By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Division III NCAA Baseball Tournament is set to get underway this week and three local squads are a part of the field. Haverford College, Rowan University and Widener University will all open regional play on Wednesday.
Haverford won the Centennial Conference and they are the #8 seed in the Mid-Atlantic Region. This will be their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three seasons. The Fords first game will be against the region’s top seed Moravian.
Haverford brings a 22-18 record into the tournament. They lived on the edge in the double-elimination conference tournament, winning four straight games after losing their first.
“We’ve got a lot of really competitive guys who like playing baseball,” Haverford head coach Dave Beccaria tells KYW Newsradio. “Regardless of any ups and downs you go through during a season, as long as you have guys who care a lot about each other and really like playing the game, and like playing full-speed, you’re going to have a chance everyday and that’s something our team really hangs its hat on.”
Haverford also has a dominant ace at the top of its pitching staff. Junior right-hander Tommy Bergjans is 8-2 with a 1.10 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 65.2 innings of work.
Rowan won the New Jersey Athletic Conference and they sit at 32-10 mark for the season. This is the fifth straight year the Profs have earned an invite to the tournament. The #2 seed in that Mid-Atlantic region, the Profs open up against Wesleyan (Conn.).
Rowan head coach Juan Ranero says his team can do a lot of things well.
“I think I’ve had better pitching staffs, I think I’ve had better hitting teams, I think I’ve had just as good of fielding teams, but I think this group is a combination of all three,” Ranero tells KYW Newsradio. “I think we are pretty well balanced in all three areas. We did lead the conference in batting average and in most offensive categories, so I think if you have to pinpoint to anything (as their biggest strength), it’s probably our offense.”
The Profs hit an incredible .331 as a team with senior outfielder Eric Perez leading the way at .397.
Champions of the Commonwealth Conference, Widener University is making its seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Pride are the #4 seed in the Mideast Region and they will open play against La Roche.
“These guys did a remarkable job this year of coming together as a team,” Widener head coach Mike LaRosa tells KYW Newsradio. “Understanding their individual roles, we really don’t have one bad attitude on the team. All these guys (have) just pull together in the same direction pretty consistently all year, which has allowed them to have the success that they’ve had and certainly gotten us to this point.”
Widener is hitting .309 as a team with a fine ERA of 3.17. Two individuals really stand out when you look at the numbers. At the plate, senior OF/1B Michael Riverso is hitting .437 with 42 RBI. On the mound, senior right-hander Colin Weiss is 7-0 with a 1.77 ERA.
Widener is 31-11 this season.
These regionals are all double-elimination. The winners of the eight regional tournaments will then advance to the double-elimination championship in Appleton, Wisconsin, May 23-27.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.