HEADED TO THE BIG APPLE(TON)
Who’d a thunk it, the Roanoke College baseball team in the Division III World Series?
The Maroons left for Appleton, Wisconsin on Tuesday, stopping in Cincinnati on the way to take in the Reds game with the Cleveland Indians Tuesday night. The hope is that won’t be the highlight of their trip.
Roanoke is one of eight teams in the Division III tournament at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton. It will be the first trip to the NCAA tournament for the Maroons, but not for coach Matt McGuire. He attended the NCAA tournament at Salem Memorial Stadium in Salem.
“I can remember going to those games when I was in high school,” he said. “It was good baseball and it was a lot of fun.”
Salem hosted the tournament from 1995 to 1999. The first year the tournament was supposed to be in our new ballpark, but it wasn’t quite ready in the spring and the tournament was held at Kiwanis Field as LaVerne College beat Methodist in the final.
The next four years were in our brand new ballpark. I was official scorer for all five years and it was a memorable experience. As much as I love baseball, that first day was tough. College baseball games often last three hours or more and I had to pay attention to every pitch of the four games played that day, followed by four more games on the second day. Then, in the first year, I got ill late in the evening from eating too much free fried food in the press tent and Brad Bankston had to come out of the bullpen to score the final few innings of the last game.
The tournament left for Wisconsin after the 1999 season and it’s been there ever since. I’d say that’s now a permanent home, but I thought the same thing about the Stagg Bowl until a couple months ago. Someday someone will build a bigger ballpark and make the NCAA an offer they can’t refuse, but for now this will be the 18th straight tournament in Appleton.
Trinity of Texas, yes the same Trinity that won the Stagg Bowl in December, is the reigning NCAA baseball champion for another few days. Trinity is not in this year’s tournament, and in fact none of the eight teams competing has ever won the World Series. So, someone is going to be a first time winner.
The Maroons represent the South Region, and only twice in the tournament’s history has the South Region won the tournament. Both times it was North Carolina Wesleyan, in 1989 in Bristol, Connecticut and in 1999 in the final year the tournament was in Salem.
“We’re proud to represent the conference,” said McGuire. “The team that gets hot at the right time is the team that gets there, and this year we’re that team.”
NCAA EVENTS HERE AS WELL
While the Maroons head to Wisconsin for the NCAA baseball tournament, two other NCAA tournaments will be right here in Salem. The Division II softball tournament is scheduled for the Moyer Complex and the Division III lacrosse championship is at Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.
The softball championship begins Thursday and competitors include Angelo State, Humboldt State, West Virginia Wesleyan, Molloy, MSU-Mankato, Southern Indiana, Armstrong and West Florida. The double elimination tournament concludes Monday on Memorial Day.
The lacrosse tournament at RC should draw a nice crowd as Washington & Lee of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference is one of the four teams in the field. They’ll join the The College of New Jersey, Gettysburg and Trinity of Connecticut.
Semifinals are noon and 3:30 pm on Saturday, and W&L will play TCNJ in the noon game. The championship is scheduled for 3:30 pm on Sunday.