NCAA Championship Tournament: 5 Things to Know

The Chapman University baseball team dogpiles after winning the SCIAC Championship.
Photo by Larry Newman

THE MATCHUP

Chapman University and Whitman College have faced off six times since the Panthers joined the ranks of NCAA Division III in 1995. Of those six meetings, Chapman has gone a perfect 6-0 against the Blues. Most recently, the Panthers beat Whitman 8-5 in the Cactus Classic in February of this season. Freshman Ben Ziv started on the mound for Chapman, striking out four batters in four innings before giving way to junior Riley Glenn. Glenn tossed the final five innings, striking out five while earning his first win of the season.

TOURNAMENT MAGIC

The Panthers went a perfect 3-0 in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament on the road to earning the title of Champions. Senior pitcher Jonathan Hernandez set the tone for the tournament in the first game, pitching a gem of a complete game in which he allowed just one hit and struck out 10 batters. The rest of the staff followed suit, allowing just two earned runs all weekend. They posted a 0.67 ERA with 25 strikeouts and just seven walks in three games. Cal Lutheran and La Verne were held to a mere .160 batting average over the course of the weekend against one of the top staffs in the nation.

COMEBACK SEASON

From day one, the Panthers have been making epic comebacks to post a 33-9 overall record this season. They have outscored their opponents 136-54 after the fifth inning and are 18-4 when their opponents score first. Chapman left the need for comebacks in the past last weekend, winning each of their three SCIAC Tournament games with ease. The Panthers scored four of their 16 runs within the first rotation of the lineup.

PANTHER PITCHING STAFF

The Panther pitching staff tallied over 30 strikeouts in seven of its last 10 series and they are averaging over 30 strikeouts per three-game series. It is no secret that the Panther pitching staff is one of the best in the nation. Chapman ranks second in the nation with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The Panthers also rank ninth in NCAA Division III with a 3.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. They have one of the lowest ERA's in the country, ranking fifth overall with a 2.96 team ERA. The staff only allows 7.67 hits per nine innings – the 11th lowest in the nation. Senior Tyler Peck has proven to be one of the toughest pitchers to face on the mound as he leads the nation with 132 strikeouts this season.

BRACKET BREAKDOWN

This is the first time that Division III is seeing a best-of-five series with a two-team regional. It is also the first time that Division III has moved to a best-of-three Super Regional. The Panthers are unbeaten against other teams competing in this year's National Championship. Chapman has gone a perfect 4-0 with wins over Whitman, Ithaca, MIT and Texas Lutheran. The winner of this weekend's series will go on to the Super Regional to face off against the winner of Trinity, Texas Lutheran, Franklin and Concordia (Texas), who are set to play at Texas Lutheran this weekend.

Chapman and Whitman face off for their first game tomorrow, Friday May 17 at 2 p.m. at Hart Park. The second game will be played 45 minutes after the completion of the first.