Westfield State will open its stay in the 2019 NCAA Tournament with a game against #19 ranked Ithaca College a 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17 at Jim Hynes Stadium on the campus of Kean University in Union, N.J.
The Owls are part of a four-team, double-elimination regional bracket that includes the hosts, Kean University playing Shenandoah (Va.) University in the other first round game.
Friday's winners will meet at 3:30 on Saturday, with Friday's losers falling into a noon elimination game. Play continues Saturday evening and Sunday until one team is left standing. The winner of the regional will square off in a best of three Super-Regional next weekend against the winner of the Johns Hopkins regional site.
The Owls (27-14) make their second straight NCAA appearance and their 11th overall. Westfield lost a pair of close games in the 2018 NCAA regional in Auburn, N.Y., falling to Cortland, 5-4 and Baldwin-Wallace, 3-2.
Westfield will bring a veteran club into the 2019 regional, with nine seniors on the squad, including two-time MASCAC player of the year Anthony Crowley. The Owls all-time home run leader, Crowley is flirting with the .400 mark for the season while cracking nine home runs and nine doubles.
Senior shortstop Colin Dunn, sophomore outfielder Nick Martin, and junior catcher Jake Gibb and junior utilityman Casey Boudreau were all named to the MASCAC all-conference team, and gives the lineup depth along with senior first baseman Aaron Clancy, who was named the MASCAC tournament MVP while going 7-10 in the final three game of the tourney.
Senior left-handed starter John Gegetskas is the ace of the Owls staff, he comes off throwing a no-hitter in the MASCAC semifinals. The Owls all-time leader in strikeouts, he's fanned 83 hitters in 69 innings of work so far this season, and has record of 6-3 with one save.
Sophomore Shane Bogli, a transfer from Division II Post University has stepped into the Owls second starter role with aplomb, posting an 8-2 record so far this season and is just one win shy of tying a 43-year old school record for wins in a season.
The Ithaca Bombers (31-7) have been a perennial NCAA Tournament team, making their 48th appearance in the tournament, and won national championships in 1980 and 1988. The Bombers are ranked 19th in the ABCA national poll and 21st in the D3Baseball.com poll.
The Bombers have swung the bats well, to the tune of a .312 batting average this season. Catcher Adam Gallagher has done the most damage with a .358 average, 12 doubles and eight homeruns to go with a team-best 35 rbi.
First baseman Buzz Shirley leads the club with a .398 average and 14 doubles.
Ithaca starters Emmett Dunn (7-2, 1.75 ERA) and Jake Binder (7-3, 2.56) have the top numbers on the Ithaca staff, while senior right-hander Matt Eiel has a team high 15 appearances out of the bullpen and three saves on the season.
Kean picked up an at-large bid to the tournament
The Cougars (29-14) are making their 15th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and have appeared in the finals in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2013, culminating with the team's national championship in 2007.
Shenandoah has an interesting connection to the Owls, as Westfield State sophomore centerfielder Michael Cruz transferred to Westfield after one season in Virginia.
Shenandoah (31-12) is making their 10th trip in the NCAA Tournament, all since 2009. The Hornets clinched an automatic bid into the bracket with five wins in the ODAC Tournament.
Kean and Shenandoah are each receiving votes in the D3Baseball.com poll.
NCAA Digital Game Program (Owls on Page 36)