WCU Baseball looks to defend Division II National Title in NCAA Tournament

The Golden Rams bring a 31-15 record into the tournament.

Matt Leon
May 16, 2018 - 2:04 pm
Jared Melone / West Chester Baseball

West Chester University Athletics

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- The West Chester University baseball team will look to defend its national title when it opens play in the Division II NCAA Tournament on Friday in West Lawn, Pennsylvania.

The Golden Rams bring a 31-15 record into the tournament and they are the top seed in the Atlantic Regional.

"Obviously, just being in that top seed line means your regular season was strong, which it was for us," West Chester head coach Jad Prachniak tells KYW Newsradio. "The benefit, with the seven team bracket, we have an actual bye now. Basically, if things go well for us it is one less game that we have to play, if we can stay out of that losers bracket."

West Chester will open play on Friday against the winner of the Bloomsburg/Mercyhurst game.

West Chester comes into the national tournament after a surprisingly quick exit from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Tournament. The Golden Rams were eliminated after losing their first two games to Seton Hill and Slippery Rock.

"That opening game, I thought Seton Hill played really well," Prachniak says. "We faced a tough pitcher that threw well against us. They had some good at bats early and they got off to a lead. We never found our rhythm in that game. Then in the second game against Slippery Rock, I thought we played basically six-plus really good innings. Obviously, Slippery Rock was a tough team and we were up 4-2 and then we had some miscues defensively that led to two really big innings for them. They definitely cashed in on our mistakes. I think it was a good example for us of just when you get to the postseason how small that margin is and if you give a team, especially a strong offense, additional outs, they are going to cash in on it and it is tough to overcome that in the postseason."

Last season, West Chester went a perfect 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament. That will be hard to duplicate, but Prachniak knows what his team has to do to have success in the tourney once again.

"I think the first thing is scoring against really good pitching," he says. "So regardless of who we see in that matchup of Mercyhurst/Bloomsburg, I know they'll both have good pitching available. So it's putting together good at bats against good pitching. That's been a strength for us this year. We've done really well in conference play scoring and we're definitely going to need to put up some crooked numbers along the way."

West Chester's first game on Friday afternoon will be at 3:00.

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