ROAD TO THE FINALS: BIRMINGHAM SOUTHERN
The Birmingham-Southern College Panthers reached the NCAA Division III National Championship series via the winner's bracket, winning all three games to reach the final series. They beat Heidelberg College 6-1 in the opening round to face Johns Hopkins the next day. The Panthers came away with a 10-inning 4-3 victory in which they came from behind to walk off against the Blue Jays. Birmingham-Southern faced off against Johns Hopkins again the next day, routing the side 14-6 to send the Blue Jays home.
ROAD TO THE FINALS: CHAPMAN
The Chapman University baseball team entered the winner's bracket after beating Washington and Jefferson 6-3 in the first game of the World Series. A tough 10-6 loss to the University of Massachusetts Boston Beacons put the Panthers at risk for elimination. Knowing just one loss would send them packing, Chapman fought hard to win three games in a row, including two more against the Beacons. The Panthers turned around after their Saturday afternoon loss to beat Washington and Jefferson and eliminate the Presidents on Sunday morning to keep their playoff hopes alive. Chapman then beat the Beacons twice in a row, both my scores of 8-4, to reach the National Championship series.
This is the first time in program history Birmingham-Southern and Chapman are facing off against each other. Birmingham-Southern has posted a 42-13 overall record and have won their last seven games in a row to get the National Championship. Chapman is 42-12 on the season for their best record since 2008. This is the first time in program history that Birmingham-Southern is in the College World Series, as opposed to Chapman's 11th appearance. There is only one common team on the Panthers' respective schedules that both teams have played – the Piedmont College Lions. Both teams earned victories over the top-25 Lions this season.
RECORD BOOK RE-WRITE
Chapman has been re-writing both Chapman and NCAA Division III record books this week in Iowa. In the Panthers' fourth game of the World Series, Chapman broke the Division III record for team strikeouts in a single season. The Panther pitching staff reached 507 strikeouts, shattering the previous record of 502 set by North Carolina Wesleyan in 1998. Chapman added on to their own record, throwing six strikeouts in its fifth game to reach 513 strikeouts on the season. Sophomore Cody Turner broke the Chapman single-season appearance record with his 32nd appearance this season. The Panthers also set the single-season record for games played, competing in their 53rd game this season.
Sophomores Henry Zeisler and Mack Cheli, junior Aaron Wong, and freshman Brad Shimabuku have come up clutch in the World Series. Zeisler is batting an incredible .632 (12-for-19) with seven runs scored, four walks and two RBI. Cheli has knocked in five runs, including a huge triple in the fifth game that knocked in one run for the Panthers. Wong is batting .421 (8-for-19) with some clutch hits for Chapman. The junior knocked a huge bases-clearing single in the Panthers' fourth game to help extend the lead and hit a two-RBI triple in game five to complete the comeback effort for Chapman. Rookie Shimabuku has stepped up as the number two hitter for Chapman, hitting .450 (9-for-20) in the series with four RBIs, three walks and a monster triple.
BONUS: SURPRISE FROM THE ANKENY'S
The Chapman baseball team received a little surprise on Monday morning before their elimination game against UMass Boston – the Ankeny family flew all the way from California to support the squad on the road to the National Championship. The family dropped everything to be there for the Panthers as they compete on the biggest stage – and they don't plan on leaving any time soon. Donning Chapman University gear and Carter Strong Forever t-shirts and wristbands, the Ankeny family cheered for the Panthers with their angel in the outfield.
by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant