The NCAA South Regional came to a close Monday as Nova Southeastern defeated Delta State, 3-1. Unfortunately, the West Georgia Wolves fell one game short of the Championship round. They were eliminated in the semi-finals by Delta State.
West Georgia accomplished a lot throughout their 2016 season. It was only right as this year in sports has been incredible for the University. Football, basketball, and track won the Gulf South Conference, football made the final 4 for second consecutive year, baseball & basketball made the NCAA Tournament, Track is sending an individual to the National Championships, the list goes on. The Baseball team did an outstanding job this season and it seemed to be a near perfect ending to one of the best years in sports West Georgia has seen in a long time.
Here is a small list of some of the records and achievements that UWG baseball accomplished this year.
- 2nd most wins in school history (42)
- 3rd 40 win season in school history
- First NCAA appearance in 18 years
- Best record in 18 years
- Won 21 of 24 final reg. season games
- 15 Game win streak
- Ranked as high as #15 in the D2baseballnews.com Poll
- Ranked as high as #11 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Poll.
- Eliminated #1 seed in GSC tournament
- Eliminated #1 and #2 seeds in NCAA South Regional
- Eliminated #2 team overall, defending National Champs on their home field
- Finished 3rd in GSC Tournament
- 1 of the last 22 teams left in the NCAA Tournament
- First win vs a top-5 team in postseason play
- 5 All-Conference Players (3 First Team: Goldsmith, Lopes, & Hayes , 2 Second Team: Hutch & Rogers)
- 3 All-Region Players (Lopes, Norton, & Hayes)
- Caleb Lopes named to NCAA South Regional All-Tournament Team
- Matthew Norton reg. season record of 7-1, 2.86 ERA
- Brandon Goldsmith reg. season record of 9-1, 3.45 ERA
After losing the first game they played in the NCAA Tournament, West Georgia put together a very impressive 3 game win streak to get to the semi-finals.
The tournament started with an 11-4 loss to Nova Southeastern. The Sharks were the 3 seed coming into the tournament with West Georgia coming in at #6.
The game started off with great pitching from both sides and UWG got out to a 3-1 lead after falling behind, 1-0. The lead did not last very long as NSU responded in the same inning with 5 runs to take the 6-3 lead.
The Sharks didn't look back after that as they put up another run in the 6th, 3 in the 7th, and one more in the 8th to reach 11. UWG managed to put up one more run but that was it and they fell, 11-4.
This loss sent the Wolves to the losers bracket after the first day of the tournament. The next day, Friday the 20th, UWG took on Claflin University who came into the tournament with a 20-27 record.
After struggling in the regular season, Claflin put together a 4 game win streak to win the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and punch a bid to the NCAA tournament. They were given the #7 seed.
Claflin struggled big time in their first game, as they lost to West Florida, the #2 seed, 18-1. This sent them to the losers bracket after the first day as well.
UWG was clearly the better team than Claflin, but it took the Wolves a couple innings to get going. A rain delay caused the game to pause for a little over an hour. After the game resumed, Caleb Lopes hit a 3-run bomb to break up the scoreless affair.
West Georgia was able to add four more runs throughout the game for a total of 7. In the bottom of the 9th they gave up one run, but that was it. UWG won the game 7-1 and moved into the next round. Claflin was eliminated.
This set West Georgia up with the #1 team in the regional and the #2 team in the country, the University of Tampa. The Spartans had just been upset by #4 Delta State after receiving a 1st round bye. Tampa was also hosting the regional as they were the 1 seed, so they were playing on a field where they had already won 24 games. They finished the regular season with a 41-8 overall record. By the way, they were also the defending National Champions.
As you can see, a lot was on the line in this elimination game featuring Tampa and West Georgia, and the game lived up to the hype.
UWG scored all of their runs before the 5th inning, but it proved to be enough as they upset the defending National Champions on their home field. The Wolves scored two in the 1st, one in the 3rd, and one in the 4th and they won the game by a score of 4-3.
West Georgia's ace, senior Brandon Goldsmith, pitched a stellar game and got his tenth win of the year. This brought his record to 10-1 overall, but more importantly it moved his team one step closer to the College World Series.
This win put West Georgia in the Quarterfinals of the tournament on Saturday against West Florida, a team that they had already played 4 times in the year. Each team won two games in the regular season and the hits and runs were nearly even.
The Wolves did not get off to the hot start in this game like they did in the previous one. After the 5th inning the Wolves were down 5-0 and their chances of moving on were quickly fading.
West Florida added another run in the 6th with a solo homerun, and that made the score 6-0.
