.m.
Game 5 - UW-Whitewater vs. Augustana, 2:30 p.m.
Game 6 - Rose-Hulman vs. Washington (Mo.), 6 p.m.
Friday, May 20
Game 7 - Rose-Hulman vs. UW-Whitewater, 11 a.m.
Game 8 - Wartburg vs. Washington (Mo.), 2:30 p.m.
Game 9 - Washington (Mo.) vs. UW-Whitewater, 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 21
Game 10 - Rose-Hulman vs. UW-Whitewater, 2 p.m.
Game 11 - UW-Whitewater vs. Rose-Hulman, 5 p.m.
Meet the teams in the Central Regional
This region looks like a toss-up between UW-Whitewater and Wartburg. In the national rankings, the teams are separated by just one position, and both rely on pitching, with UW-Whitewater ranking fifth in Division III in team ERA (2.80) and Wartburg 15th (3.07). But the two teams have played at different levels of late—since starting the season with a 14-1 record, the Warhawks have played to a middling 15-13 mark, while the Knights ran up a 14-game winning streak that didn’t end until their conference tournament. Wartburg brings a balanced lineup and top-notch defense (.966 fielding percentage) to Sauget, and the Knights are slight favorites to advance to the College World Series.
Most likely to disappoint
Top-seeded UW-Whitewater is mired in a team-wide slump and hasn’t won consecutive games away from home in a month. Included in the Warhawks’ recent swoon are losses in five of six games against UW-La Crosse, and while no team in the Central regional is as good as the Eagles, that record against their only tournament-quality opponent doesn’t bode well for Whitewater this weekend. UW-Whitewater’s pitching will keep it in every game, but considering the program’s recent postseason success, failing to advance out of a winnable regional would be disappointing for the Warhawk faithful.
The D3baseball.com experts didn’t expect Washington U. to make the tournament field, but here are the Bears, fresh off a hot late-season run that propelled Pat Bloom’s crew into a postseason appearance and relatively friendly draw. Behind a robust .415 team on-base percentage, the Bears’ offense plates runs in bunches (more than eight per game), meaning a regional final could pit their unstoppable force against the immovably stingy pitchers from UW-Whitewater or Wartburg. In their program history, the Bears have never won more than a single game in any NCAA tournament, but Washington could surprise in some slugfests in Sauget. By that reasoning, meanwhile, don’t sleep on Westminster, in the program’s first tournament appearance since 2001. The Blue Jays ranked second in the country in runs per game this season, albeit against relatively weak competition in the SLIAC.
Players to Watch
C John Swiderski, Augustana (.337, 42 R, 36 RBI, 56 H, 6 HR)
1B Nick Cessna, Westminster (.335, 37 R, 37 RBI, 52 H, 18 extra-base hits)
2B Ben Browdy, Washington (.356, 33 R, 71 RBI, 69 H, 16 2B)
SS Austin Darmawan, Washington (.408, 58 R, 37 RBI, 84 H, 31 SB, .475 on-base)
3B Cal Aldridge, UW-Whitewater (.396, 30 R, 33 RBI, 61 H, .466 on-base)
OF Tanner Branneky, Westminster (.360, 43 R, 43 RBI, 10 HR, 14 2B, .699 Slg.)
OF Patrick Klima, Rose-Hulman (.346, 37 R, 33 RBI, 56 H, 16 2B)
OF Christian Santos, Washington (.381, 38 R, 39 RBI, 59 H, 15 SB)
OF Jacob Thumann, Wartburg (.353, 38 R, 32 RBI, 11 HR, 14 2B, .686 Slg.)
SP Lake Bachar, UW-Whitewater (6-5, 2.84 ERA, 69.2 IP, 81 K, 15 BB)
SP Tanner Eckhart, Wartburg (3-0, 1.49 ERA, 54.1 IP, .202 opp. avg.)
SP Deion Hughes, Westminster (12-1, 1.95 ERA, 83 IP, 85 K, 22 BB)
SP Curtis Morgan, UW-Whitewater (5-2, 2.12 ERA, 63.2 IP, 50 K, 13 BB)
SP Walter White, Augustana (8-1, 2.07 ERA, 82.2 IP, 104 K, .208 opp. avg.)
RP Heath Renz, UW-Whitewater (6-0, 2.42 ERA, 44.2 IP, 35 K, 8 BB)
RP Cody Sunderhaus, Rose-Hulman (1-1, 0.00 ERA, 15.1 IP, 5 saves, 18 K, 3 BB)