Seton Hill hoping for regional berth after falling short in WVIAC tournament
Now they wait.
After a disappointing finish in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament last week, the Seton Hill University baseball team will find out this weekend whether it will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II regional tournament.
With his team having the most wins (39) of any in the region this season, coach Marc Marizzaldi feels pretty confident that the Griffins will get a berth to regionals, but coming up short in the WVIAC tournament was still difficult to accept.
“We had our sights set on winning the tournament,” Marizzaldi said. “We got behind the eight-ball pretty early.”
The Griffins opened WVIAC tournament play in Beckley, W.Va., last week with a 16-14 loss to the University of Charleston, and then began to climb back into contention in the double-elimination format with an 8-1 triumph over West Liberty and a 13-2 romp in a rematch against Charleston two days later.
The win over Charleston earned Seton Hill a matchup with West Virginia State later in the day, but the Griffins' title hopes ended with a hard-fought 2-1 loss. West Virginia State went on to lose to Concord, 11-4, in the championship game.
Seton Hill junior Bob Carbaugh tossed 7 1⁄3 no-hit innings against West Virginia State before giving up two runs in the eighth.
The Griffins scratched out a run in the ninth to cut the deficit to 2-1 and loaded the bases later in the inning, but they were unable to get the tying run home.
“It's a tough loss to swallow,” Marizzaldi said. “We just couldn't get the timely hit when we needed to.”
Timely hitting has been a hallmark of the Seton Hill squad all season, with sophomore Nick Sell — the WVIAC Player of the Year — leading the way. Sell's .449 batting average and 12 home runs are team highs.
“Nick Sell is having another huge year for us offensively,” Marizzaldi said.
Pacing the Griffins' pitching staff is junior Alex Haines, who earned conference Pitcher of the Year honors for the second consecutive season.
Haines, a Hempfield grad, owns a 7-2 record and a 2.64 ERA in 11 starts and has four complete games to his credit. He's averaging more than a strikeout an inning this season, fanning 81 batters in 64 2⁄3 innings.
Sophomore pitcher Brett Sullivan owns an 8-2 record and has posted five complete games.
With the Seton Hill players focused on finals this week, the coaching staff plans to spend a few days in Johnstown scouting the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament, as the Griffins' next opponent could come out of that pool of teams.
No matter who Seton Hill draws next, Marizzaldi is confident that his team will bounce back from the unexpected early exit in the WVIAC tournament.
“It's been an up-and-down season, but we've been learning a lot about ourselves,” Marizzaldi said. “We've been our own worst enemy.
“We're the only team that can stop us.”
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.