BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI
For the Sun-Times
Concordia Chicago fought back through three elimination games in the NCAA Division III baseball regional in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, including a rally to oust defending national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater 8-7 after trailing 7-0.
But they couldn’t quite fight all the way through to the national tournament. The Cougars were eliminated Saturday with a 10-3 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse, which then beat Coe 5-4 and 15-4 to win the regional.
“I’m really proud,” Concordia coach Adam Smith said. “The kids played their tails off. I couldn’t ask for any more as a coach.”
The Cougars, who finished 33-15, were led by senior outfielder Carlos Olivarria. D3Baseball.com named Olivarria an all-Midwest Region first-teamer after he hit .356 and led Concordia with five homers, 50 RBI, 51 runs, 25 steals and 68 hits. Sophomore pitcher Cody Caballero was named to the second team, and sophomore third baseman Doug Matthews and freshman designated hitter Mitch Wilson made the third team.
Concordia opened the double-elimination tournament with a 2-0 loss to Washington of St. Louis. After that, the Cougars beat St. Scholastica 7-4 and Ripon 6-5. A three-run eighth and five-run ninth took care of Whitewater before the final loss to LaCrosse.
“Mitch Wilson had huge hits, especially in the Whitewater game,” Smith said. “He had the two-run double that tied it in the ninth. Doug Matthews had the game-winning hit in that game and played very well. Steve Zubrzycki was a three-year starter, then didn’t play as much his senior year. I put him in our starting lineup against Ripon, and he had a great three games.”
The drive to keep fighting is what Smith will remember most about this season.
“I’d never seen a team with a never-say-die approach like this team had,” Smith said. “What a great attitude they had.”
Division III track
Freshman pole vaulter Luke Winder leads a group of 11 North Central athletes in eight events into the NCAA Division III track meet this weekend in Canton, New York.
Winder was named D-III Midwest Region field athlete of the year for the outdoor season. The pole-vault champion in the indoor nationals, Winder is ranked No. 1 going into the outdoor championships with a season-best vault of 17-10 ½.
The Cardinals’ Spencer LaHaye also has qualified in the pole vault, while Femi Oyewole qualified in the high jump, Zion Mason in the 110-meter hurdles and Derek Nelson in the 400 hurdles.
In distance events, Travis Morrison has qualified in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs, Kevin McMahon and Zach Plank in the 10,000, Aron Sebhat in the 1,500 and Ken Hoffman and Ryan Root in the 3,000 steeplechase.
Division III softball
Lake Forest’s season came to an end with two losses to Alma in an NCAA D-III super regional. The Foresters finished 35-11, including a regional championship.