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College  | Rankings  | 5/8/2024

DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: May 8

Nick Herfordt     
Photo: Dylan Mackenzie (Cortland Athletics)
There’s an old maxim which states, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” It's appropriate for a number of situations in life, with baseball absolutely being one of them. Every year there are teams who start slow and get exponentially better as the season progresses, and this year is not an exception. Along with the updated rankings, is a look at a team in each of the three small school divisions who didn’t look like they’d advance to the postseason back in March, but now are one of the hottest teams in their respective divisions.  


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Tampa Spartans FL 42-5 3-0 1
2 Central Missouri Mules MO 45-6 2-0 2
3 UNC Pembroke Braves NC 42-12 4-0 5
4 Point Loma Sea Lions CA 36-9-1 0-0 4
5 North Greenville Crusaders SC 41-12 1-2 3
6 Angelo State Rams TX 36-16 2-0 12
7 Young Harris Mountain Lions GA 39-13 1-2 7
8 Missouri Southern St. Lions MO 39-13 2-0 9
9 St. Leo Lions FL 37-9 0-3 6
10 West Chester Golden Rams PA 39-7 4-0 20
11 Augustana Vikings SD 41-8 6-0 11
12 Mount Olive Trojans NC 37-15 3-1 13
13 Lubbock Christian Chaparrals TX 38-14 2-0 15
14 Millersville Marauders PA 37-13 0-4 8
15 Colorado Mesa Mavericks CO 34-16 2-2 10
16 Seton Hill Griffins PA 36-13 3-1 17
17 Catawba Indians NC 40-14 3-2 16
18 East Stroudsburg Warriors PA 38-10 3-1 18
19 Lander Bearcats SC 38-15 1-3 14
20 Lee Flames TN 37-16 1-2 19
21 Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters TN 33-15 4-0
22 Georgia Southwestern Hurricanes GA 35-17 2-1 24
23 Saginaw Valley State Cardinals MI 36-13 4-0 23
24 Ashland Eagles OH 38-11 2-2 22
25 West Texas A&M Buffs TX 36-17 1-2 21
DROP Central Oklahoma Bronchos OK 25

On April 1st if you have been told that Lincoln Memorial would be one of the hottest teams headed into the postseason, you’d probably take a look at the calendar and think it was an April Fool’s Day joke. The Railsplitters went a disappointing 7-10 the previous month and had lost series to Catawba, Tusculum and UVA Wise. Dropping two of three to UVA Wise was particularly humbling as the Cavs haven’t had a full season over .500 since 2010.  LMU was  19-13 overall and only a game over .500 in the South Atlantic Conference. Those are respectable marks, but typically not records associated with teams vying to go deep in the postseason.

Mid month, LMU finally regained their mojo. They won a midweek game over North Greenville, one of the top teams in DII, then swept Newberry, a team that struggled this season overall, but were unanimously ranked in the preseason.  Those victories were a part of a streak which has continued into the conference postseason where they scored 16 runs against Tusculum and twice defeated top seeded Catawba to advance to the SAC Championship series. With the wins the Railsplitters enter the Perfect Game Top 25 for the first time this season at #21.

Their upcoming best of three series with Wingate will most likely determine their NCAA postseason fate and should be considered a must win. With the Southeast Region being the most competitive in DII, the only way to assure an invite to the next round requires them winning the tournament and earning the SAC’s automatic bid. Conference mate Catawba will be certainly advancing despite their recent pair of losses to LMU, the Conference Carolinas will send a quartet of teams to the tournament and the Peach Belt will probably get a pair. That leaves only one spot up for grabs - either for LMU or the Bulldogs.

If LMU defeats Wingate, it's likely Carson Boles will have contributed to the wins.  The junior outfielder is one of DII’s top hitters. In addition to being one of the division’s top hitters for average, his .472 places him in the top three, he’s also among the leaders in slugging percentage with 24 doubles and 14 home runs, and on base percentage at .566 with his team leading 38 walks. Kasten Harvey, who is batting .353 with 11 home runs, and Cameron Bowen, the Railsplitters’ leader in home runs with 16, are the other top contributors on offense.  

