Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Captains Park Primed to Host NCAA Super Regional as No. 10 CNU Takes On No. 11 Misericordia in Best of Three Series

(Erin Farina/CNU Athletics)

NEWPORT NEWS — In a rematch of the 2019 NCAA Regional Championship, the tenth-ranked Christopher Newport baseball team will welcome 11th-ranked Misericordia for postseason action this weekend in the 2024 NCAA Division III Newport News Super Regional. The best-of-three series will be played at Captains Park starting at Noon on Friday with game two slated for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 25 with a third, if necessary, scheduled 45 minutes following the conclusion of game two.

Christopher Newport (29-10) advanced to the program’s first ever Super Regional after capturing the Newport News Regional Championship. The NCAA went to the Super Regional format in 2019 — prior to that, CNU had won three regional titles and advanced to the Division III College Baseball Championship in 2002, 2003, and 2012.

Misericordia (36-9) is riding a nine-game winning stream and have won 29 of their last 31 games. The Cougars are making the team’s 12th NCAA Tournament appearance after reaching their second NCAA Division III World Series last season.

Friday’s game will be the sixth matchup all-time against the Cougars for Christopher Newport. CNU earned a pair of wins in the 2006 regular season before Misericordia earned a 3-0 series win in the best-of-five series during the 2019 NCAA Regional.

Tickets to Captains Park will be sold on site, cash only, with prices at $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Christopher Newport students will be admitted free of charge, courtesy of CNU Athletics. For fans unable to attend in person, live stats and a live video stream will be available on CNUsports.com.

The similarities between the two teams include a pair of top-20 ranked pitching staffs in Division III this season. Christopher Newport leads the nation with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings and ranks third in the country in ERA with a 3.39 mark; Misericordia ranks 14th with a 3.72 team ERA and keeps opponents off the basepaths with a 1.34 WHIP, ranking 18th in the nation.

Another similarity comes at the top of the lineup, where CNU sophomore shortstop Josh Reinhold and Cougars right fielder Garrett McIlhenney boast a unique connection. The two players concluded a pair of the NCAA’s longest on-base streaks in Division III history this year as McIlhenney wrapped up an 87-game stretch and Reinhold, who has reached in all but one game during his career, finished out a 75-game roll reaching base for the Captains. Both rank in the top-five in NCAA history and both earned first team All-Conference honors this season.

CNU is led by fifth-year starting pitcher, Dylan Weber, who is 9-1 with a 1.61 ERA this season while leading Division III in strikeouts with a program-record 130 in 2024. Weber was named the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year for a second straight season and has etched his name atop a host of Christopher Newport records during his final season wearing the Royal Blue and Silver. Joining him in the rotation this season, sophomore Brandon Cassedy has also struck out over 100 this season as the pair became just the second duo in program history to reach the century mark in the same year. Cassedy is 7-3 overall with a 3.78 ERA and was named the NCAA Regional Most Outstanding Player after winning one game and saving the regional championship against nationally-ranked North Carolina Wesleyan.

At the plate, CNU is led by Reinhold, hitting .337 with 57 hits, and junior Lincoln Lubsen, adding a .329 average and a team-best 47 RBI. Senior Scott Crosson has delivered 12 extra-base hits and is hitting .324 while sophomore Ayden Stuffel has caught fire in the second half of the season, hitting a team-high .379 over the last 21 games.

Misericordia will counter with a patented brand of baseball that causes fits for opponents year in and year out. Under 17th-year head coach Pete Egbert, the Cougars have won over 500 games including 36 this season. Misericordia ranks seventh nationally in sacrifice bunts and ninth in Division III in stolen bases.

Led by MAC Freedom Player of the Year Connor Maryniak, Misericordia reaches base at a .433 clip, ranked 15th in Division III. Maryniak ranks 9th in the country in ERA while also a top 30 player in total bases as an offensive player. He has set program records for RBI (67) and total bases (122) while also tying the school record in home runs (13). In addition to his talents at the plate, Maryniak also boasts a 9-2 overall record with a 1.96 ERA. McIlhenney is hitting a team-high .403 and has reached base in 119 of his last 120 games. In addition to the headliners, the Cougars feature a second pitcher among the nation’s elite in Joe Valenti, who set the program record with 87.1 innings pitched. This season, he is 9-2 with a 2.10 ERA.

Following Friday’s Game One, the two teams will return to Captains Park on Saturday morning with a berth to the 2024 NCAA Division III College World Series on the line.

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