2015 SCAC Baseball Championship - Preview

2015 SCAC Baseball Championship - Preview

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The 2015 SCAC Baseball Championship is set to begin on Friday, May 1st and will run through Sunday, May 3rd in Shreveport, La. on the campus of Centenary College of Louisiana. Official Website l Interactive Bracket

#1 Centenary College (22-14, 15-3 SCAC)
Centenary enters the SCAC Baseball Championship looking for its first conference tournament title in program history after clinching its second, SCAC regular season crown in the last three seasons. The Gents posted a 22-15 record and 15-3 in SCAC action.

Becoming the host site marks the first for the program since 1990, when the Maroon and White hosted the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Earlier this season, Centenary claimed 11 consecutive, conference wins – the most by any team in the league. The Gents are 8-3 this season against the tournament field, including a 4-1 mark against second-seeded Texas Lutheran.

Centenary boasts three of the top hurlers in the SCAC in Holden Novak, Taylor Henry and Jake McFarland. The trio ranks among the top 8 in the conference in wins as Novak is tied for the league lead with seven and is ninth in Ks with 47.

Henry leads the SCAC in strikeouts with 78 and is second in ERA with a 1.39. Kaleb Kirk ranks third in ERA with a 1.42 with McFarland eighth with a 2.77.

Chris Zapata and Aaron Quintanilla have proved to be the catalysts at the plate. Zapata ranks seventh in batting average (.346), fifth in hits (47) and ninth in RBI (26) in his debut season while Quintanilla ranks 10th in hits (41) and RBI (24) in his sophomore season with the squad. Michael Schimpf is seventh in hits (46) while Kody Carson is tied for seventh in RBI (28).

#2 Texas Lutheran University (25-12, 13-5 SCAC)
Texas Lutheran Baseball enjoyed a strong season in the SCAC and will enter the conference tournament as the two seed.

The Bulldogs spent much of the latter part of the season in the ABCA Coaches’ Poll, ranking as high as 27th and spending three straight weeks in the rankings. The main engine pushing TLU into the national spotlight was a 10game SCAC winning streak.

TLU finished with a 13-5 conference record and a 25-12 overall mark, giving the Bulldogs seven straight seasons of 25-plus wins.

The Bulldogs will rely upon a potent lineup to get them through the tournament. They finished the regular season as the second-highest scoring team in the conference, while finishing second in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

One of the Bulldogs’ key offensive pieces is senior leadoff hitter Tony Gennusa. The centerfielder is fourth in the league in batting average (.374) and fifth in slugging (.529). He’s also second in runs scored (44).

The Bulldog pitchers come into the tournament boasting a 3.87 ERA, good for fourth in the conference. They are third in the league in strikeouts per game (6.78).   Leading the staff is senior Aaron Aleman. The righthander owns a 1.95 ERA, fifth lowest in the conference, and has been one of the league’s best pitchers all season. He leads the SCAC in innings pitched (83.0).

#3 Trinity University (29-11, 13-5 SCAC)
Trinity started strong and finished strong during the 2015 season, but it was a midseason slide against a pair of conference opponents that left the Tigers fighting for a spot in the tournament until the very end of the SCAC schedule.

The Tigers will be the #3 seed in the tournament, tying Texas Lutheran for the second-best conference record on the year, but losing two-of-three during the series with the Bulldogs.   Offensively, seven of Trinity’s starters are hitting better than .300, with the team average soaring to .321 this season.

Colin Serkowski has been great in his first season as a starter, hitting with 13 doubles, as well as going 13-16 in stolen bases.  Austin Singer has a team-leading nine homers to go with 36 RBI.   Five Tiger pitchers have thrown 40 or more innings on the year, led by three hurlers sporting an ERA of 2.10 or lower.

Ryan Gray is undefeated at 6-0 with a team-leading marks with a 1.94 ERA and an opponent batting average of .128.  Matt Tindall has transitioned from closer to starter, throwing out an ERA of 2.06 to go with a 4-1 record.  Trent Rape is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA, and is second on the team with 58 strikeouts.

Trinity has won four of the past five SCAC Championships, including the last two in a row.  The Tigers have advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament for five consecutive seasons.

#4 Southwestern University (19-20, 8-10 SCAC)
Southwestern University enters the 2015 SCAC Championship as the #4 seed. This is their 16th appearance in the tournament after joining the league in 1994 and third consecutive appearance under head coach R.J. Thomas. The Pirates have five SCAC Titles in program history, winning it all in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2002.

The Pirates are third in the SCAC in runs hits and doubles and second in triples and home runs. Once on the base paths Southwestern is dangerous, leading the league in stolen bases with 119 on the year.

SCAC leader in most offensive categories, centerfielder Will Cates leads the Pirates at the plate. He boasts a .405 batting average with 64 hits in 158 at bats with nine doubles, eight triples and five homeruns. He has driven in 36 runs and scored 48 times and has 29 stolen bases on the season.   Sophomore Austyn Laird leads the Pirates in homeruns with six and is second on the team among active hitters with a .529 slugging percentage.

On the mound, Jeremy Rice has the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher at 1.82 and Collin Buckley is SU’s most effective reliever with a 1.78 ERA.

The Pirates face Centenary College in the Quarterfinals. This is the fourth meeting between CC and SU this season with Centenary holding a slight 2-1 advantage. Historically, Southwestern is 2-10 against the Gents with the first meeting coming in 2013.