|Otterbein has out-homered the opposition 43-26 in 2018.
Otterbein athletics photo by Ed Syguda
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Meet the teams
|Tommy Parsons sits at the top of many Adrian career pitching records and should be comfortable on the mound, as the regional takes place on Adrian's home field.
Adrian athletics photo
By Shawn Spence
The Adrian Regional has an air of uncertainty about it this year despite having several Mideast mainstays in the 8-team field set to compete in Michigan, as well as a distinct air of familiarity and echoes of past battles.
Top-seeded Wooster looked a force much of the year before dropping two games to Wabash in the NCAC tournament on the heels of a conference doubleheader split to Kenyon. Three losses to teams outside the last in-season regional rankings will be a signal to the rest of the field that the top seed is far from invincible. Wooster will be looking to improve on its 1-2 showing as a top seed last year.
Second-seeded Otterbein also failed to capture a conference championship as the top conference seed, falling to offensive buzz saw Baldwin Wallace twice in the OAC tournament, giving up 37 runs in the losses. Both Otterbein and fellow OAC member and #4 seed Marietta – victim of a hammering from BW themselves – will likely not be disappointed to see the Yellow Jackets sent to New York.
Marietta’s won-lost record and stat sheet look ordinary, but the Pioneers took on all comers, racking up by far the nation’s highest strength of schedule. That earned them a Pool C bid with relative ease despite going 1-4 in the season’s final week. A senior-laden pitching staff will be eager to lead the Pioneers back to Wisconsin for Appleton’s swansong as tournament hosts. They fit right in with the redemption theme among the top half of the seeds.
La Roche is the nouveau riche, but has quickly proven itself a big-time program and emerging from a field full of strength and tradition would only further the point. They’re also the only top 4 seed that comes in from a strong finish, winning their conference tournament and sweeping at doubleheader from Marietta in the final week of the season.
Shenandoah is technically from the South, but has played in the Mideast-based regional before and has also acquired a taste for success. Marietta’s recent tours of the South regional have also put them on course with the Hornets of late. They’ll kick off the tournament in practically a mirror image matchup of their game in the 2016 Mount Berry regional. Just like this year, Marietta came in with quality wins and a roughed-up record, while Shenandoah was a 30+ win team. The Etta Express was one strike away from a win but Shenandoah came away the victors then. A similarly exciting and tight ballgame this year would be no surprise.
And Otterbein will certainly know its likely first-round pitching opponent – Adrian ace Tommy Parsons. The Bulldogs’ Parsons – 39-4 in his career at Adrian -- was recruited to “that state up north” from New Albany, Ohio, just 10 miles from the Otterbein campus. On paper, Parsons looks to be the regional’s golden arm.
It all feels a bit like a family reunion, with Shenandoah and Ithaca being those distant relatives that you don’t see very often, but are still familiar enough. Add to it that 7 of the 8 schools have won a regional, and the Adrian 8-teamer certainly looks like an intriguing event and a great one for fans young and seasoned.
Adrian Regional schedule
Thursday, May 17
Game 1: No. 4 Marietta (27-16) vs. No. 5 Shenandoah (34-10), 10:00 a.m.
Game 2: No. 1 Wooster (36-6) vs. No. 8 Wabash (28-15), 1:15 p.m.
Game 3: No. 3 La Roche (34-8-1) vs. No. 6 Ithaca (28-15), 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: No. 2 Otterbein (30-14) vs. No. 7 Adrian (33-10), 7:45 p.m.
Friday, May 18
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 1:15
Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 4:30
Game 8: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:45
Saturday, May 19
Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 1:15
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 4:30
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 7:45
Sunday, May 20
Game 13: Game 12 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 12 p.m.
