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NCAA Regional Notebook: Friday, May 18

Mike Deegan  |  Photo by Craig Hicks
Mike Deegan | Photo by Craig Hicks

The Skinny:  Denison will play top-seeded Randolph-Macon on Friday, May 18 at 3 p.m. at Ting Park in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Denison suffered a 5-1 loss to Christopher Newport on Thursday night.  Because of the quirks that come with a six-team, double elimination bracket, this is only an elimination game for Denison.  Randolph-Macon (32-7-1) defeated LaGrange, 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament on Friday.  A loss by the Big Red would send them packing, while a win for Randolph-Macon moves them on to Saturday's 11 a.m. game where they will face the winner of TCNJ-Christopher Newport (Friday at 7 p.m.).

Projected Arms:  Denison's projected Friday starter is junior right-hander Danny Brackman (6-1, 2.77 ERA, 52.0 IP).  He has won five of his last six starts dating back to mid-April and most recently pitched 5.2 innings in the Big Red's NCAC Tournament win over Kenyon on May 11.  Randolph-Macon is likely to turn to junior right-hander Nick Roth (9-1, 3.33 ERA, 73.0 IP). He is coming off a no-decision on May 12 in R-MC's 6-5 loss to Roanoke.  With only seven walks allowed this season and an impressive 9.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Roth doesn't hurt himself on the mound.

A look at the Yellow Jackets:  Randolph-Macon is ranked fifth in the most recent Top-25 poll and brings a 32-7-1 record into today's game. They defeated LaGrange 2-1 on Thursday by scoring the go-ahead run in the seventh on an RBI single to center by Jeff Butler.  He also drove in the first run of the game for the Yellow Jackets with a double to left field in the fifth inning.  R-MC starter Colin Selby pitched a complete game and allowed one run which was unearned while striking out 10. Randolph-Macon sports a .323 team batting average and is led by senior first baseman Joseph Tuzzolo who is batting .381 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs.

The Managers:  Denison head coach Mike Deegan is in his sixth season leading the Big Red. He is a two-time NCAC Coach of the Year who brings a career record of 153-92 (.625) into today's game.  Randolph-Macon's Ray Hedrick is in his 14th year in Ashland, Virginia. He has a career record of 327-225-5 (.592) and has led the Yellow Jackets to five NCAA regional appearances.

The Series:  This is the first-ever meeting between Denison and Randolph-Macon in baseball.  The same was said for DU's opponent on Thursday (Christopher Newport).  Out of the five other teams at the Holly Springs Regional, Denison has only faced LaGrange (six times; last time: 2006) and the College of New Jersey (once; last time: 2007).

It's a new day (yes it is!):  Denison's bats were silenced on Thursday night. The Big Red combined to go 5-for-30 with 13 strikeouts and zero walks.  Christopher Newport starter Thomas Packert went seven innings, even returning after a lengthy rain delay to improve to 9-1. He fanned eight and did not allow an earned run.  Brian Owens and Joe Burris pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively, striking out five of the six batters they faced.  The strikeout has become Denison's biggest enemy since entering the postseason. In the last five games (NCAC Tournament + NCAA Tournament) DU has whiffed 37 times in 127 at-bats. That number will need to shrink in order to extend the 2018 season at least one more day.

Bounce Back:  One of the beautiful things about baseball is that you never know what each day will bring. The offense might have been misfiring against CNU but the pitching and the defense were there.  Perley Provost and Mikey Rivera were placed in high-leverage situations in nearly every inning of Thursday night's game and the pair did a remarkable job keeping the damage to a minimum.  Christopher Newport left 21 runners on base, just two short of the NCAA Division III record set by RIT in 1984.

Rain Dance:  During Thursday's 90-minute rain delay versus Christopher Newport, a dance-off ensued between a CNU player and Denison outfielder Nick Pettigrew who was declared the de facto winner after a backflip and some pretty flashy moves.  Video of the dance-off started making the rounds on Twitter immediately.  Baseball is the best.

How to Watch:  Today's game versus Randolph-Macon is being streamed through YouTube Live by the host of the NCAA South Regional, William Peace University.  Live Stats are also provided.  The experience thus far by the host and venue can be best described as southern hospitality at its finest.  A special thanks to all of the staff and volunteers who are making this tournament a memorable experience for everyone involved.