APPLETON, Wis. — Linfield College will defend its title as the Wildcats head the list of teams playing in the finals of the 2014 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.
Eight teams are headed to Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium for the double-elimination tournament that begins Friday, May 23, at 10 a.m. The 39th edition of the tournament runs through Tuesday, May 27, and this marks the 15th consecutive year the finals will be contested in Appleton. The championship is hosted by Lawrence University, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Defending national champion Linfield (37-7) knocked off the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4-2 in the championship game of the West Regional. Second-ranked Linfield, coached by former Major League Baseball player Scott Brosius, is attempting to become the fourth team to win back-to-back national titles (Cal State-Stanislaus 1976-77, Rowan 1978-79 and Marietta 2011-12). The Wildcats are making consecutive trips to the finals for the first time, and this is their fourth appearance overall.
With the Mideast Regional extending into Monday, Salisbury University (37-7) was the final team to advance to Appleton. The Sea Gulls completed an unbeaten run through the tournament with a 3-2 victory over Case Western Reserve University in the regional title game. The Sea Gulls are making their fourth trip to the finals and their first visit to Fox Cities Stadium since 2011.
The “home” team for the tournament is the UW-Whitewater (40-7), which is the lone Wisconsin team to make the final eight. The Warhawks, making their sixth appearance in the finals and the first since 2011, won the Midwest Regional with a perfect 4-0 record. The 2005 NCAA Division III champion, Whitewater rallied to defeat Adrian College 5-4 in the regional title game.
The University of Southern Maine (35-13) joins Linfield as the other school earning its second consecutive trip to the finals. Southern Maine downed Endicott College 11-1 to win the New England Regional and earn its eighth trip to the finals. The Huskies, winners of the national title in 1991 and 1997, advanced all the way to the 2013 national title game before falling 4-1 to Linfield.
The University of St. Thomas (Minn.), a two-time national champion, is back in the finals after winning the Central Regional with a 9-4 victory over Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The Tommies, winners of the national title in 2001 and 2009, are back in the finals for the sixth time and the first time since 2012.
No team coming to Appleton has more experience in the finals than the State University of New York-Cortland (35-8), which is making its 12 trip to the finals. The Red Dragons dispatched Kean University 10-1 in the championship game of the New York Regional. Cortland State, which is playing in Appleton for the eighth time, is in pursuit of its first national title.
Baldwin Wallace University (29-18) is a true Cinderella story as it makes its first appearance in the finals. The Yellowjackets finished fourth in the Ohio Athletic Conference but received at at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament. Baldwin Wallace, which has a school-record 29 wins on the season, then went on to defeat Wesleyan (Conn.) University 9-7 in the title game of the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
Emory University (34-11) punched its ticket to Appleton with a 5-2 victory over Bridgewater College in the South Regional final. The Eagles are making their fourth trip to the finals and their first trip since 2007 when Emory lost to Kean University 5-4 in the national championship game.
10 a.m., St. Thomas (Minn.) vs. Linfield
1:15 p.m., Baldwin Wallace vs. Emory
4:30 p.m., Salisbury vs. Cortland State
7:45 p.m., UW-Whitewater vs. Southern Maine