APPLETON, WI - The magical postseason run by the Buena Vista baseball team gets set to hit the biggest stage on Friday afternoon when the team opens play in its first-ever NCAA Division III College World Series with a 4:30pm CT match-up against UW-Whitewater (36-11) inside of Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis.
The Beavers (32-16) earned a spot into this year's World Series after going 4-1 during the Central Regional Tournament, including a thrilling 7-6 triumph over Carthage College on Saturday afternoon. The 12th-ranked Warhakws, who captured the national title in 2005, secured their fourth trip to Appleton in the last eight years after topping St. Scholastica 6-3 to win the Whitewater Regional on Saturday.
Both teams tallied runner-up honors in their regular season conference races and also earned at-large berths into their respective Regional Tournaments.
Buena Vista looks to continue with its strong starting pitching, led by First Team All-IIAC and All-Region selection Luke Probasco. The senior righthander, now 9-3 on the year, gave the team a complete-game triumph to start the regional tournament, before coming on in relief in the first inning of the championship game and being charged with just one run over 6.2 innings, while being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Junior southpaw Michael Dirkx also chipped in with a complete-game of his own, allowing just one run to to the defending national champions en route to the team's 7-1 victory.
BVU will look to contain a Warhawk offense which hits .315 as a team and has a pair of all-conference and all-american individuals, led by Second Team All-American outfielder Daniel Putnam, who's hitting .411 overall with 11 doubles, 22 RBI and 59 runs scored. He's also stolen 28 bases. Jeff Donovan, a Third Team All-America utility player is next at .390 with 21 doubles, eight home runs, 50 RBI and 41 runs scored.
As a team, UW-Whitewater is slugging .452 with 110 doubles and 29 home runs.
Buena Vista also brings in a potent offense of its own. Brad Blum, the team's lead-off man, is leading the team in average at .378 and also posts an on-base percentage of .507. Sophomore first baseman Ryan Scheetz follows at .377 and is also tied for third in RBI with 32. Senior catcher Kevin Kloewer has seen his average raise from .307 to .322 following Regionals. He also leads the team in doubles (18), home runs (12) and slugging percentage (.649) and is second in RBI (46). Fellow senior Mike Hoffman is second in two-baggers (17) while leading the way in RBI (47). Junior third baseman Brock Yossi, who's hitting a solid .324 for the year has also swiped 20 bases on the season after stealing only six in his first two years combined.
As a team, BVU comes into the World Series hitting .308 overall and scoring more than six runs per contest. Defensively, the team has also committed one error or less in eight of its last 11 games.
The line-up will be facing a UW-Whitewater pitching staff with a 3.40 ERA and a pair of 10-game winners. Riley Tincher is 10-3 in 17 appearances with an ERA of 3.02 and five complete games. In 95.1 innings of work, he's allowed 32 earned runs, struck out 59 and walked 14. Donovan is also a force on the hill, going 10-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 14 appearances. He struck out 72 hitters over a span of 82.2 innings, while walking only 19. Six different hurlers have posted a save for a staff that has recorded seven on the year.
Live video and audio of the game will be available on the Buena Vista website at www.bvu.edu/athletics.
The winner of the contest will move onto play at 7:45pm CT on Saturday with the loser playing in an elimination game at 1:15pm CT on Saturday.