HPU club baseball chases national title

·3 min read

May 20—HIGH POINT — One team associated with High Point University continues its quest for a national championship today.

HPU's club baseball team is one of eight in the eight-team double-elimination National Club Baseball Association Division II World Series at Michelle Krill Field in Butler, Pennsylvania.

HPU is 20-2. They defeated Georgia College for their first regional championship in three tries under coach Todd Murphy, who spent seven seasons coaching baseball and football at Northwest Guilford.

The Panthers advanced to the regional by winning the Dixie Region's North Conference, which includes teams from Duke, Wake Forest, Campbell, South Carolina and Craven Community College.

Murphy said his best previous record with Panthers is 19-4 when they reached the regionals in 2019.

"We've kept a pretty even-keel about this so far," Murphy said just before the Panthers boarded one of the school's buses and departed early Thursday morning. "I think when we get to the hotel, reality will set in and we'll start getting chills about it."

The Panthers, the No. 4 seed, will play No. 5 seed Penn State at 10 a.m. Top-seed California of Pennsylvania and No. 8 Fordham are the other teams on HPU's side of the bracket, while the opening games on the other side are No. 2 North Dakota vs. No. 7 Missouri S&T and No. 3 Grand Canyon vs. No. 6 Washington.

"I think the players believing in themselves and each other is the reason we've had such a good season," Murphy said. "We sort of bond after the fall season. Our motto is family — play for the guy right beside you."

The Panthers are led at the plate by sophomore Brentan Rowe, sophomore Brian Coleman and freshman Quinn DeWitt.

DeWitt is batting .549 with 15 RBIs and 11 stolen bases while serving as a defensive anchor in the outfield. Rowe is batting .530 with 26 RBIs while Coleman is hitting .500 with 32 RBIs.

Robert Oliveri leads the pitching staff with a 0.90 ERA and is 6-0 in 11 appearances and 43 innings. Patrick Knapp also is 6-0 and has a 2.25 ERA.

"We're going to do the same thing we've done all year," Murphy said. "We're going to have the same gameplan. We'll start out heavy on the offense, get runners on, move them over and scratch the scoreboard as quickly as we can. Our defense, 99% of the time, takes care of itself but if our bats are on all cylinders, we have as good of a chance as anybody."

Murphy doesn't know much about the competition.

"We know just a little and that's from our players and coaches trying to dig through the NCBA stats," Murphy said. "So, that's straight by stats. And then we have players who have friends who have played against some of the teams. We have some insight about a few key players. But other than that, we're going in blind."

gsmith@hpenews.com