APPLETON, Wis. – Another game, another big challenge for the Whitworth baseball team in today’s opening round of the NCAA Division III World Series at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Pirates, fresh off their first Regional Championship, take on defending national champion Marietta (Ohio) today at 5:45 p.m. PDT.
“For our guys, they wouldn’t have it any other way,” Whitworth coach Dan Ramsay said. “It’s kind of been that way all year. We have never had the target on your back, but we have always been chasing the teams that have it on theirs. Our guys are excited for the challenge and excited to compete. Besides, you have to beat the best to be the best.”
The Pirates had to come through the loser’s bracket to win the West Regional in McMinnville, Ore., last week, but the loss apparently helped Ramsay’s squad.
“More than anything after that loss, we had the confidence to know that we could compete with them. We gave up two home runs in that game with two outs, so the 8-3 score is a little lopsided from what it could have been,” Ramsay said. “We saw it as don’t be deceived by what that scoreboard says. We could have easily won that game 3-2 if two pitches change.”
The Pirates’ opponent today is one of the elite programs in Division III baseball and boasts the (D3baseball.com) national pitcher of the year in senior Austin Blaski.
“The mind-set of the team is we need to step up to the plate and work on getting his pitch count up so we can get him out of the game quickly,” said senior outfielder Tyler Pfeffer, who was named Thursday as a second-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association. “We want to get to the bullpen.”
“It has been a blast,” Ramsay said. “It’s still surreal at this point. We are still living out a dream, so we are hoping to keep it going at this point.”