Dallas Baptist and TCU to host Regional

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, May 29th, 2015


By Bo Carter

It is truly a historic week for NCAA Division I baseball in the Metroplex as Dallas Baptist and TCU become the first two teams in the same season to host NCAA Regionals Friday-Sunday/Monday.
Fifteen years ago, neither school would have been able to present a NCAA bid because of aging and smaller facilities.
TCU was starting to make a baseball comeback again in 2002 but decided to part ways with popular head coach and Horned Frog All-America pitcher Lance Brown after that season.
That paved the way for new Lupton Stadium and head coach Jim Schlossnagle in 2003 as the Frogs currently are in their best 13-season run in school annals. TCU will host NC State, Sacred Heart and Stony Brook in the Fort Worth Regional.
Some 30 miles to the east, the DBU Patriots host the Dallas Regional – a first in NCAA DI baseball annals – after the Pats had been part of dozens of NAIA, NCAA Division II and National Christian College Association diamond meets since moving the campus from Decatur, Texas (as Decatur Baptist), to its beautiful hillside location in Southwest Dallas in 1965.
DBU within a decade became a small college baseball power under retired head coach Jim Harp from 1973-99 with  a total of 17 40-win seasons and NAIA World Series appearances in 1984, 1985 (finished second), 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1997, and 1999. DBU started seguing into NCAA Division II under longtime director of athletics Wayne Poage and then-head coach Sam Riggleman from 2000-2002 while the Patriots made their two final NAIA World Series treks as a team in 2000 and ’01.
And the almost-infant member of DI baseball (BDU is Division II in all its other intercollegiate varsity sports) already has made an impact in the NCAA with head coach Dan Heefner at the helm since 2008.
The Patriots became the first independent since Miami (Fla.) to get a NCAA at-large invite in ’08 and later came within two victories of making the NCAA World Series Field for the first time in school history before falling to California in the Santa Clara Super Regional. More NCAA bids followed in 2012 and 2014, and, most importantly, DBU built Horner Ballpark in 2013 to allow for all-important NCAA bids and ultimate fan and media experience.
That opened the door for the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference champs (first year of MVC competition) to make a bid for the ’15 NCAA Regionals and to host longtime nemesis Texas of the Big 12 Conference, two-time NCAA champ Oregon State, and Virginia Commonwealth, which has been a traditional Mid-Atlantic area powerhouse.
While Heefner’s Patriots host VCU in the opening round, their long and upset-filled history with the Longhorns goes back to Harp minus two years to a first meeting in 1971 and Texas victory. DBU and UT have met 53 times with Texas prevailing 46 times and 10 wins coming in the teams’ last 11 meetings since Texas ABCA Hall of Fame head coach Augie Garrido took the reins in 1997.
Still, while the significance of Texas traveling to DBU for the inaugural Dallas Regional is not lost on longtime observers, how the eight teams in these two of 16 NCAA Regionals arrived in the Metroplex could fill a baseball novel.