Game 14: Game 11 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 3:30
Monday, May 21
Game 15: Game 14 winner vs. Game 14 loser, if necessary
You have to be kidding. This thing looks wide open. But to get in and stay in the winner’s bracket, it helps to have a couple of strong arms and a top reliever to keep those aces’ work from going to waste. La Roche looks to have that. Regis Sauer came into the season with an 18-2 record in the last two years, but Nick Tunstall and Tre Thomas have emerged and got more starts and more innings this season, giving La Roche three solid starting pitchers. Shane Emrich has been a dominant door-slammer, leaving opponents barely a hope of a late comeback.
Most likely to disappoint
Tough to pick one of those as well, but Otterbein has allowed nine or more runs in six of their last 11 games as some injury problems at the top of their starting rotation have left them looking for relief, literally and figuratively. The Cards hoped to be healthy and ready by conference tournament play, but could only get a brief and ineffective relief outing from their most veteran and reliable pitcher. Stepping out of their home field with the short porch after 11 of 12 games at home could add to difficulty for a team that leans on the long ball. The Cardinals topped the OAC regular season and are certainly formidable, but they’re encountering headwinds and time is short to find answers.
The dilemma with picking a Cinderella is that they could easily go 0-2 and leave you looking silly. And that could certainly happen with this pick. But Wabash didn’t win the NCAC tournament on luck. The Little Giants have two solid starting pitchers and a couple of relievers that just might be able to get them through the early rounds, and they obviously will believe they can knock off the 1 seed on day one. They beat Wooster twice and Denison once on that NCAC title run – no mean feat. Maybe it’s fanciful to think they can do it two weekends in a row, but in case the point hadn’t been made already, this regional is open to whoever makes the most of their opportunity.
Players to Watch
C Chase Smallwood, Shenandoah (.406, .504 OBP)
C Bryce Aldridge, Wabash (.371, 45 RBI, 18 XBH, 28 BB)
1B Jackson Blevins, Wabash (.352, 48 RBI, 22 XBH)
1B Garrett Crum, Wooster (.370, 9 HR, 65 RBI, 22 XBH)
1B Mike Hale, Marietta (.322, 6 HR, 43 RBI, 27 XBH, 11 SB)
2B Geoff Snyder, Marietta (.363, .485 OBP, 15 XBH)
2B Webb Little, Ithaca (.356, 5 HR, 15 XBH, 27 BB)
3B Connor Brett, Otterbein (.329, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 26 XBH)
SS Ben Beachy, Otterbein (.381, 9 HR, 46 RBI, 27 BB, 33 XBH)
OF Dan Harwood, Wooster (.388, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 31 XBH)
OF Jonathan Spina, La Roche (.420, 38 RBI, 15 XBH, 23 SB)
OF Sam Little, Ithaca (.342, 36 RBI, 17 XBH)
OF Keegan Woolford, Shenandoah (.348, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 28 XBH)
OF Brady Wood, Adrian (.414, 17 XBH)
SP Nanak Saran, Wooster (8-2, 2.80 ERA, 64.1 IP, 48 H, 34 BB, 59 K)
SP Stevie Yuran, Otterbein (3-3, 2.47 ERA, 62 IP, 56 H, 32 BB, 61 K)
SP Tre Thomas, La Roche (8-1, 1.48 ERA, 54.2 IP, 37 H, 30 BB, 63 K)
SP Scott Oberhelman, Marietta (5-3, 3.27 ERA, 71.2 IP, 62 H, 10 BB, 45 K)
SP Michael Bugonowicz, Shenandoah (5-2, 7 SV, 62 IP, 51 H, 16 BB, 66 K)
SP Tommy Parsons, Adrian (10-0, 1.48 ERA, 85 IP, 73 H, 5 BB, 103 K)
SP Bryan Roberts, Wabash (7-3, 2.29 ERA, 82.2 IP, 68 H, 25 BB, 70 K)
RP Shane Emrich, La Roche (3-0, 7 SV, 21.1 IP, 10 H, 9 BB, 35 K)
RP Collin Hoffman, Otterbein (8-1, 2.55 ERA, 35.1 IP, 30 H, 4 BB, 40 K)