College World Series Preview: Webster vs. Kean University

Webster University senior pitcher Steven Dooley

Two All-American pitchers will face off when the Webster University and Kean University baseball teams clash in the College World Series (CWS) on Friday, May 24 at 7:45 p.m. in Appleton, Wis.

Senior right-hander Steven Dooley, the ace of the Gorloks’ staff, will oppose senior righty Kevin Herget, Kean’s No. 1 starter. Both Dooley and Herget were named All-Americans by the American Baseball Coaches Association on Thursday, May 23. Herget was a second-team All-American, while Dooley was selected to the third team.

Dooley has been Webster’s go-to starting pitcher all year long. He started against No. 1-ranked Wheaton College (Mass.) and No. 2-ranked Marietta College (Ohio) in the Gorloks’ spring break trip to Florida, and helped Webster win both games.

In the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship game, Dooley threw a complete-game five-hitter on one days’ rest, as Webster defeated Spalding University (Ky.) 3-1.

Kean University senior pitcher Kevin Herget

“In big games, I want to have as much say as I can in whether we’re going to win or lose,” Dooley said. “I don’t like sitting there and watching it and knowing there’s nothing I can do. I just like having as much control as I can have, and by pitching, it gives me quite a bit of (control).”

Dooley will have to be in control when he faces Kean (N.J.), as the Cougars have a .307 team batting average. Dooley pitched 3 2/3 innings against Kean in last year’s CWS — an 8-7 Webster walk-off win. But Dooley doesn’t think that game will have much of an impact on this year’s contest.

Dooley said for him to have a successful outing against Kean, he’ll need to have command of every pitch in his arsenal.

“Against good teams and in big games, if you miss a spot, they’re going to make it hurt,” Dooley said. “It definitely makes me focus more on what I’m trying to do, where I’m trying to throw this ball, what I’m trying to get the batter to do.”

Kean coach Neil Ioviero said Herget will get the start against the Gorloks. It is the second straight Kean All-American that Webster will face, as the Cougars started first-team All-American Ryan Zamorsky in last year’s CWS.

Herget enters the World Series with a 9-2 record and a 1.57 ERA. In his 103 innings pitched this season, Herget has struck out 97 batters and walked 32. Opponents are hitting .208 against him. For his efforts, Herget was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Dooley comes into the CWS with a 10-2 record and a 2.23 ERA. In his 88 2/3 innings, Dooley has 68 strikeouts and 18 walks. Of the 35 runs he’s allowed this season, 13 have been unearned. Dooley earned SLIAC Pitcher of the Year honors.

Coaches prepare for World Series

Webster University Gorloks

To get ready to face Kean for the second time in as many years, Webster coach Bill Kurich and his staff re-examined in-game notes they took during last year’s Webster-Kean contest. Kurich also watched Herget pitch in Kean’s 10-5 loss to SUNY Cortland in the 2012 CWS.

Kurich said the Cougars’ biggest strength is they consistently find ways to win games. Kean has appeared in three straight World Series and six of the last seven. The Cougars won their first and only national championship in 2007.

Ioviero said the Cougars’ biggest strength is they don’t have one — they’re sound in all facets of the game.

“This is not a one-man show,” Ioviero said.

Kean University Cougars

Ioviero said his team’s CWS experience could be perceived as an advantage. But he believes that wealth of experience helps his team on the road to the World Series, not necessarily during it.

“When we got here in 2007 — that’s our first time — everyone said you were supposed to be scared to play — blah, blah, blah — and then we ended up winning it that year,” Ioviero said. “Thank God we ended up winning it at least for the first year, because we’d be like the Buffalo Bills of college baseball — getting here a lot and not winning it.

“But what people don’t understand is that when you have a target on your back from the preseason on, every single time you play against somebody you’re getting their very, very best pitcher, the coach’s best effort, the players’ best effort. … Our kids have to match intensity and we’ve got to keep staying up and focused to play against those kinds of teams with that kind of competition level.”

Kurich said he thinks the Gorloks’ first appearance in the CWS last year will benefit this year’s squad.

“When you go there last year, you’re playing against — theoretically — the seven best teams in the country. You wonder if you deserve to be there,” Kurich said. “You go there, you hope to get to the field on time and you don’t get embarrassed. You’re trying to compete with those types of teams.

“Now, we know we belong there. That’s a whole different way to take the field, when you know you’re one of those types of teams.”

Webster enters the World Series with a 36-10 overall record and the No. 12 ranking in the nation, according to the most recent poll. Kean carries its 38-11 record and No. 10 national ranking into the CWS.

Kurich said despite the big stage and high-caliber opponent, the Gorloks won’t play any differently against Kean than they have in Kurich’s first seven years at the helm of the Webster program.

“We’re going to run and put pressure on them if we get the opportunity to, and force them to make plays,” Kurich said. “That’s going to be the formula for everybody. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Kean or Fontbonne or the Cardinals. That’s how we’re going to play the game.”

To watch the Webster-Kean game, visit All College World Series games will be streamed live by the NCAA for no charge.

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