The Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team goes into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series as the No. 10 seed, but coach Chris Howard is optimistic about his team’s chances.
“The guys are extremely excited. It’s the second year in a row we’re going and everybody is anxious to have a better showing than we did last year (0-2),” the coach said. “It helps that a lot of the guys have been there before, too. Experience counts in situations like these and that is an advantage that we’re going to have this year.”
Penn College (22-15) opens play at 8:30 a.m. Monday against seventh-seeded Lindenwood-Belleville (22-19).
The winner of that game plays second-seeded Clark State Community College (24-3) at 4 p.m. Monday while the loser will meet the loser of a game between No. 3 seed University of Cincinnati-Clermont (24-7-1) and No. 6 Southern Virginia University (18-14) at 11 a.m. Tuesday. All games are being played at Pullman Park in Butler.
“We deserved this bid,” Howard continued about his Wildcats, which finished second to Penn State Greater Allegheny in last week’s Penn State University Athletic Conference Championships. “We played fantastic baseball from the word ‘Go.’I really felt like this team deserved a bid to nationals and I’m excited for all of the guys.
“It’s important for us to get out there and get that first win. … Last year, we came out and played two tough games, had a couple of errors that cost us; but, once you get that first win under your belt, you start having a little bit more confidence in yourself and believing that you belong. That first game is going to be really important,” Howard said.
Penn College has experience against two of its potential tournament foes in Greater Allegheny, against which it has gone 2-3 so far this year, and Southern Virginia University, to which it lost twice by one run in its first games of the season in March.
“Against Southern Virginia, we lost both of those games on walk-offs, and we had given up three runs in the last inning of the second game to get beat. But one thing we came away with was that we certainly should have won one of those games. We knew that we were good enough and we belonged and we could play with anybody in the top echelon of the USCAA,” Howard said.
“Other than the (PSUAC) championship game (10-1 loss) against Greater Allegheny, we’re basically splitting games (during the season). We’re confident in our ability and feel like we can make a run at this thing,” added the coach, in his seventh season.
The Apprentice School, of Newport News, Va., (31-8) is the tournament’s top seed and will begin play at 9 p.m. Monday against the winner of the day’s 11 a.m. contest between No. 8 St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn (20-12) and No. 9 Briarcliffe College (17-14). In the opening day’s other game, No. 4 Selma University (22-2-2) will play No. 5 host Greater Allegheny (28-15) at 6:30 p.m.
Along with Penn College and the Apprentice School, returning for a second consecutive year are Southern Virginia, Selma and Clark State. St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn and Lindenwood University-Belleville are making their inaugural trip to the Small College World Series. Cincinnati-Clermont returns for the first time since 2010, and Briarcliffe College (the 2011 USCAA baseball national champions) and Penn State Greater Allegheny are returning after a one-year absence from the tournament.
Action continues with games at 8:30 and 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4, 6:30 and 9 p.m. Tuesday; 9 and 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday; and 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Thursday. If another game in the double-elimination tourney is necessary, it will be played at 6 p.m. Thursday.
USCAA Seeds (overall records)
1. The Apprentice School, Newport News, Va. (31-8)
2. Clark State Community College, Springfield, Ohio (24-3)
3. University of Cincinnati-Clermont, Batavia, Ohio (24-7-1)
4. Selma University, Selma, Ala. (22-2-2)
5. Penn State Greater Allegheny, McKeesport (28-15)
6. Southern Virginia University, Buena Vista, Va. (18-14)
7. Lindenwood University-Belleville, Belleville, Ill. (22-19)
8. St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn, Brooklyn, N.Y. (20-12)
9. Briarcliffe College, Bethpage, N.Y. (17-14)
10. Penn College (22-15)