Adrian Readies to Play Host, Compete Against NCAA Regional Field; Opens with Heidelberg

The MIAA champion Adrian Bulldogs hope for another dogpile celebration at the conclusion of the NCAA Division III Baseball Adrian, Michigan, Regional this weekend. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
The MIAA champion Adrian Bulldogs hope for another dogpile celebration at the conclusion of the NCAA Division III Baseball Adrian, Michigan, Regional this weekend. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

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ADRIAN, Mich.--Adrian College will begin its quest in the 2019 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship as the host of the Adrian pod, conducted at Nicolay Field from Friday through Sunday. The third-seeded Bulldogs will square off against No. 2 Heidelberg University on Day 1, with first-pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday's schedule begins at 1 p.m. with a No. 1/4 seed matchup of Denison (38-7 overall) versus La Roche (30-13).

Overall Records: Adrian is 35-7 overall, including a 20-2 mark at home, while the Heidelberg Student Princes are 30-13 on the season and 11-5 in true road games.

Ticket Information: Ticket prices are $8 per game for general admission and $7 per game for senior citizens and students with ID. Re-entry permitted by purchasing another ticket. Per NCAA rules, no complimentary passes accepted. The front gates will open 1 hour and 30 minutes prior to the start of the first game each day.

Multimedia: LiveStats and Live Video will be provided by the Adrian College Athletic Communications office and Adrian College Television (ACTV). 

How Adrian and Heidelberg Got Here: The Bulldogs are seeded No. 3 in this regional after capturing their seventh Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament crown, earning the MIAA's automatic bid. The second-seeded Student Princes are a Pool C (at-large) team out of the Ohio Athletic Conference, after dropping a 7-3 decision to NCAA-bound Otterbein in the OAC title contest.

Bulldogs Versus the 'Berg: Adrian trails the Student Princes in the all-time series, 21-15, started in 1990. The teams met earlier this year on March 20 in Tiffin, Ohio, where HU won 16-5. Adrian actually led 5-0 after the top of the second inning. Adrian is 9-6 at home versus Heidelberg.

Championship Make Up: Monday afternoon, the Division III Baseball Committee announced the 58 schools that will compete in the 2019 field. Four teams will compete at 13 regional sites and two teams will compete at three regional sites. The four-team regionals will use a double-elimination format and the two-team regionals will play a best-of-five series. Forty conference champions qualified automatically. Winners of the 16 regional tournaments will qualify for eight, best-of-three series at the super regionals, Friday-Saturday, May 24-25. The eight super regional winners will then qualify for the pool play double-elimination championship at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday-Tuesday/Wednesday, May 31-June 4/5, 2019.

Bulldog Bits: Adrian has won 11 MIAA (regular season) championships in a row, extending its conference record...the 'Dawgs have earned the MIAA tournament title in seven of its eight seasons of existence (since 2012) and hosted as the No. 1 conference seed seven times...AC went 3-0 versus the Top-25 this spring...Adrian was 17-3 in the month of April...AC has won 30 games in a season every year since 2008...Adrian also hosted the NCAA Mideast Regional in 2009 and 2018, both eight-team fields...Adrian has its best record through 42 games played and tied a school record with 32 regular-season victories...Adrian went 1-3 against the 2019 NCAA Tournament field.

Coach Craig Rainey: The 1989 graduate is in his 26th season at his alma mater. Rainey has compiled a 689-420 (.621) career and school record. With a 475-173 (.733) conference record, he is the winningest baseball coach in MIAA history. Nationally, Rainey entered 2019 as the 24th-ranked active coach in wins and 45th in Division III history. 

Adrian Highlighted in NCAA National Statistical Rankings: The complete listing is here, but the Bulldogs are Top-25 in won-lost percentage (5th, .833), fielding percentage (7th, .973), sacrifice flies (8th, 31), scoring offense (9th, 8.8 runs per game), shutouts (11th, 6), hits allowed per nine innings (14th, 7.76), earned-run average (15th, 3.24), strikeouts per nine innings (18th, 8.9), on-base percentage (19th, .421), hits (22nd, 459), doubles (22nd, 95), hit by pitch (24th, 67) and batting average (25th, .326).

Honors, Honors, Honors: Adrian landed eight all-conference standouts including a sweep of the MIAA Player and Pitcher of the Year for the fourth consecutive season. Freshman Maxwell Denny is the MIAA Pitcher of the Year while junior Gunner Rainey is the conference's top position player...seniors third baseman Dugan Darnell and outfielder Zack Zschering, junior first baseman Brady Wood, and sophomores pitcher Mo Hanley, shortstop Thomas Miller earned first-team status along with Denny and Rainey, while sophomore outfielder Brandon Cooper made the second unit...Wood was a 2018 first-team all-conference second baseman while Rainey earned the same accolades in left field a year ago...Darnell, senior designated hitter Korey Mazur and Rainey have been named to the National Team of the Week this spring.

