Seton Hill might just be entering the NCAA Division II baseball national championship tournament this week with a measure of added motivation.
The Griffins (44-10), fresh off winning their third Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament championship Saturday, were announced as the No. 2 seed in the Atlantic Region during an NCAA broadcast that began at 11 p.m. Sunday night.
Millersville (40-8) was awarded the top seed in the region. The Marauders won the PSAC East regular-season title, but were upset in the first round of the conference tournament by Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Marc Marizzaldi, in his 19th season as Seton Hill’s coach, expressed frustration with his team’s designation as the No. 2 seed in the region after winning the PSAC West regular-season championship and conference tournament title.
“We were surprised and I would say disappointed,” he said Sunday night. “It’s not just the conference tournament. You could look at that and say Millersville losing one game that shouldn’t hurt them.”
Marizzaldi said his team’s performance alone, however, should’ve taken precedent.
The Griffins won 20 of their last 22 games and breezed through the PSAC tournament, defeating Shippensburg, California and West Chester, twice, by a combined score of 48-8.
“I think just based on our entire season, apparently there’s no weight at all put into a conference tournament, I thought our body of work was good enough for the No. 1 seed,” said Marizzaldi, whose team knocked off West Chester, 14-4 and 10-0, Saturday to win the conference title.
Seton Hill, which will host its portion of the Atlantic Region bracket, will play No. 7 seed Shippensburg (27-23) at 11 a.m. Thursday at SHU Baseball Complex in Greensburg.
Despite his frustration over the Griffins’ seeding, Marizzaldi said his team is focused on its ultimate goal of advancing to the Division II World Series in Cary, N.C., in June.
“We don’t even need that kind of motivation,” he said. “I think we are motivated by other things. Our ultimate goal is to get to Cary, so this is just one step along the road, I guess. We have to win this tournament in order to get to a super regional.”
Seton Hill will be entering the Atlantic Regional with plenty of momentum.
Senior catcher Vincenzo Rauso, a Central Catholic graduate and Gibsonia native, was named Most Valuable Player of the PSAC tournament. He went 11 for 17 over the four-game stretch with eight RBIs and eight runs scored.
Junior right-hander Jon McCullough, a 2020 Seneca Valley graduate, scattered one earned run on two hits with four strikeouts over seven innings in the Griffins’ 12-1 victory against Shippensburg in the first round of the PSAC tournament.
McCullough is 5-1 on the season with a team-low 2.32 ERA and 54 strikeouts compared to just 11 walks.
“We had some decent success against them,” Marizzaldi said. “I’m hopeful that we can kind of pick up where we left off.”
The PSAC will also be represented in the Atlantic Regional by No. 3 seed East Stroudsburg (35-12) and No. 6 seed Mercyhurst (28-15), which both received at-large bids. First pitch for their game is set for 2 p.m. Thursday in Greensburg.
The winner of that game will move on to face the winner of the game between Seton Hill and Shippensburg, while the losers will square off in a double-elimination consolation bracket contest.
Junior 6-foot-2 left-hander Jarrett Heilman could get the mound start for Mercyhurst Thursday. The Freeport graduate was among the top pitchers in Division II this season.
Heilman is 6-2 in 11 starts this season with a 1.38 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and .220 opponent’s batting average. He struck out 64 batters in 65 innings.
Norwin graduate Jacob Bazala has also been tough for the Lakers on the mound in 2023. The sophomore right-hander is 4-2 in 14 appearances, 8 starts, with a 3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .218 opponent’s batting average and 60 strikeouts.
No. 3 seed Washington & Jefferson (31-12) will open the NCAA tournament with a game at 2:30 p.m. Friday against No. 2 seed Misericordia (33-12), which is hosting the four-team regional site in Dallas, Pa.
The winner of the game will face the winner of the first-round contest between No. 1 seed Salve Regina (37-8-1) and No. 4 seed Keystone (30-12) at 11 a.m. Saturday.
W&J won the Presidents’ Athletic Conference tournament championship Saturday with a 12-3 victory against Saint Vincent at Ross Memorial Park in Washington.
Tyler Horvat and Nolan Lutz lead the Presidents at the plate.
Horvat, a Penn-Trafford graduate, finished eighth in the PAC with a .392 batting average, while Lutz, a South Fayette graduate, hit .385.
A right-handed pitcher and outfielder, Horvat had a PAC-best 11-2 record with a 3.29 ERA, which is good for third lowest in the conference. He struck out 82 batters with 18 walks in 90 1/3 innings.
Point Park wasted no time making its presence known in the opening round of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship tournament with a pair of impressive victories on its first day in Upland, Ind.
The No. 4 seed Pioneers began Monday by exploding for a 20-3 victory against No. 5 seed Fisher College (Mass.) before returning to Winterholter Field later in the day to upset the Upland bracket’s No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan, 8-4.
Point Park (38-15) advances to play No. 2 seed Taylor (38-15) at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
And coach Loren Torres’ team will do so with the hopes their bats can remain as hot as they were a day earlier.
After Point Park fell behind, 3-1, through six innings against the fourth-ranked NAIA team in the country, Tennessee Wesleyan (42-10), the Pioneers took control with a five-run seventh inning and a two-run eighth.
Designated hitter Michali Brito hit a grand slam in the Point Park half of the seventh inning. He was 1 for 5 with four RBIs.
Junior outfielder Carlos Burroughs was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the game.
Burroughs and sophomore shortstop Carlos Martinez hit a grand slam each to lead the Pioneers’ offensive onslaught earlier in the day against Fisher (29-24). Both players were 2 for 4 with three runs scored.
Point Park ace right-hander Easton Klein, a 2018 Brentwood graduate, earned the mound win against Fisher to improve to 9-5 on the season. The senior conceded three runs, on nine hits, with six strikeout and two walks.
Sophomore Javier Cardoso improved to 9-2 on the season with the win against Tennessee Wesleyan. The right-hander allowed three runs, on six hits, with six strikeouts and two walks over 6 2/3 innings.
Senior Sebastian Rodriguez picked up his sixth save of the season for Point Park. He worked 2 1/3 innings, striking out four, and conceding a run on four hits.