MEQUON, Wis. – The last two seasons, the Concordia University Wisconsin Baseball team has reached the NACC Baseball Tournament Championship. The Falcons will be hosting the tournament for the fourth straight season, beginning Thursday, and are aiming to take that next step at the 2016 NACC Baseball Tournament.
The Falcons finished the regular season with a 23-17 record and tied for second in the NACC with a 13-7 league mark. CUW closed the season strong, winning five games in a row and eight of its final nine contests. The Falcons are the fourth seed in the six-team tournament, and will open against MSOE Thursday at 1 p.m.
CUWFalcons.com takes you inside some of the things you need to know to get ready for the 2016 NACC Baseball Tournament.
THE FIELD: Concordia Chicago has won the tournament each of the three seasons it has been held at Kapco Park and the Cougars are once again the favorites, entering as the No. 1 seed. CUC is also ranked 19th in the latest D3Baseball.com poll. Benedictine will be the No. 2 seed, winning a tiebreaker over No. 3 Aurora and the Falcons. MSOE makes its first-ever NACC Tournament appearance, while Dominican rounds out the field.
Click here for the 2016 NACC Baseball Tournament Page.
Thursday, May 12
Game 1, 10 a.m.: #6 Dominican vs. #3 Aurora
Game 2, 1 p.m.: #5 MSOE vs. #4 Concordia Wisconsin
Game 3, 4 p.m.: Highest Winning Seed vs. #2 Benedictine
Game 4, 7 p.m.: Lowest Winning Seed vs. #1 Concordia Chicago
Friday, May 13
Game 5, 10 a.m.: Game-1-Loser vs. Game-2-Loser
Game 6, 1 p.m.: Game-3-Loser vs. Game-4-Loser
Game 7, 4 p.m.: Game-5-Winner vs. Game-6-Winner
Game 8, 7 p.m.: Game-3-Winner vs. Game-4-Winner
Saturday, May 14
Game 9, 10 a.m.: Game-7-Winner vs. Game-8-Loser
Game 10, 1 p.m.: Game-8-Winner vs. Game-9-Winner
Sunday, May 15
Game 11, 12 p.m.: Game-10-Winner vs. Game-10-Loser, if necessary
FALCONS VS THE FIELD: CUW was 4-6 against the rest of the NACC Tournament field during the regular season. The Falcons swept Dominican and split doubleheaders against MSOE and Aurora, while falling twice against Concordia Chicago and Benedictine.
PROJECTED LINEUP: CUW has seemingly set in on a lineup over the past few weeks, but of course changes could always come. Last season in the NACC Tournament opener, Mitchell Dubnicka belted two home runs in just his second start in over a month to lift the Falcons to a win over Edgewood. Here is what CUWFalcons.com projects for the starting lineup.
Dan Ranieri – Second Base - .271, 25 runs, 11 RBI
Mitchell Dubnicka – Designated Hitter - .343, 30 runs, 22 RBI
Nathan Thyssen – Left Field - .366, 31 runs, 18 RBI,
Kyle Hilliard – Catcher - .418, 18 runs, 29 RBI
Bryan Thomas – Right Field - .337, 23 runs, 20 RBI
Isaac Tewes – First Base - .232, 23 runs, 30 RBI
Matt Schubert – Shortstop - .317, 25 runs, 29 RBI
Anthony Lombardi – Center Field - .286, 7 runs, 4 RBI
Nate Van Ells – Third Base - .192, 20 runs, 18 RBI
STARTING ROTATION: The Falcons have received some quality pitching efforts over their late-season success. Expect the trio of senior Andrew Mueller (Horicon, Wis.), junior Andrew Heideman (Bakersfield, Calif.) and freshman Seth Hougesen (Indianapolis, Ind.) to lead the way, one of the three likely getting the ball in game one. Also factoring into the staff this weekend will be Dylan Gausman, Tyler Gross, Josh Ruppel, Joey Schuman and Mike Magdziarz, among others.
HOME FIELD: The Falcons do have the benefit of playing the NACC Tournament at home, and no one is more excited about that than the Falcons pitchers. CUW owns a 2.37 ERA at home this season, compared to an ERA of over 6.00 on away from Kapco Park. The Falcons are 10-5 at Kapco Park in 2016.
OUTLOOK: It should be another competitive NACC Baseball Tournament at Kapco Park Thursday through Saturday, or Sunday. The Falcons seem to be playing their best baseball of the season at the right time, as they look to make another strong run in 2016.