CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Washington & Jefferson College baseball team secured its second trip to the NCAA Division III College World Series and will open play against No. 6 Chapman University this morning at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Field in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Presidents (37-11) enter the World Series on a nine-game winning streak, which includes an 8-0 record during postseason play. After a 3-7 start to the season, the Presidents have won 34 of their past 38 games, including their 12th Presidents' Athletics Conference title with an 8-1 win over Bethany on May 11. W&J was one of two teams that advanced to the championship round without hosting either of the two regional rounds.
SCOUTING THE PRESIDENTS: W&J is led by a powerful trio at the top of the batting order in senior center fielder Dante Dalesandro, senior second baseman Mullen Socha and senior left fielder James Artale.
Dalesandro is a First Team All-PAC selection and ABCA Second Team All-Region pick, who ranks among the best in the PAC in batting average (.360), on-base percentage (.459), slugging percentage (.522), runs scored (50), RBI (41), hits (58), and stolen bases (14).
Socha leads the PAC in runs scored (51) and doubles (18). Socha also ranks among the top five in home runs (8), slugging (.600), RBI (49), hits (68), total bases (114) and assists (111). Defensively, he has recorded 118 assists with an exceptional .991 fielding percentage and 24 double plays turned. Socha has been honored by the PAC, the ECAC, the ABCA and D3baseball.com during the postseason.
Artale has slugged seven home runs with 44 RBI, a .551 slugging percentage and 81 total bases. He has had a knack for producing in the clutch, registering a .462 batting average with and 24 RBI with two outs. Artale was named First Team All-PAC and picked up All-ECAC Second Team honors.
On the mound, the Presidents are led by junior pitcher Ben Marsico. The 2019 PAC Pitcher of the Year sports an 11-1 record with a pair of shutouts and a 3.29 ERA. His 11 victories are tied for fourth most in Division III baseball. Marsico was also honored by the ABCA, the ECAC and D3baseball.com during the postseason.
Seniors Mitchell Taufer of Washington and Clay Martin of Canon-McMillan give head coach Jeff Mountain a reliable back end of the bullpen. Taufer has registered an exceptional 0.83 ERA with a 3-0 record in 32.2 innings. Taufer has allowed just three runs on 15 hits in 2019.
Martin has nailed down a single-season program-record 11 saves, five of which have come during the Presidents 8-0 run during the postseason.
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS: Chapman enter the College World Series for the 11th time, which includes a National Title in 2003. The Panthers won their final eight Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) contests to capture the regular season championship and then swept through the SCIAC postseason tournament to qualify for the NCAA Playoffs. Chapman is just one of two top regionally ranked teams to make the trip to Cedar Rapids. The Panthers have compiled a 38-11 overall record in 2019.
The Panthers are led by senior pitcher Tyler Peck, who enters the CWS with a 7-3 record and a 1.72 ERA. Peck leads D-III with 150 strikeouts in 104.1 innings. Chapman sophomore closer Nick Garcia has recorded nine saves with a 0.56 ERA in 48.0 innings. Peck and Garcia were named First Team All-Americans by D3baseball.com.
On offense, Chapman has been led by Tristan Kevitch and Jarod Penniman during the postseason. After hitting .266 in the regular season, Kevitch has caught fire, hitting .556 (15-for-27) with five doubles and a home run. He now leads the squad with a .315 batting average. Penniman has also stepped up for Chapman on both offense and defense. The starting shortstop is hitting .444 (12-for-27)
THE REST OF THE FIELD: The winner of the four-team double-elimination Pool A, which also includes No. 18 Webster University and No. 23 UMass Boston, will advance to the best-of-three championship series against the bracket two winner. Pool B consists of No. 7 Babson College, No. 22 Johns Hopkins University, No. 15 Birmingham Southern College and Heidelberg University.