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The Courier

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COD Baseball Places Fourth at NJCAA Division III Baseball World Series

After a tumultuous season, the Chaps made their first trip to nationals since 1993, however, failed to keep the momentum from their late-season victories.
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Juan Doñez

The College of DuPage baseball team placed fourth in the NJCAA Division III Baseball World Series in Auburn, N.Y. on May 28 in their first trip to nationals since 1993. Going into the tournament as the seventh seed out of eight institutions, the Chaparrals faced four teams and finished with a 2-2 record (33-18 overall).

After a 31-year absence from the national stage, assistant coach Matt Gould felt accomplished with what the team had achieved in the short time that they were in New York, especially after a rocky start to their season.

“The team made me proud by how they performed,” Gould said. “Not just the physical play on the field, [but] you can tell they were mentally locked in and focused on the task. I couldn’t be more proud of how they handled a high-pressure situation.”

Game One VS Dallas College – Richland

COD played and lost their first game of the tournament on May 25 against Dallas College – Richland from Dallas, Texas. The Chaparrals kept up with the second-seeded Thunderducks before suffering a defensive lapse and giving up eight runs in the fourth inning. Unable to respond, the Chaps fell to the Thunderducks 15-7.

Sophomore outfielder Jake Pauley secured one run in the fourth inning and two RBIs. His RBIs brought home freshmen infielders Jack Wade in the second inning and Hudson Williams in the fourth. Overall, Pauley smacked two hits, including a double, in three at-bats.

Wade went two-for-three at the plate and scored a second run in the fourth inning after being batted in by Pauley in the second.

The Chaps tried on four different pitchers in their first game, but freshman starter A.J. McEneany was tagged with the loss. He threw three strikeouts and walked two batters, but gave up 11 hits and 11 runs through three innings. The other pitchers featured were freshmen Jimmy Traficanti and Michael Tuman, and sophomore Ryne Willard closed the game.

Game Two VS St. Cloud Technical & Community College

DuPage looked to bounce back on May 26 on day two of the tournament against sixth-seeded St. Cloud Technical & Community College from St. Cloud, Minn. The Chaparrals saw a better day on the mound, striking out 11 total batters to the Cyclones’ five. Holding it down on both sides of the ball, COD beat St. Cloud 6-3 to pick up their first win in the tournament.

Freshman infielder Vinny Spotofora had two hits in four at-bats. He also recorded one RBI and stole one base. From third base, Spotofora made four assists. He said the Chaps performed well under pressure in their first elimination game of the tournament.

“It was a great game,” Spotofora said. “Defense and timely hits helped us the most. We were the youngest team there, and we showed that we belonged.”

Pauley had one hit in three at-bats. He walked once and scored two runs. Williams scored another two runs for the Chaps in the in third and sixth innings, and sophomore utility Quinn Flanagan scored the remaining two runs in the third and fourth innings.

Freshman pitcher Eddie Scaccia locked down his eighth win of the year. He threw nine strikeouts and walked four batters. Scaccia allowed three hits in six and two-thirds innings and gave up two runs. Freshman pitcher Ryan Sigale secured his second save of the postseason after throwing one strikeout in the ninth inning.

Game Three VS Herkimer County Community College

The Chaparrals saw continued success on May 27 against Herkimer County Community College from Herkimer, N.Y. COD stunned the fifth-seeded Generals by scoring three runs in the first inning. The Chaps kept Herkimer down on defense to win 3-1 and their second game at nationals.

“I have to give credit to [Herkimer pitcher] Sotoro Yoshida,” Gould said. “We scored three [runs] off of him in the first [inning], and then we got nothing after that. We had to make a three-run lead last nine innings.”

Freshman outfielder Joe Pender notched two hits in four at-bats. He scored one run and put out one runner from the field. Commenting on the Generals’ defense, he showed admiration for the opposing pitcher.

“That was a tough game,” Pender said. “The pitcher was super good, but we were able to score early and then shut them down defensively.”

Sophomore catcher Filip Milatovic hit one double in three at-bats. He scored one run and picked up two RBIs, bringing home Pender and Flanagan in the first inning. Fielding, he put out five runners and made one assist.

Freshman pitcher Aidan Pieniazek earned the win in his start, throwing four strikeouts and walking two batters through five innings. He allowed only three hits and one run.

Sigale secured the save after giving up no hits or runs and walking one batter in the ninth inning.

Game Four VS Dallas College – Eastfield

COD’s playoff run came to an end against Dallas College – Eastfield from Mesquite, Texas on May 28. The Chaparrals went back and forth with the third-seeded Harvester Bees, but Eastfield scored in the ninth to break the tie and knock out DuPage. COD fell to Eastfield 10-9 to split 2-2 and place fourth in the NJCAA Division III Baseball World Series.

Spotofora knocked one hit in three at-bats. He walked twice, scored two runs and recorded one RBI bringing home Pender in the first inning. In the field, Spotofora put out two runners and made four assists. He said the game came down to a fortunate play made by the Harvester Bees.

“[This game] was a big deal because the winner got to play Richland, who beat us both earlier in the tournament,” Spotofora said. “Everyone did their job, but they just ended up getting that timely walk-off to put us away.”

Freshman first baseman Mark Mennecke recorded two hits in five at-bats. He secured three RBIs. In the field, Mennecke put out 10 runners.

Along with their fourth-place finish, COD won the NJCAA DIII sportsmanship award. They also had five players named to First Team All-Region honors and two players to Second Team All-Region honors. First Team honors recipients include Milatovic, Pender, Pieniazek, Spotofora and Williams. Sophomore outfielder Aden Aukland and freshman pitcher A.J. McEneany were the Second Team recipients.

Pender thanked his team for putting him in a spot to succeed throughout the season.

“It felt great to get recognized,” he said. “I think my teammates helped me a lot this year, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Spotofora was also grateful to be named.

“It felt amazing,” Spotofora said. “It showed that all of [my] work paid off for the year.”

Gould said he was confident the Chaps could make an appearance next year.

“I think we’re more than capable of going back as is,” he said. “The sophomores stepping up and showing the freshman how things are done will help us get back. If we’re all on the same page, we can get back.”

If you want to learn more about this season of COD baseball, visit gochapsgo.com.

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