Dallas Baptist is a relative newcomer to Division I Baseball, but that hasn’t stopped them from having immediate success. Over the past 10 seasons, this is their seventh regional. It’s their fourth in a row and they are no stranger to postseason success, having played in a Super Regional in 2011. Somewhat of a down year with “only” 40 wins, the Patriots needed to win the MVC Tournament in order to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament.
The Patriots through the years are known for their offense and this year is no different. The team can mash, hitting a collective .304 and belting 84 home runs. For comparison, this year’s UVA offensive juggernaut only hit 60. The Patriots are led by Austin Listi. A First Team All-MVC selection, the senior hit .332 on the season with 20 home runs, tied for seventh in the country. Hitting in front of him is the MVC hits leader, fellow First Team All-MVC selection, Jameson Hannah. Hannah hit .335 and had eight home runs of his own. Behind the dish is Garrett Wolforth. In addition to being a rock for his pitchers, he hit .292 on the year.
In total, the Patriots have five players who hit seven home runs or more. Behind Listi for the team lead were Second Team All-MVC selections Camden Duzenack and Tim Millard. The pair hit 13 and 11 home runs respectively.
This game has a chance to be a shootout because on the mound Dallas Baptist isn’t nearly as strong. Ray Gaither is their likely Friday starter. Only a freshman, Gaither went 5-4 on the year with a 5.37 ERA. He’s got a decent strike out rate, but can have issues with giving up walks. Joining him in the starting rotation are Jordan Martinson and MD Johnson. Martinson went 9-3 with a 4.48 ERA as the Saturday starter while Johnson closed out the weekend and went 5-2 with a 4.31 ERA on his way to Honorable Mention All-MVC honors.
Much like Virginia, the Patriots don’t ask a lot of their starters as the strength of their pitching staff lies in their bullpen. Dalton Higgins is their set-up guy and went 7-1 with a team leading 2.45 ERA. He appeared in 27 games and tallied five saves. But his role was to get the game to closer Seth Elledge. Elledge was a First Team All-MVC Selection and recorded 12 saves with a 2.51 ERA. Elledge has a strong 12.12 K/9 Inning so if he gets in the game it could be lights out for the Hoos.
There should be some fireworks on Friday as both of these teams come in with potent offenses. Both will be looking to win the all-important game one to move on in the winners bracket. First pitch is 4 P.M. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.