SUNY Cortland Red Dragons (39-7-1) vs. Kean University Cougars (37-10)
Friday, May 25, 1:15 p.m.
The State University of New York at Cortland Red Dragons were the No. 1 seed in the New York Regional. They earned their trip to the College World Series by defeating the Regional’s No. 2 seed, Farmingdale State College, 2-1. The Red Dragons averaged five runs per game in the Regional.
Coming into this Round 1 contest, Cortland has won 22 games in a row. The team has already played two other teams in the World Series this season: Wheaton College (Mass.) and Christopher Newport University (Va.), winning and losing those games, respectively.
One SUNY Cortland hitter to look out for is senior second baseman Matt June. The lefty is hitting .361 with 32 RBIs and 11 doubles. SUNY Cortland was runner-up in the College World Series in 2010 and 2005 and is currently ranked second in collegiate baseball.
Kean University (N.J.) has made only one appearance in the College World Series. But the Cougars made it count, as they won it all in 2007. Kean was the No. 2 seed in the Mid-Atlantic Regional and punched its ticket to Appleton, Wis., by winning 6-4 over Ramapo College.
The Cougars have won 10 straight, thanks in part to senior left-hander Ryan Zamorski, who is 9-1 with a 1.02 ERA in 2012. Kean is currently 11th in the NCAA collegiate baseball rankings.
University of St. Thomas Tommies (38-8) vs. Christopher Newport University Captains (34-8)
Friday, May 25, 4:30 p.m.
The University of St. Thomas baseball team doesn’t have to travel very far from its home in Minnesota to make it to Appleton. The Tommies won the Midwest Regional championship over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 10-6.
Junior designated hitter Dylan Thomas had five RBIs in that game. Sophomore starting pitcher Steve Maher has 11 wins on the season with an ERA of 2.18. St. Thomas is sixth in the NCAA rankings. The Tommies won it all in 2009 and 2001 and were back-to-back runners-up in 1999 and 2000.
Christopher Newport and Webster University have a brief history — the Gorloks upset the No. 1-ranked Captains in an NCAA Regional tournament game last year.
The Captains won the South Regional championship handily over Salisbury University, 12-3. Junior relief pitcher Ryan Fleischmann has nine saves and 31 strikeouts in 27 innings, and is a candidate to close out games for Christopher Newport. The Captains were the World Series runner-up in 2003.
Marietta College Pioneers (42-7) vs. Whitworth University Pirates (30-14-1)
Friday, May 25, 7:45 p.m.
If there was a favorite to win it all in 2012, Marietta College would be the pick. The Pioneers come into Appleton with the Series’ best record. The Mideast Regional champions are also the defending champions of the College World Series. No team has won back-to-back titles since Rowan University did it in 1978 and ’79.
However, Marietta is no stranger to playing in the championship game. Marietta is a five-time champion but experienced a 20-year championship drought from ’86 to 2005. The Pioneers were also runners-up in 2001 and 2002.
Marietta senior shortstop Tim Saunders hit .441 in 2012 and was the Ohio Athletic Conference Player of the Year. The pitching staff is led by senior Austin Blaski, who won 12 of his 13 starts, had a minuscule 0.83 ERA and led the OAC in strikeouts with 103.
Webster’s not the only new team to crash the World Series party. The Whitworth University Pirates will have a far journey to Appleton, since the team is from Spokane, Wash.
The newcomer from the Northwest compiled a team batting average of .321 in the West Regional to win the tournament. The offense also averaged about seven runs per game in the Regional.
Sophomore outfielder Tyler Pfeffer accumulated a Northwest Conference-best 12 home runs and 58 RBIs while hitting .377. Freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe had the most strikeouts not only on the team, but also in the conference, with 91.
To watch these teams play, visit http://www.ncaa.com/sports/baseball/d3. All College World Series games will be streamed live for no charge.
Check back before Friday morning for a full preview of the Webster University-Wheaton College first-round game.