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Denison baseball to play in NCAA Regional at Adrian College

Denison will play in the 2019 NCAA Division III Tournament  |  Photo by Levi Rex
Denison will play in the 2019 NCAA Division III Tournament | Photo by Levi Rex

GRANVILLE, Ohio--  After capturing the 2019 North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Denison will take a program-best 38-7 record into the NCAA Tournament.  On Monday's NCAA Selection Show it was announced that the Big Red will travel to Adrian, Michigan on May 17-19 for a four-team regional tournament.  Denison is the top-seed at the tournament and will face La Roche (Pa.) in the opening game on Friday, May 17 at a time to be determined.  Heidelberg and Adrian will play in the other opening round game.

Denison is led offensively by junior first baseman Will Krushena and sophomore shortstop Max Lahn.  Krushena ranks second in the nation in runs batted in with 68.  He is batting .393 with 21 doubles and five home runs.  He opened the season with a school-record 28-game hitting streak and hit for the cycle in Denison's 12-9 win over Kenyon on April 16.

Lahn boasts the nation's seventh-best batting average at .438 in addition to his .531 on-base percentage.  He has had 24 multi-hit games in 2019.

Senior starting pitcher Danny Brackman leads a balanced and deep pitching staff that is a mixture of youth and experience.  Brackman is 8-2 and leads the team with 71 strikeouts in 74.0 IP.  Sophomore Taylor Perrett boasts a 3.53 ERA and is coming off a complete game shutout of Allegheny in the NCAC Tournament that landed him on the All-Tournament Team.

As a team, Denison is averaging 8.8 runs per game which is good for ninth out of 386 teams in Division III.  The Big Red have been sound in all three phases and the defense has been spectacular.  Their .971 fielding percentage has them ranked in the top-10 in Division III.

Denison head coach Mike Deegan is in his seventh season leading the Big Red. He became the program's all-time leader in wins earlier this season and brings a 191-100 (.656) record into the NCAA Tournament.  Over the last three seasons, DU has won 99 games with a .756 winning percentage.

This is Denison's second-straight NCAA Tournament berth.  The Big Red was an at-large selection in 2018 and were sent to the Holly Springs, North Carolina regional.  

Adrian Regional Notebook

Cam the Man:  Freshman outfielder Cam Farren was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCAC Tournament after hitting .625 (10-for-16). He is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak.

Insta-Troll:  Senior pitcher John Troll has been Denison's long man out of the bullpen in 2019. He was integral in Denison's NCAC Tournament championship, going 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 9.2 IP. Troll started Saturday's deciding championship game and pitched five innings, allowing one earned run.  He is 8-0 with one save in 50.2 IP in 2019.

Stacked:  Eight of Denison's nine regular starters boast batting averages over .300.  Denison's .344 team batting average ranks fifth in Division III.

I Made Sacrifices:  Denison may boast one of the most potent offenses in the country, but they are not afraid to play small ball.  The Big Red lead the nation in sacrifice flies (40) and rank seventh in sacrifice bunts (45).

Krushed Up:  Will Krushena has started all 45 games in the middle of the Denison order and he is enjoying one of the best seasons in program history.  He is second in the nation in RBIs (68) and ranks fourth in doubles (21) while batting .393.  Krushena enjoyed a 28-game hitting streak to start the season and hit for the cycle in Denison's 12-9 win over Kenyon on April 16.  He is also batting .636 (7-for-11) with the bases loaded.

Return of the Mac:  Brian McAuliffe leads the team in home runs with 10 and has provided some serious punch out of the No. 5 spot in the batting order.  His .647 slugging percentage is tops on the team. He also enjoyed a 21-game hitting streak during which he batted .386 with seven home runs.

Get off my Lahn: In his first year as a regular starter, Max Lahn has established himself as one of the top hitters both regionally, and nationally.  Lahn leads Denison with a .438 batting average and is even better at getting on base.  His on-base percentage of .531 lands him 12th in D-III.  Lahn reached base safely in 36-straight games earlier this season. 

Back-End Arms:  The back end of the bullpen is anchored by senior Mikey Rivera and freshman Henry Haack.  Rivera is second in career saves at Denison with 17.  This season, Rivera has seven saves and a 4.24 ERA in 34.0 IP.  Haack has pitched in 18 games and carries a 2.16 ERA in 29.1 IP with one save.

Backstop Platoon:  Brad Baldinger and Daniel Spencer form a formidable backstop for Mike Deegan's club.  Baldinger is batting .352 in 25 starts and Spencer is hitting .370 in 20 starts behind the plate.  Baldinger is also a member of the Denison football team and will be competing for the starting quarterback job when camp opens in August.

Where the Skies are Blue:  Ty Robinson uses Sweet Home Alabama as his walk-up song for a reason. The sophomore hails from Hoover, Alabama and is third on the team in doubles (13) and is batting .417 with runners in scoring position.

Walk it off:  Vince Walker enters the NCAA Tournament on a tear. He is batting .407 over the last 10 games.  Walker is hitting .321 with a .429 OBP in 42 games played.

Turning 40:  Despite a myriad of weather issues, Denison was one of the few teams in the region to play a full 40 game regular season. They were aided by two early season doubleheaders that were played at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  The Big Red enters the NCAA Tournament with 38 wins.  No Denison baseball team has ever reached the 40-win milestone.

Don't Gimme No Lip:  Kenny Lippman is one of three key freshman pitchers for the Big Red in 2019. He is joined by left-handed starter Will McManaman and reliever Henry Haack.  Lippman got the start in Denison's 5-3 win over Wooster in Game 6 of the NCAC Tournament. The victory forced the if-necessary championship game that went to the Big Red, 7-5.

Back for Seconds:  This is Denison's second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.  The first came last season when the Big Red earned an at-large bid to last year's postseason after going 32-10.

So Many Streaks:  Six different Denison players have had hitting streaks of 10-games or longer in 2019.  Krushena's 28-game streak led the way but third baseman Brian McAuliffe put together a 21-game streak that lasted from March 27 until May 4.  Cam Farren's 10-game hitting streak is the top active hitting streak.  As a team, Denison set a program record with a 17-game winning streak that stretched from March 21 until April 20.

Home Cooking:  Denison went 13-1 at home in 2019 and over the last three seasons the Big Red are 39-6 at Big Red Field.

No Overtime:  Denison is yet to play an extra-innings contest in 2019. The Big Red is 32-0 when leading after eight innings.

Doing the little things:  Second baseman Anthony Ruggieri has been called on to do the little things all season, boasting a .978 fielding percentage while totaling six sacrifice flies and six sac bunts.

Early Offense: The Big Red has been outstanding in the first inning, outscoring opponents 56-14 in the opening frame.

De facto OAC Champs:  While Denison recently claimed its first North Coast Athletic Conference Championship last weekend, its success against the Ohio Athletic Conference in recent years is eye-popping.  Dating back to the 2016 season, the Big Red has rattled off 25 consecutive wins against OAC opponents.  This year, DU went 9-0 against the OAC.

Opponent History:  Denison and La Roche will be playing for only the third time on Friday and the first time since 2014. The Big Red defeated La Roche 6-1 in 2013 and suffered a 15-0 loss to the Red Hawks in 2014.  Heidelberg and Denison are familiar opponents and last met on April 24 in Granville. Denison prevailed 8-2 powered by four RBIs from Ty Robinson.  Adrian and Denison have only met three on the diamond, first in 2009 and most recently in 2108.  The Big Red is 2-1, all-time against the Bulldogs.