In the top of the 7th, UWG was able to get a run back as junior Caleb Lopes started the inning off with a walk. Senior Dalton Rogers then hit a double that allowed Lopes to advance to third. Then, senior Garrett Hayes knocked in Lopes with a ground ball. This was the only run of the inning, but the Wolves were now on the board.
They then held West Florida to no runs in the bottom of the 7th. Now, with only two innings left, UWG needed at lest five runs to not be eliminated.
The top of the 8th started off with another lead off walk, but then two outs followed. Now, with only 4 outs left between them and a long ride home, the pressure for runs was really on.
Junior Payton Mann then singled and Caleb Lopes followed that with another single which allowed freshman Cade Marlowe to score. Then, Dalton Rogers provided a spark with a 3-run bomb to right center to bring the Wolves to within one run. After the inning, West Georgia was now down 6-5 with one more chance.
They held the Argonauts to zero runs in the bottom of the 8th and now they had three outs to get at least one runner around the bases.
Senior Tyler Hutch started it off by pinch hitting. He was injured in the first game vs Nova Southeastern but coach Skip Fite gave the senior a chance in what could have been his last at bat. He came through in the clutch and hit a single to start off the inning. A pinch runner came in as Hutch was cheered on for executing beautifully.
A sacrifice bunt then moved the pinch runner, sophomore Jake Wilkinson, to 2nd base. Senior Keith Buckhault then hit the RBI all the Wolves fans in attendance had been hoping for as his single allowed Wilkinson to score and tie the game at 6.
West Georgia was then able to load the bases and Caleb Lopes hit a pop fly to the outfield that scored the go ahead run in the top of the 9th. After being down 6-0 early on, and 6-1 with just four outs left in the game, UWG was now up 7-6 on their conference rivals.
These were the only runs the Wolves put up and heading into the bottom of the 9th, West Georgia was now needing good defense to win the game. West Florida's first batter was retired but then they were able to get a runner on.
The next play was perfect for UWG as a ground ball was hit to the middle infield that allowed Caleb Lopes and junior Artemis Kadkhodaian to turn the 4-6-3 double play and end the game. The Wolves had completed the 6 run comeback and taken the game, 7-6. West Florida was eliminated.
The win moved UWG to the semi-finals of the tournament to take on Delta State. The two teams had already played 5 times on the year with DSU leading the series, 3 wins to 2.
This semi-final game was played exactly an hour after the comeback on West Florida was completed. Losing their first game had really put UWG in a bad spot fatigue and pitching wise, but the Wolves hadn't shown many signs of it thus far.
#30, junior Trent Fennell, got the start for West Georgia. This is when the fatigue start to set in on the Wolves. Now playing their third game in 24 hours and their fifth game in 4 days, the Wolves got down early.
The statesmen put up 1 run in the 1st and 2nd innings and 3 more in the 4th to give them the early 5-0 lead. West Georgia did not make it easy on Delta State, though.
They channeled their inner selves from about 2 and half hours earlier and mounted another comeback. Dalton Rogers (2), Garrett Hayes and Cade Marlowe all had RBI's to bring the score to 5-4 to end the 4th inning.
Unfortunately, that was the closest the Wolves got as DSU put up 8 more runs to West Georgia's 1 and the game ended with a final score of 13-5. Despite the somewhat lopsided victory, West Georgia was only outhit by Delta State 14-13. The Statesmen were just able to get hits at the right time and they eliminated the Wolves.
This brought West Georgia's final record to 42-16 and 3-2 in the NCAA South Regional. #4 Delta State went on to face #3 Nova Southeastern in the Championship round, needing two wins to advance. However, NSU defeated DSU in the first game, 3-1.
During the tournament, the broadcasters of the live stream kept telling the viewers to tweet them. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and began a conversation that led to this. Truly some inspiration for everyone interested in the field. Take a look! (Sorry about the low audio levels)
Below is a picture of the full South Regional Bracket. You can click on the picture if the font is too small to read.
2016 NCAA DII College World Series representatives
The Division II College World Series is set and 8 teams will now face off to get the title of National Champions.
Regional - Regional Seed, School
- Atlantic- #1 Millersville
- Central- #2 Central Missouri
- East- #1 Franklin Pierce
- Midwest- #4 Southern Indiana
- South- #3 Nova Southeastern
- South Central- #3 Angelo State
- Southeast- #2 Lander
- West- #3 Cal Poly Pomona
The 1st round of the tournament will start this Saturday the 28th and will continue into Sunday the 29th. Follow @D2RoadToCary on Twitter to keep up with the 2016 NCAA Division II College World Series.
To view the Regional brackets to see how these teams got to the College World Series, click this link.
I Hope you enjoyed my coverage of the NCAA tournament, head on over to Bwrightsports.com for everything going on at West Georgia and surrounding high schools.
Thanks for reading, Go Wolves!