Super regional primer: Top-seeded Hawks chasing World Series berth against Greyhounds
QUINCY — A Great Lakes Valley Conference baseball program is guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Division II World Series for the third consecutive season and the seventh time in the past nine seasons.
Will it be the team of destiny or the ultimate underdog?
A best-of-three series taking place at QU Stadium will decide it.
Quincy University (47-9), which moved to No. 1 in the Perfect Game Division II national poll this week and has been in the top 10 of the NCBWA poll the last 10 weeks, is riding an amazing streak. The Hawks have won 17 games in a row and 27 of their last 28 games, which includes winning the GLVC Tournament and last week’s Midwest Regional.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis (37-19) opened its season by winning 11 straight games, cracked the NCBWA Top 25 and then lost nine straight games. The Greyhounds went 17-15 in the GLVC, but they won 12 of their final 14 games of the regular season and swept three games in the Midwest Regional hosted by Illinois-Springfield.
The Greyhounds came into the postseason as the No. 7 seed in a seven-team regional and are the lowest seed to advance to any of the eight super regionals.
The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday at QU Stadium with a noon game set for Saturday. Should a third game be necessary, it will be played at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Here is the need-to-know information on the Midwest Super Regional:
• Quincy is 29-2 at home this season, last losing to Maryville 6-5 on April 6 when the Saints overcame a 5-2 deficit by scoring four times in the top of the ninth inning as the Hawks’ bullpen walked the bases loaded to open the inning.
• The Hawks beat the Greyhounds in their lone matchup this season, winning 7-5 in the second round of the GLVC Tournament. Quincy led 6-0 in the fifth inning and collected four extra-base hits in that game. Griffin Kirn, the left-hander who is slated to start Game 2 for Quincy, worked four scoreless innings to open that game before running into trouble in the fifth.
• Quincy and UIndy each had one of the three players to earn unanimous first-team All-GLVC honors this spring. Hawks junior catcher Luke Napleton, who was named the GLVC Player of the Year, leads the nation in home runs (29) and RBIs (86). Greyhounds junior second baseman Drew Donaldson was among the GLVC’s most dynamic hitters and comes into the super regional hitting .427 with 21 doubles, seven triples, 10 home runs, 59 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
• The Greyhounds will put pressure on the Hawks’ defense on the basepaths. UIndy has stolen 149 bases this season, which ranks 11th in the nation. Greyhounds left fielder Caleb Vaughn has swiped 43 of 45 bases, which is seventh in the nation. Quincy has caught 28 of 114 base stealers this season with Napleton throwing out 10 of 38 runners. The Greyhounds are also tied for fifth in the nation with 23 triples.
• Conversely, Quincy is going to put pressure on the UIndy pitching staff with its power. The Hawks are two home runs away from breaking West Georgia’s NCAA Division II single season record of 131 home runs in 60 games in 1998. Napleton leads all NCAA sluggers (Divisions I, II and III combined) with 29 home runs and six Hawks have 10 or more homers. They also have 116 doubles as a team, led by Gino D’Alessio with 20.
• The Hawks have had 42.1 percent of their hits this season go for extra bases. The Greyhounds have had 33.2 percent of their hits go for extra bases.
• Two teams on Quincy’s regular-season schedule are playing in super regionals. Augustana, which Quincy swept in a three-game series at QU Stadium in March and outscored the Vikings 24-4, is squaring off against Minnesota State in the Central Regional. Meanwhile, in the South Regional, Rollins is facing Barry. Rollins took 2 of 3 from Quincy during the Hawks’ season-opening seven-game Florida road trip. It is the only series the Hawks lost this season.
• It’s been a record-setting season for the Hawks as they’ve broken the single-season mark for victories, shattered team home run records and set two new individual records — Napleton broke the home run record and D’Alessio broke the runs scored record with 85. Two more are in danger of falling. Napleton has 86 RBIs, which is two shy of the record set by Ryan Snyder in 2016, and D’Alessio has 88 hits, four shy of the record set by Snyder.
• Quincy right-hander Spencer Walker will get the start in Friday’s first game, and should he win, it would be his 10th victory of the season, the second most in program history. Larry Franzoi set the mark with 11 victories in 1975, while Walker already is tied for second after going 10-1 last season. Brandon DeJaynes (2003) and Brad Stone (2006) also won 10 games.
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