Setting the Table with ZZ: Zschering lists first in the MIAA with 54 runs scored, which is 15th in the nation, a career high and the second-most in school history. His career year also includes a .362/.485/.450 slashline and 30 walks to set up the potent AC offense.

100-Hit Club: Junior rightfielder Tristin Richardson (109), Darnell (127), Zschering (117) and Wood (115) have all eclipsed the milestone this season. Rainey, a three-time starter who transitioned to catcher this season, reached that plateau in 2018 and is the Bulldogs' active career leader with 185 hits--sixth in Adrian all-time history.

Runs Aplenty: Adrian is one of the top-scoring offenses in the country with a school-record 371 runs, breaking the previous benchmark of 370 by the 2017 squad...The Bulldogs have scored 10 runs or more in 18 games in 2019--getting the win in each such occasion. The split is 170 runs at home, 167 on the road and 34 at a neutral site.

RBI Machines: Bulldogs occupy four of the top five spots on the MIAA runs batted in list including Miller second with 47, Rainey third with 46, Wood fourth with 44 and Darnell fifth with 43. Those represent a career high for each student-athlete.

Pitching Prowess: As much as Adrian is known for offense, this Bulldogs pitching staff has been one of the best in recent memory...The conference-games starting rotation includes 2019 All-MIAA standouts Denny (9-0, 2.10 ERA, 51 K, 55.2 IP) and Hanley (5-0, 2.11 ERA, 64 K, 55.1 IP) as well as former all-conference honorees junior Pierce Banks (8-2, 3.65 ERA, 58 K, 61.2 IP) and sophomore Jordan Williams (7-1, 4.66 ERA, 46 K, 48.1 IP)...Denny is just the second freshman in team history to start his Bulldogs career 9-0, leading the MIAA and ninth in Division III in victories...he also tops the conference in ERA...Hanley paces the MIAA in strikeouts...Darnell (2-1, 0.45 ERA, 33 K, 20 IP) owns a school-record eight saves--11th in the nation--in his first season on the mound...the team's 342 strikeouts are second-most in Bulldogs history (373 in 2018) and among the NCAA leaders...Adrian has 167 punch-outs in 178 innings at The Nic...

Tough Field: Adrian is nationally-ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 25 and American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top-30 polls along with Denison, which is 13th with 325 points in the former and eighth with 352 in the latter. The host Bulldogs are No. 9 by D3baseball (378) and 13 by the ABCA (281)...Heidelberg and La Roche are both in the "receiving votes category" by D3baseball.

Adrian's NCAA History: The 'Dogs are 20-25 all-time in the NCAAs and had their highest finish of fourth-place at the 2008 Division III World Series held in Appleton, Wis....Adrian also had NCAA appearances in 2005-06-08-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-17-18 for 13 total...No other MIAA school has more than four...The Bulldogs also hosted the Mideast Regional in 2009, when they went 1-2, and last year with a 2-2 tourney mark.

Heidelberg in the NCAA:  Previous national tournament appearances include 2004-08-09-10-11-14-15 for a 16-14 (.533) all-time record...HU's best finish was fourth place in the 2010 event, when it was eliminated 6-4 by Linfield.

About the Student Princes: Click on the link for GAME PREVIEW as Heidelberg placed 11 All-OAC selections on the first-, second- and third-teams, headlined by five first teamers in seniors Matt Psychas and Alex Sir Louis, and juniors Tyler Smith, Kyle Jenkins and Marc Ochoa...that equals the program record for most all-conference performers, originally set in 2009 and matched in 2011...the trip to the NCAA Regionals will be the eighth for the Heidelberg baseball program--first since the regular season, Psychas compiled a .388 batting average, 62 hits, 16 doubles, five triples, five home runs, and 39 RBIs...Sir Louis continued incredible form from a year ago and compiled an 8-1 record on the mound this season with a 3.00 ERA and 36 strikeouts across 66 innings pitched.

Next Up: Adrian will be playing in Game 3 (with a loss) or Game 4 (with a win) on Saturday, meeting Denison or La Roche.

#AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #BulldogProud

NCAA regional schedule:

All times Eastern
Friday, May 17 Day 1
1 p.m. Game 1 - Denison vs La Roche  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l DU Recap / Presser l LU Recap / Presser
5 p.m. Game 2 - Heidelberg vs Adrian  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l HU Recap / Presser l AC Recap / Presser
Saturday, May 18 Day 2
Noon Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs Loser Game 2  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l H Recap / Presser l V Recap / Presser
3 p.m. Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs Winner Game 2  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l H Recap / Presser l V Recap / Presser 
6 p.m. Game 5 - Loser Game 4 vs Winner Game 3  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l H Recap / Presser l V Recap / Presser
Sunday, May 19 Day 3
Noon (Championship) Game 6 - Winner Game 4 vs Winner Game 5  ||  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l H Recap l V Recap
3 p.m. (if necessary) Game 7 - Same teams as Game 6  l|  Live Video l LiveStats l Box Score l H Recap / Presser l V Recap / Presser