|Tanner Wilt finished a quarter of the games he started as the ace of the La Roche pitching staff.
La Roche athletics photo
Follow this regional
By Aaron Brezel
For all the parity that tournament-style collegiate baseball can foster, the Mideast region will in all likelihood be a two-team race. No. 12 La Roche and No. 2 Randolph-Macon enter the tournament as the undisputed first and second seed, each ascending with their own brand of competitive baseball.
The Redhawks powered their way from the fringe to the top-15 with a 0.542 team slugging percentage and 52 home runs; the Yellowjackets pushed themselves into the top five by competing in just about every major statistical category – except home runs. Beyond these two teams, it’s a step down into the next tier. Wooster, The College of New Jersey, Ohio Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, St. Joseph’s (L.I.) and Widener round out seeds three through eight, each sporting a strong overall record but with struggles against ranked opponent. La Roche and Randolph-Macon will compete for supremacy and the rest will compete to surprise at Washington and Jefferson University starting May 18.
Washington Regional schedule
Wednesday, May 18
Game 1 - No. 4 TCNJ (30-10) vs. No. 5 Ohio Wesleyan (27-14), 10 a.m.
Game 2 - No. 1 La Roche (36-9) vs. No. 8 Widener (24-16-1), 1:15 p.m.
Game 3 - No. 3 Wooster (34-11) vs. No. 6 Johns Hopkins (28-13-2), 4:30 p.m.
Game 4 - No. 2 Randolph-Macon (32-6-1) vs. No. 7 St. Joseph's, L.I. (24-11), 7:45 p.m.
Thursday, May 19
Game 5 - Ohio Wesleyan vs. Widener, 10 a.m.
Game 6 - St. Joseph's (L.I.) vs. Johns Hopkins, 1:15 p.m.
Game 7 - La Roche vs. TCNJ, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8 - Wooster vs. Randolph-Macon, 7:45 p.m.
Friday, May 20
Game 9 - St. Joseph's (L.I.) vs. TCNJ, 10 a.m.
Game 10 - Widener vs. Wooster, 1:15 p.m.
Game 11 - La Roche vs. Randolph-Macon, 4:30 p,m.
Saturday, May 21
Game 12 - Wooster vs. TCNJ, 10 am.
Game 13 - La Roche vs. Wooster, 4:45 p.m.
Game 14 - Randolph-Macon vs. La Roche, 9 p.m.
Saturday, May 22
Game 15 - Randolph-Macon vs. La Roche, 11:30 a.m.
La Roche advances
With as much success as the Redhawks and Yellow Jackets have had, one big hit or one big strikeout could mean the difference between a trip to the world series and a long bus ride home. That being said, the nod has to go to the Redhawks, who will have momentum on their side heading into regionals. La Roche slugged five home runs in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament and hit a scalding 0.401 as a team in their last four games. Even the Redhawks pitching staff, usually an afterthought, has pitched to a 2.00 ERA in the same amount of time. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets haven’t played since May 1. That kind of latency bodes ill for a tournament where you have to hit the ground running.
Most likely to disappoint
Ohio Wesleyan still managed to secure an at large bid to the tournament despite getting swept out of the North Coast Athletic Conference in two games by Wooster and Denison. In those two games, the normally sharp Bishop bats hit a very cold 0.234 and managed just one extra base hit. This was a sharp drop-off for a team that entered the weekend with a 0.353 team batting average, good enough for second in Division III. If the bats can’t recover on an even bigger stage, look for Ohio Wesleyan to make an early exit from the tournament.
If we’re sticking with a theme of momentum this week, sixth seeded Johns Hopkins has the best chance to pull a surprise upset. The Blue Jays’ pitching staff has held opponents to three runs or less in six of their last seven outings, dropping their ERA from 4.30 to 3.92. However, if Hopkins wants to keep pace with teams like La Roche and Randolph-Macon, their bats will have to follow suit after hovering around a pedestrian 0.290 in the second half of the season. One stat the Blue Jays will have on their side is their 44 home runs, good enough for a fourth-place tie at the top of Division III. With a little bit of luck, one big swing could change the Mideast playoff landscape.
Players to Watch
C Aaron Caputo, Ohio Wesleyan (.376, 35 R, 9 2B, 46 RBI, 20 BB, 10 K, .516 SLG)
1B Travis Lodge, Randolph-Macon (.453, 36 R, 11 2B, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 27 BB, .558 OBP, .867 SLG)
1B Jaime Lackner, Wooster (.418, 45 R, 12 2B, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 43 BB, .562 OBP, .614 SLG)
2B Raul Shah, Johns Hopkins (.376, 35 R, 14 2B, 5 HR, 39 RBI, .573 SLG)
SS Micheal Wielanski, Wooster (.392, 56 R, 17 2B, 5 3B, 7 HR, 51 RBI, .474 OBP, .665 SLG)
3B David Lemley, La Roche (.336, 33 R, 10 2B, 9 HR, 43 RBI, .635 SLG)
OF Luis Navedo, La Roche (.427, 40 R, 16 2B, 9 HR, 35 RBI, .527 OBP, .829 SLG)
OF Corey Lazor, La Roche (.400, 50 R, 14 2B, 9 3B, 6 HR, 48 RBI, .686 SLG)
OF C.J. Tosino, Ohio Wesleyan (.403, 43 R, 13 2B, 27 RBI, .470 OBP, .583 SLG)
OF Rick Spiers, Randolph-Macon (.403, 33 R, 9 2B, .458 OBP, 14 SB)
DH Nick Maiolo, Randolph-Macon (.361, 35 R, 11 2B, 6 HR, 35 RBI, .594 SLG)
SP Tanner Wilt, La Roche (8-2, 1.22 ERA, 4 CGSHO, 73.2 IP, 41 H, 95 K, 17 BB, .160 AVG)
SP Josh Lafferty, Widener (8-2, 1.98 ERA, 5 CG, 72.2 IP, 63 H, 51 K, .237 AVG)
SP James Walsh, Randolph-Macon (9-0, 2.24 ERA, 80.1 IP, 67 H, 82 K, .218 AVG)
SP Ryn Aloise, St. Joseph's, L.I. (7-2, 2.32 ERA, 62 IP, 54 H, 51 K)
SP Regis Sauer, La Roche (8-0, 2.78 ERA, 2 CG, 68 IP, 37 K, 8 BB, .247 AVG)
SP Nick Phelps, Randolph-Macon (3-1, 2.67 ERA, 54 IP, 54 H, 43 K, 9 BB, .258 AVG)
SP Michael Houduk, Wooster (9-2, 3.00 ERA, 81 IP, 66 H, 63 K, .228 AVG)
RP Matt Curry, New Jersey (1.56 ERA, 17.1 IP, 9 SV, 15 K, .188 AVG)
RP Shane Emrich, La Roche (12 IP, 0 ER, 13 K, .174 AVG)
RP Patrick Solomita, Randolph-Macon (1.50 ERA, 18 IP, 15 H, 14 K, 6 BB, .231 AVG)