GRANVILLE, Ohio – Following a record-setting 34-6 campaign and five wins in their last six games, the 16th ranked Denison baseball team enters the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed after posting a conference record of 14-4.
The Big Red's first-round matchup comes against third-seeded Allegheny College on Thursday, May 9 at 1 p.m. at V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio. Back on April 6, Denison swept the Gators, 9-1 and 8-7, in an NCAC doubleheader that included a walk-off single from junior Brian McAuliffe to end game two. The tournament will open on Thursday at 10 a.m. with top-seeded Wooster hosting No. 4 Wabash College. The winners of Wooster-Wabash and Denison-Allegheny will square off at 4 p.m., while the losers from each game will play at 7 p.m.
All NCAC Tournament games will be live streamed by the NCAC using the Wabash College live streaming portal. Department representatives from each competing school will share broadcasting duties throughout the tournament.
Entering the tournament with one of the best offenses in the country, the Big Red currently boasts a team batting average of .349, which ranks as the second highest in all of NCAA Division III behind Penn State - Berks' .353. They also rank top-10 in the nation in hits (490), doubles (96), runs (369), runs per game (9.2), on-base percentage (.432), and slugging percentage (.512).
Junior Will Krushena has led Denison's electric offense this season, hitting .409 with 62 RBIs, 42 runs scored, 103 total bases, and a conference-leading 19 doubles. His 62 runs batted in not only leads the NCAC, but it also ranks second in the nation and is the second most in program history behind Drew Shamrock's 63 RBIs posted in 2004.
Shortstop Max Lahn continues his torrid season at the plate while leading the conference with a .465 batting average on 65 hits with 15 doubles, 48 runs, 31 walks, and a .548 on-base percentage. He also leads the NCAC with 109 assists and boasts a fielding percentage of .948 to contend for the gold glove at shortstop in the mid-east region.
Grady Paine, Ty Robinson, and McAuliffe have also added consistent power to the DU lineup this season as they are all hitting .338 or better with a combined 19 home runs and 105 runs batted in. McAuliffe's nine home runs rank as the second-most in the NCAC this season while Robinson is tied for fifth in the conference with seven.
On the mound, Denison's arsenal is led by a trio of seniors in Danny Brackman, John Troll, and Mikey Rivera. Following a 6-2 record in 2018, Brackman currently leads the NCAC with eight wins this season while recording 65 strikeouts with a 4.12 ERA in 67.2 innings of work.
Troll has provided consistency to the Big Red bullpen with a 6-0 record on 40 strikeouts and a 3.75 earned run average, while Rivera leads the conference with seven saves. Rivera currently ranks second all-time at Denison with 17 saves and has made 64 relief appearances, which is third most in school history.
The price of admission to the 2019 NCAC Baseball Tournament is $7 for adults and $3 for students and children. Each ticket is good for one day of admission to the tournament.
- Matchup History: Denison is 22-35 all-time against Allegheny, which includes six wins in their last seven matchups.
- Just Getting Started: After earning their first-ever NCAA Regional berth in 2018, Denison head coach Mike Deegan has continued to elevate the level of success within the program. While setting a new single-season record with 34 wins and counting in 2019, the Big Red also posted a program-best 17-game winning streak from March 21-April 20. In a 9-7 win over Baldwin Wallace on April 28, Deegan became the program's all-time winningest coach, passing Barry Craddock's previous record of 182 wins. Deegan currently owns an overall record of 187-99, good for a .654 winning percentage which is the best in program history.
- Raising the Bar: Through the regular season, Denison has set new program records in team batting average (.349), hits (490), on-base percentage (.432), runs (369), total bases (718), and fielding percentage (.970).
- Krushin' It: Junior Will Krushena has proven to be the catalyst for the Big Red at the plate and in the field. Leading the Big Red with 62 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .648, the first baseman also is tied with Ty Robinson for the team-lead with a .990 fielding percentage on the season. He also set a new program record with a 28-game hitting streak in 2019 while also hitting for the cycle against Kenyon College on April 16, the same game that broke Charlie Apfelbach's 27-game hitting streak.
- Runnin' Wild: The Big Red base runners have stolen 75 bases in 2019, led by Grady Paine who is tied for the conference lead with 13 stolen bases. Max Lahn checks in with 10 stolen bags, while Anthony Ruggieri and Vince Walker each have nine.
- Plate Protectors: Reigning NCAC Player of the Week Brad Baldinger and Daniel Spencer have brought balance to the catcher position for the Big Red. Combining to throw out 16 base stealers this season, the duo has also succeeded at the plate. Baldinger leads the way with a .405 batting average, 23 runs batted in and 17 runs scored. Spencer isn't far behind while hitting .380 with 19 RBIs and 15 runs.
- Freshman Phenoms: Freshmen Will McManaman and Kenny Lippman have assisted Brackman in the starting rotation, combining to go 9-1 in their rookie seasons with 80 combined strikeouts. McManaman leads the NCAC with a 2.45 ERA while sporting a perfect 6-0 record in 11 starts this season. Fellow rookie Henry Haack has tallied a team-low 1.14 earned run average with 16 strikeouts in 23.2 innings pitched.