Last weekend, the North Central College baseball team made it to the NCAA DIII College World Series for only the second time in program history — the only other time being way back in the 1980s. Coming off of two comeback wins in the Central Regional Tournament, the Cardinals were ready to do some damage in Appleton, Wis. Things seemed pretty tight in their first game against #19 UMass Boston until the Cardinals managed to break away in the eighth inning scoring two off a John Carmody RBI double and following with a Sing Fong RBI single that added another run on the board.
Their second game of the tournament against #15 California Lutheran proved to be a bit more of a challenge as they ended up losing by a final score of 14-5. Game three brought them back to familiar territory, again facing off against UMass Boston. This time around, the Beacons made things a little tougher for the Cardinals who ended up winning the game in the bottom of the ninth off of a fielding error that brought in freshman Colin Weilbacher. The final score of that game was 5-4.
In game four, the Cardinals ran into yet another familiar team, facing off against California Lutheran in a game that would decide their World Series fate. The two teams stayed tight for the first few innings until the Kingsman broke away with a five-run rally in the fourth. The Cardinals managed to pull within two runs in the eighth, but it wouldn’t be enough as California Lutheran walked away as winners — and eventually the DIII College World Series champions.
The Cardinals finished their 2017 World Series run in fourth place with an overall record of 31-18 on the season. The team loses a handful of seniors who were a big part of their success this season. A couple of them had some parting words:
“My experience playing baseball has been fantastic. I was fortunate enough to participate here for all four years and couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share my experience with. What I’ll remember most about baseball is the competitiveness and being apart of a team like this where everyone is constantly pushing each other to get better as athletes and as people.” -Nick Anderson (’17)
“I’ll miss the game of baseball. More importantly, I’ll miss the amazing memories and friendships we shared together as a team. I’ll miss the different personalities on the team and how well we meshed.” -Sing Fong (’17)
The baseball team itself isn’t the only losing seniors as North Central’s radio station WONC will be losing its sports director and head play-by-play announcer, Will Dawes (’17), who had this to say about his time in Appleton:
“It was an awesome experience considering these were the first baseball postseason games ever broadcast by WONC. I got to know the team a bit better off the field. My favorite moment was Nick Sotiros’ two-run home run off the scoreboard that gave the Cardinals the lead in an elimination game. What I take away from this is that I’m honored to have been a part of this historic run and to have known such a great group of players and coaches.”
The Cardinals now face the challenge of filling those holes left by the graduating players and making another great run in 2018, but for now, they can rest knowing they finished as the best team in program history.