Hopes To Turn Tables
Defending Champ Marietta
Wheaton College is hoping that third time’s the charm as it seeks
its first NCAA Division III baseball title.
Lyons are ranked No. 1 by Perfect Game to begin the 2013 season, but
in the end will probably have to topple their old nemesis, Ohio’s
Marietta College, to achieve the breakthrough needed to reach their
defeated Wheaton 7-2 in last year’s D-III championship game, and in
a remarkable case of déjà vu beat the Lyons by the same score in
the deciding contest of the 2006 tournament.
are the only two occasions that Wheaton has reached the Division III
World Series, while mighty Marietta has won the last two
championships and six overall through the years.
(48-8) was victorious a year ago mainly on the strength of the best
pitching staff in the Division III ranks (2.35 team ERA), and Wheaton
hopes to use the same formula this season to push it over the top.
Lyons (41-11) return the two winningest pitchers in the school’s
15-year baseball history, righthanders Frank Holbrook (10-0, 1.38)
and Alec Palioca (9-1, 1.88), along with ace closer Ryan Grant (0-1,
2.36, 13 SV). Palioca’s only loss a year ago came in the final
won’t be dependent solely on pitching as it also returns four of
its top five hitters, including outfielder Sean Ryan (.384-3-37, 30
SB, school record 86 hits), first baseman Apolinar de la Cruz
(.376-2-50) and shortstop Eric Jensen (.305-0-32, 25 SB).
meanwhile, may be hard pressed to keep pace with Wheaton as it must
replace its top three starting pitchers, along with star shortstop
Tim Saunders (.441-5-48, 41 SB), though returns six of its top eight
hitters overall. The Pioneers begin the season at No. 3.
Thomas (Minn.), the 2002 and 2009 D-III champion, may provide Wheaton
its stiffest challenge as it returns a nice blend of hitting and
pitching from a team that finished third at last year’s
championship tournament. The Tommies (41-10) welcome back
righthanders Steve Maher (13-2, 2.77) and Dylan Thomas (8-2, 2.25),
and Thomas will also be a key contributor at the plate (.358-6-33).
several D-III teams in traditional Sun Belt states will kick off
their season this weekend, both Wheaton and Marietta aren’t
scheduled to play their 2013 openers until March 2.
year’s D-III World Series is scheduled for May 24-28 in its
traditional home of Appleton, Wis.
2012, when Birmingham-Southern slugging first baseman Bruce Maxwell,
the D-III player of the year, was taken in the second round, there
are no obvious candidates in the Division III ranks who might crack
the first 10 rounds of this year’s draft. Two players who starred
last summer in the Valley League, Kean (N.J.) righthander Kevin
Herget and Huntingdon (Ala.) catcher Joseph Odom, rank 1-2 on the
accompanying list of the Top 10 Prospects in D-III, as compiled by
posting a 7-5, 2.30 record with 113 strikeouts (fifth most in D-III)
in 98 innings as a junior at Kean and going undrafted, Herget flashed
overpowering stuff last summer with a fastball that topped out at 96
mph and a 12-6 curve with excellent depth. He topped the Valley
League with 77 strikeouts in 51 innings, but his 5-foot-11, 185-pound
frame continues to be an obstacle to his making more headway as a
6-foot-3, 205-pound Odom hit a robust .350-17-46 on the summer and
led the Valley League in home runs after hitting .325-8-44 as a
sophomore at Huntingdon. Though he has legitimate power in the eyes
of scouts, Odom’s receiving and blocking skills behind the plate
lag in comparison, and he may end up at first base in the long run.
total of 12 Division III players were drafted in 2012.
NCAA Division III Top 5 Teams
*Participated in 2012 NCAA Division III World Series
NCAA Division III Top 10 Prospects
||White Sox '11 (43)
||St. Thomas (Minn.)