A GLIMPSE OF HISTORY
This is the first time in eight years the Chapman University baseball team has made it to the Division III World Series and the Panthers' 15th appearance in the prestigious postseason tournament since joining the ranks of Division III in 1995. Chapman has made it to the double-elimination Championship round 10 times since 1995, including a five-year streak in which the Panthers competed for the NCAA Championship title in the final series. The Panthers' sole National Championship came in 2003 as Chapman went 39-12 under head coach Tom Tereschuk. Chapman reached the NCAA First Round in the 2018 season after winning the SCIAC Championship as the No. 3 seed, but ultimately fell in the double-elimination Regional round. The Panthers will look to make their way to the National Championship series for the first time since 2011.
This is the first time in program history the Panthers are facing off against Washington and Jefferson. The Presidents finished the regular season 29-11. They are currently undefeated in the postseason- sweeping their conference tournament, the NCAA Regional and the NCAA Super Regional. Most recently, Washington and Jefferson swept Misericordia to reach their second-ever World Series. The Panthers are 1-1 all-time against Webster after beating the side 3-2 in the 2016 season. Webster earned its fourth overall and first trip to the World Series since 2015 after sweeping Concordia-Chicago in the Super Regional round. The final team on Chapman's side of the bracket, the University of Massachusetts Boston, beat New England College in three games in the Super Regional to reach their third World Series in 10 years. The Panthers and the Beacons have never faced off in Chapman's 24-year tenure in Division III.
Just this week, D3baseball.com announced its Division III baseball All-America honorees. Senior starting pitcher Tyler Peck and sophomore reliever Nick Garcia both earned First Team All-America honors for their outstanding work on the mound this season. Peck and Garcia have helped lead the Panther pitching staff to be one of the most dominant in the nation. Peck leads the nation with 150 strikeouts this season, shattering Chapman's single-season record of 133 set by Brian Rauh the last time the Panthers reached the World Series in 2011. He has posted a career-low 1.73 ERA in 104 and two-thirds innings pitched this season and has amassed a 7-3 record in 16 starts. Garcia has been the bullpen leader, posting an impressive 0.56 ERA with 75 strikeouts in just 48 innings pitched. He has been clutch for the Panthers, recording a perfect 8-0 record with nine saves.
Senior captains Tristan Kevitch and Jarod Penniman have cranked it up this postseason, posting incredible numbers to lead the Panthers to the World Series. After hitting .266 in the regular season, Kevitch has caught fire, hitting .556 (15-for-27) with five doubles and a home run. He now leads the squad with a .315 batting average. Penniman has also stepped up for Chapman on both offense and defense. The starting shortstop is hitting .444 (12-for-27) in the postseason with four RBIs and two doubles. He has also made a couple of highlight-reel defensive plays late in both clinching games to help keep the Panthers in the postseason.
The Panthers know how to keep their fans on edge, producing five walk-off wins this season including winning both the Regional and Super Regional rounds in walk-off fashion. In the bottom of the ninth of the fifth and final game against Whitman in the Regional, a game in which the Panthers had to win, Penniman laid down a sacrifice bunt with freshman Cooper Foard on second base. A crucial error from the Blues' pitcher allowed Foard to score, sending the Panthers to the Super Regional. In the second game of the Super Regional against Concordia University Texas, Chapman and the Tornados were tied in the bottom of the ninth. With Foard on second and two outs, junior Aaron Wong called game and hit a single to right center, scoring Foard and sending the Panthers to the World Series. The Panthers have been keen on the dramatics all season as they are now 22-4 when their opponents score first.
BONUS: PLAYING FOR SOMETHING GREATER
The Chapman University baseball team is playing for something greater than themselves this season. In the back of the dugout hang two jerseys. One for a teammate, Miguel Cebedo, who suffered a season-ending injury less than two weeks before the SCIAC Tournament. The other, for a fallen teammate by the name of Carter Ankeny. Carter joined the Panthers in the 2016 season with Team Impact, an organization that pairs children with life-threatening diseases with collegiate teams in their area. Carter joined the Panthers in 2016 while battling a leukemia diagnosis at the age of five. He and his family quickly became essential members of the team and he was the most valued teammate in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, Carter relapsed and passed away due to complications from his treatment in October of 2017. Carter will be with the Panthers as an angel in the outfield in Cedar Rapids.
by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant