Pitt State club team vies for World Series

Photos from the Great American South Regional Championship trophy presentation are courtesy of the NCBA.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – For the fifth year in a row, the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is bringing the National Club Baseball Association Division II World Series to Jaycee Ballpark. And, for the second year in a row, the Pittsburg State club team has a chance to win it all on their home turf

It was not an easy path back to the World Series for the Gorillas who play their first game on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

Following last season’s national championship loss to San Diego State, Pittsburg State started this season as the #1 team in the preseason poll. After a 4-7 start to the season, Pitt State fell from the poll and it looked like a return to the World Series was unlikely.

Then, they got hot. An eight game winning streak to end the regular season earned them the at-large-bid for Regionals. Following a second round loss in the double-elimination Regional tournament, Pitt State’s back was against the wall.

That’s when St. Mary’s-Colgan graduate Simon Higginbotham took control. Over two days, Higginbotham threw every pitch in three consecutive wins – 297 pitches total. One of the games went into extra innings, so Higginbotham actually threw three complete games over 24 innings, allowing only three earned runs and four walks during that time.

“This group had to replace ten seniors as well as deal with having eight guys quit from the start of the fall,” said Drew Roy, the Pitt State Club President and player, and a Webb City graduate. “We’re battle tested and that’s a huge testament to the guys that are still around and want to be a part of something special.”

“The biggest difference (from being an NCAA team) is the time commitment,” Roy said. “A typical NCAA team puts in more hours than a full-time job on a weekly basis, while at the club level we ask our guys to make two out of three practices a week. What a lot of people out there don’t realize, is that this is still collegiate baseball and it’s played at a very high level.”

“Sitting in the bleachers and watching these young men play, there’s something almost inspring about it,” said Chris Wilson, of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “These students are not playing for scholarships, or to impress a scout to get to the next level. They’re proud to represent their school, they want to win it all, but, it’s also just another game out in the sun.”

The double-elimination tournament starts on Friday, May 17 at 10:00 a.m. and ends with the Championship Game on Tuesday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m. For more information on the tournament, call the Crawford County CVB at 620.231.1212, or visit https://div2.clubbaseball.org/worldseries/ for full tournament information.

About the teams

#1 seed – State University of New York at Binghamton University
Record: 12-0
Points For-Away: 114-35
Week 24 Poll: 4th
Conference: New England – Central
Nickname: Binghamton
Mascot: Bearcats
Enrollment: 17,727
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 1,218 miles
First game: Friday at 7 p.m. versus Pittsburg State University
Twitter: @bubaseballclub

#2 – U.S. Air Force Academy
Record: 11-1
Points For-Away: 210-75
Week 24 Poll: 1st
Conference: Rocky Lone Star – Central
Nickname: Air Force
Mascot: Falcons
Enrollment: 4,237 cadets
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 659 miles
First game: Friday at 4 p.m. versus CMU-Montebello
Twitter: @AFClubBaseball

#3 – University of Maryland
Record: 12-3
Points For-Away: 177-81
Week 24 Poll: 3rd
Conference: Chesapeake – Central
Nickname: Maryland DII
Mascot: Terps
Enrollment: 40,521
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 1,120 miles
First game: Friday at 1 p.m. versus West Virginia
Twitter: @MDClubBaseball2

#4 – University of Wisconsin
Record: 10-2
Points For-Away: 164-62
Week 24 Poll: 2nd
Conference: Northern Plains – Central
Nickname: Wisconsin DII
Mascot: Badgers
Enrollment: 43,820
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark:
First game: Friday at 10 a.m. versus Georgia Southern
Twitter: @ClubBaseballUW

#5 – Georgia Southern University
Record: 10-2
Points For-Away: 145-91
Week 24 Poll: 6th
Conference: Dixie – Central
Nickname: Georgia Southern
Mascot: Eagles
Enrollment: 20,517
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 972 miles
First game: Friday at 10 a.m. versus Wisconsin
Twitter: @CBaseball_GSU

#6 – West Virginia University
Record: 12-3
Points For-Away: 185-108
Week 24 Poll: 5th
Conference: New Penn – South
Nickname: West Virginia
Mascot: Mountaineers
Enrollment: 28,776
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 927 miles
First game: Friday at 1 p.m. versus Maryland
Twitter: @WVUClubBaseball

#7 – California Miramar University – Montebello
Record: 12-3
Points For-Away: 197-117
Week 24 Poll: 9th
Conference: Pacific – Central
Nickname: CMU-Montebello
Mascot: Fighting Falcons
Enrollment: n/a
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 1,543 miles
First game: Friday 4 p.m. versus Air Force
Twitter: n/a

#8 – Pittsburg State University
Record: 9-3
Points For-Away: 187-125
Week 24 Poll: 7th
Conference: Great American – South
Nickname: Pitt State
Mascot: Gorillas
Enrollment: 6,907
Distance from Jaycee Ballpark: 2.9 miles
First game: Friday 7 p.m. versus Binghamton
Twitter: @PSUClubBaseball

Pitt State Roster

President:  #9 Drew Roy – JR – LF/2B – Webb City (MO) HS
Vice President: #24 Luten Warrick – JR – P – Frontenac (KS) HS
Captain: #11 Simon Higginbotham – SO – C – St. Mary’s Colgan (KS) HS
Associate Captain: #5 Levi Kemp – SO – CF – Independence (KS) HS
Treasurer: #3 Kealin Smith – 5SR – P – Joplin (MO) HS
Secretary: #7 Peyton Brown – FR – OF/C/2B – Frontenac (KS)

#23 Jordan Miller – 5SR – 1B/3B/P – Bishop Carrol (KS) HS
#3 Kealin Smith – 5SR – P – Joplin (MO) HS
#21 John Barrows – SR – OF/P – Frontenac (KS) HS
#13 Bailey Gardner – SR – P/IF – Spring Hill (KS) HS
#6 Johnny Maturino – SR – SS/2B – Joplin (MO) HS
#19 Sam Grant – JR – P/1B/RF – Rose Hill (KS) HS
#4 Colan Snodgrass – SO – 1B – Independence (KS) HS
#16 Ryan Long – SO – P/UT – Frontenac (KS) HS
#52 Dominic Piccini – SO – OF – St. Mary’s Colgan (KS) HS
#10 Garrett VanBecelaere – SO – 2B/SS – St. Mary’s Colgan (KS) HS
#8 Cal Bloomfield – FR – 3B/P – Independence (KS) HS
#17 Dawson Fenix – FR – C/OF – Carl Junction (MO) HS
#15 Cordell Bass – FR – P – Columbus (KS) HS

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