The resurgent team also will hope for more outstanding innings from Colin Murphy and the LMU bullpen. While their starting pitching has been strong, especially considering their presence in the offensive friendly SAC, Murphy and the relievers have put up some of the better numbers on the team. Murphy has appeared in 24 games this season, primarily in relief. He has a 3.38 ERA which is second in the conference and has struck out 56 batters in 53 ⅓ innings. David Brian Ellison has 35 strikeouts in 31 innings entirely out of the bullpen, and Carter White is holding opposition to a .176 batting average over 36 ⅔ innings in 18 appearances.  


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Southeastern Fire FL 48-6 4-0 1
2 Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies GA 46-6 4-0 2
3 Cumberlands Patriots KY 48-6 4-0 3
4 Missouri Baptist Spartans MO 39-10-1 3-1 5
5 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs TN 37-16 4-1 10
6 Webber International Warriors FL 42-12 2-2 4
7 William Carey Crusaders MS 34-14 4-0 11
8 William Jessup Warriors CA 39-9 3-0 12
9 LSU Shreveport Pilots LA 42-9 3-2 7
10 Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes KS 45-10 4-2 8
11 Central Methodist Eagles MO 43-9 1-2 6
12 Mid-America Christian Evangels OK 40-11 4-1 14
13 Bellevue Bruins NE 39-12 3-0 16
14 Lewis-Clark State Warriors ID 37-11 2-2 9
15 Taylor Trojans IN 41-14 4-1 19
16 Faulkner Eagles AL 35-15 2-1 15
17 Hope International Royals CA 37-14 2-2 13
18 Reinhardt Eagles GA 38-16 3-2 17
19 Concordia Bulldogs NE 41-13 4-1 22
20 Oklahoma City Stars OK 35-16 3-1 20
21 Doane Tigers NE 38-13 3-2 21
22 Loyola Wolf Pack LA 36-17 1-2 18
23 Point Park Pioneers PA 41-13 5-1
24 Ottawa (OUAZ) Spirit AZ 34-17 2-2 23
25 USAO Drovers OK 34-16 3-2
DROP Benedictine Mesa Redhawks AZ
DROP Tabor Bluejays KS

On March 30th Mount Mercy dropped a game to Culver Stockton which dropped their season record to a disappointing 13-17. The loss bookended a terrible March which started with a series loss to St. Ambrose and finished with them losing seven of their last eight. With the change in the calendar came a change in their on the field results. They started April winning eleven games in a row, and swept Clarke to end the month. During their final game against the Pride, the Mustangs set a new program record for conference wins as their 22-9 mark in the Heart of America was their highest finish in school history. Mount Mercy’s winning ways continued in their conference tournament. Their win Monday over Central Methodist not only advanced them to the conference’s championship game, but also clinched them their first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.  On Tuesday, after losing a close 13-11 contest to force a winner-take-all finale, the Mustangs clobbered Park 20-3 to claim the conference crown - their first in program history. While Mount Mercy is still on the outside of the Top 25 (they were the last team out), it was very difficult to keep them out considering how good they’ve been the second half of the season. 

Mount Mercy’s head coach is Jack Damn, who formerly led DI programs Creighton and Iowa. He raved about his team after taking the title, with extra praise of their experienced players. 

"I am very excited for our players because this was their goal from day one," Dahm stated. "We had a lot of guys come back for their Covid years to help the program take the next step and they accomplished their goal. We are not done yet of course. It was fun watching this team grow throughout the year and when they decided the team was more important than their personal playing time, we took off. Guys accepted their roles and the only thing that mattered was winning."

The ‘Stang Gang is led by a pair of graduate students on offense. Joel Vaske had been a starter at Southeast Missouri State before joining MMU. After only hitting .260 last season, he is the team’s top offense threat this year with a .352 average and 11 home runs. Trent Hoogerwerf, a catcher, has led the regular starters with a .359 average. He also was named the conference’s Gold Glove catcher as he threw out 13 of 30 would-be base stealers. 