Briefly, TCU won its first Big 12 regular-season title in history (after taking the 2014 Phillips 66 Big 12 tourney in Oklahoma City) and second men’s crown (along with 2014 football) in the Horned Frogs’ brief history in the circuit.
And the keys for Schlossnagle’s crew have been another above-average pitching staff (the team has been rated as high as No. 3 nationally by several polls) behind two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Preston Morrison (11-2, 2.63 ERA, 71 strikeouts), Alex Young (9-2, 2.05 , 77 SO) and relief ace Riley Ferrell (1-2, 0.67 ERA, 42 SO in 27 innings, 14 saves) and batsmen OF Cody Jones (.376 average, 4 homers, 30 RBI) and freshman DH Connor Wanhanen (.339, 31 RBI, nine stolen bases).
Dallas Baptist finished second to eventual Top Eight national seed Missouri State in the 2015 MVC race and then went 2-2 in the MVC tourney to dip from the No. 1 ratings percentage index in NCAA D I behind top seeds UCLA and LSU.
Heefner’s nine still has a solid arsenal of experienced players in standout middle-innings’ relief man Chance Adams (7-1, 2.08 ERA, two saves), closer Brandon Koch (2-2, 1.41 ERA, 14 saves), second baseman Drew Turbin (.349-3 HR-34 RBI), and OF (with a great baseball name) Tagg Duce (.338-6 HR-38 RBI).
Incoming teams at TCU feature a wide variety of talent and some local angles.
One of NC State’s top hitters is none other than Colleyville’s Preston Palmeiro (son of Major League and Mississippi State star Rafael Palmeiro) with a .316 batting average, seven homers, 48 RBI and Atlantic Coast Conference all-tournament team laurels last week in an event won by Tallahassee Regional host Florida State.    The Wolfpack also features second baseman Logan Ratledge (.330-8 HR-37 RBI) and a capable mound staff, which kept NCSU in contention for the ACC title throughout 2015.
Sacred Heart took a path much like Texas with an unexpected Northeast Conference tourney title to get the loop’s automatic NCAA bid with an overall record of 23-30-1. That is one of just two sub-.500 overall marks among the 64-team field, but don’t tell the Pioneers they don’t belong in this elite bracket. TCU’s opening opponent Friday rode the bat of SS Zach Short (.296-7 HR-32 RBI) and arm of dependable reliever Dan Wertz (3-1, 1.87 ERA, two saves) into the next round of postseason.
The final member of the Fort Worth Region field is Stony Brook, which is guided by 2012 NCBWA National Coach of the Year Matt Senk after he guided the Sea Wolves (34-14-1 overall this year) to their first NCAA World Series after one of college baseball’s all-time upsets over LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional. The five-time winner of the America East Conference title is paced by OF Jack Parenty (.359-2 HR-46 RBI).
In the Dallas Regional, few teams carry the historic weight of the Longhorns who finished 30-25 overall but received three complete-game pitching performances in four contests in the Big 12 postseason joust. Garrido’s psychology paid major dividends as the tourney’s No. 5 seed. After the Longhorns (who sport a record 35 NCAA World Series appearances since 1949 and five NCAA titles) won their record fifth Phillips 66 Big 12 postseason crown, OF Ben Johnson (.339-5 HR-31 RBI) and pitchers starter Parker French (5-3) and Connor Mayes (27 appearances, two saves) each received kudos for keeping the pitching staff together.
Other Dallas contenders are OSU and VCU, which have combined for 75 wins against some of the nation’s toughest opposition.
Oregon State closed second to No. 1 seed UCLA in the Pac-12 standings at 19-10 and like the Big West Conference has a rested pitching staff prior to its trek to Horner Ballpark. Those two conferences are the only ones among the 30 automatic bid recipients without postseason meets to determine the league titlists.
OSU looks to All-Pac-12 Conference 1B KJ Harrison (.314-10 HR-58 RBI) and pitcher Andrew Moore (7-2, 1.73, 103 SO) to help place the Beavers in the next round of NCAA play against the winner of the Coral Gables Regional hosted by Miami.
VCU earned its ticket to the Diamond Dance with a triumph in the rugged Atlantic 10 tourney finals 5-3 over Rhode Island and has ample late-season momentum to make a run against this rugged field. The Rams utilize the solid talents of SS Vimael Mahcin (..336-3 HR-50 RBI) and pitcher Heath Dwyer (9-2, 2.95, 82 SO) among a balanced attack at the plate, on the mound and afield.
Stay tuned, fans, because the road to Omaha and the 2015 NCAA World Series (June 13-24/25) just might pass through Dallas or Fort Worth in historic fashion.

First Round Games
Dallas Regional
Texas (30-25) vs. Oregon State (38-16-1), 1:30 p.m. (winners and losers play Saturday at 1:30 and 6 p.m.)
Dallas Baptist (43-13) vs. VCU (37-22),
Saturday at 6 p.m.

Fort Worth Region
Stony Brook (34-14-1) vs. NC State (34-21), 1:30 p.m. (winners and losers play Saturday at 1:30 and 6 p.m.)
TCU (45-11) vs. Sacred Heart (23-30-1),
Saturday, 6 p.m.


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