Saturday, May 18, 2024

College baseball: Centenary to face ETBU in NCAA Tournament opener

by Russell Hedges
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By Patrick S. Meehan, Centenary College Assistant Athletic Director/Strategic Communications

Centenary will face the East Texas Baptist University Tigers in the 2024 NCAA Division III Championship this weekend, it was announced on Monday.

Claremont-M-S (30-13) and Concordia (27-16) will join Centenary and ETBU in the regional at Tiger Ballpark at Woods Field. The tournament begins on Friday. Game times will be announced soon.

The Diamond Gents (23-18) won the 2024 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship on May 6 in Cleburne, Texas after defeating the Texas Lutheran Bulldogs by a score of 9-5 to earn the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers (36-8) were dominant this season in the American Southwest Conference Tournament, going 23-1.

The NCAA Championship berth is Centenary’s third all-time after appearing in the 2017 event in Tyler, Texas where the Diamond Gents went 1-2 and the 2022 tournament where the Maroon and White went 0-3 against the LaGrange College Panthers in LaGrange, Ga.

The Diamond Gents completed a memorable run through the loser’s bracket in Cleburne by winning three-straight elimination games over three days to win their second SCAC tournament title in three years after claiming the title in 2022. The Diamond Gents opened the SCAC Tournament with a 6-4 victory over Southwestern University, then fell 5-2 to TLU in their second contest. Centenary then responded with a 7-6 win over No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Trinity University that eliminated the Tigers and outlasted TLU 10-8 in 11 innings to force a decisive winner-take-all game.

The NCAA tournament starts with 16 regionals at school sites with each winner playing a super-regional best of three series to determine the eight teams who will advance to the D-III World Series to be held at Classic Auto Group Park, Eastlake, Ohio. This suburb of Cleveland will be the seventh site to host the D-III World Series since the tournament started in 1976.

The playoff field consists of 60 teams. Forty-one (39) Pool A bids will be awarded to conference automatic qualifiers through May 15th. On May 16, the national selection committee decides who gets the two Pool B and 19 Pool C at-large bids. 

Regional Sites: Friday-Sunday, May 17-19 (Thursday-Saturday, May 16-18 if there is a Sunday no-play) – 60 teams, 14 regionals with four teams (double elimination), two regionals with two teams (best of five series)

Super Regionals: Friday-Saturday, May 24-25 – 16 teams, eight super regionals with two teams (best of three series)

Finals: Friday-Thursday, May 31-June 6 (Eight Teams). Site-Hosted by: Classic Auto Group Park, Eastlake, Ohio; Co-hosted by the North Coast Athletic Conference and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

D-III World Series format: The D-III World Series format has two four-team double-elimination pools with the winner of each pool meeting in a best-of-three series. This year, the schedule adds a practice day between Pod play and the Championship Series.

Centenary is one of the nation’s top offensive teams as they rank 91st in the country in batting average (.310), are tied for 42nd in hits (442) and boast a .405 on-base percentage and a .414 slugging %. with 20 home runs. Centenary, which has eight players hitting .300 or better, averages 7.1 runs per game, and have scored 10+ runs in a game 15 times this season and have posted at least 10 hits in a game 27 times.

Nine Diamond Gents were named All-SCAC headlined by freshman 1B Alex Miller (Cypress, Texas) being named Freshman of the Year and seven players made the SCAC All-Tournament Team. Miller, who also earned Second Team all-SCAC honors, is the third consecutive Centenary player to win the honor.

Sophomore LHP Cody Myers (Friendswood, Texas) had a sensational sophomore season as he established himself as the team’s ace and one of the league’s and country’s top pitchers, finishing an impressive 10-3 with a 2.13 ERA in 15 appearances and 12 starts with a team-leading three complete games. Myers allowed just 26 runs (21 earned) and 79 hits in 88.2 IP with a 1.18 WHIP and 8.73 K/9. For the season, he walked only 26 while striking out 86 batters. Myers tied for third in wins, 27th in strikeouts, and ranked 34th nationally in ERA, had an ERA under 1.00 for the majority of the season and ranked in the top 10 in the conference in IP and opposing batting average. Myers was named to the SCAC All-Tournament Team as he made three appearances for the Diamond Gents and picked up a pair of wins, one in a starting role and one in relief.

Centenary head coach Mike Diaz moved into third-place all-time in conference history with 144 SCAC regular-season wins with a win on April 20. Diaz, now in his 14th season at the helm, became the all-time winningest coach in program history last season with his 292nd win on April 16, 2023 at home versus Schreiner University and is now 314-226-1, having passed former HC Ed McCann (1999-2010) for the all-time wins mark. He won his 300th game on Feb. 13 in Centenary’s season-opening win over Rhodes College.

See the complete Diamond Gents’ season schedule here: https://www.gocentenary.com/sports/bsb/2023-24/schedule

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