On the mound Ashton Schwab and Zach Barden have been a prolific pair. Schwab has a 2.77 ERA over 61 ⅔ innings as a starter and earned conference first-team honors. Barden has 29 strikeouts in only 16 ⅔ innings as a closer while limiting opposition to a .217 batting average. Tyler Nagelbach, a junior transfer from Oakton CC in Illinois, came up big for the Mustangs and threw five solid innings to earn the win the title game.  He has struck out 33 batters in 33 innings in a mixed role.   


Rk School State Record Lst Week Prev Rk
1 Endicott Gulls MA 38-2 5-0 1
2 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays MD 32-9 3-0 3
3 Denison Big Red OH 35-5 4-0 5
4 Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets OH 33-7 2-1 6
5 East Texas Baptist Tigers TX 36-8 2-2 2
6 Salisbury Seagulls MD 28-8 0-1 4
7 Salve Regina Seahawks RI 32-6 3-1 8
8 Case Western Reserve Spartans OH 31-9 1-0 11
9 UW-Whitewater Warhawks WI 32-8 2-2 7
10 Rowan Profs NJ 27-13 3-2 9
11 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 28-10-1 4-0 12
12 Misericordia Cougars PA 31-9 2-0 16
13 Penn State Harrisburg Lions PA 34-7 3-0 18
14 Trinity Tigers TX 31-12 1-2 10
15 Christopher Newport Captains VA 25-9 2-1 13
16 Arcadia Knights PA 31-10 2-0
17 Eastern Connecticut Warriors CT 27-11 4-0 17
18 UW LaCrosse Eagles WI 29-11 5-0 19
19 La Verne Leopards CA 26-11-1 1-2 14
20 Aurora Spartans IL 30-9 3-0 20
21 Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens CA 29-11 3-0 21
22 Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 28-11 3-0 24
23 Lynchburg Hornets VA 27-15 2-1 15
24 Babson Beavers MA 25-10 4-0
25 Shenandoah Hornets VA 27-15 2-2 22
DROP Benedictine Eagles IL
DROP Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA

The longest active streak for any team at any level in the NCAA to reach the postseason belongs to the Cortland Red Dragons. They’ve advanced in each of the last 30 seasons. In March it looked like that streak could be in jeopardy. To start the 2024 season they were 4-7-1 and needed a series sweep over Plattsburg to push their overall record to 12-8-1 to close the month — over .500, but not exactly worthy of playing deep into May. Alas, four of those losses were to team currently in the top ten (courtesy of Salisbury and Denison) and another three were to two of the traditionally top teams in the west, Cal Luthern and Chapman, but it still wasn’t the the record anticipated for a team which was positioned in the Perfect Game preseason top ten and a long standing tradition of winning.  

In April the Red Dragons were nearly unbeatable. They went 12-2 with a SUNYAC series sweep of Brockport, two mercy rule wins over Rosemont in which they scored 42 runs in 15 innings, and another pair of conference series wins over Oswego and New Paltz. Their winning ways have continued into May and they have a 28-10-1 record headed into their conference tournament of which they’ll host and be the top seed. 

As anticipated, Mat Bruno has led the way for Cortland. The graduate outfielder will finish his career as one of DIII’s most productive players. He has started every game this spring and is batting .401 with 13 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. He also has stolen 10 bases. Chris Bonacci, who led the team in batting last season, is hitting .364 and is second on the club in total bases. Nolan Smith is batting .406 in 96 at bats and has 30 walks for a .557 OB%, and Dylan Mackenzie has improvised his average from .292 in 2023 to .370 and is second on the team with five home runs.

While established arms were expected to carry the pitching staff, a pair of newcomers have made the Dragons the team to beat in their region. Devin Georgetti and Luis Misla have combined to strike out 148 batters in only 111 innings with Misla on his way to earning conference pitcher of the year honors. In 64 innings he has only allowed 42 hits with 96 K’s and has a 2.25 ERA. He leads the SUNYAC in ERA, strikeouts, wins, WHIP and innings. Georgetti can be masterful when he is on, but has had some rough outings which adversely affected his ERA.