Wittenberg baseball team has won 11 games in a row with one of nation’s top offenses

Coach Brian McGree leads program to third straight 20-win season

The victories — and the hits — keep piling up for the Wittenberg baseball team.

The Tigers extended their winning streak to 11 straight games with a doubleheader sweep of Wabash at Carleton Davidson Stadium in Springfield. They’re undefeated in April. An offense that ranks second in the NCAA Division III in batting average (.363) has led the program to its third 20-win season in a row under coach Brian McGee.

“We’re just really hitting it,” McGee said. “We’re a tough team to deal with offensively, that’s for sure. But we’ve been getting better pitching as of late, especially from a couple of our starters. We’ve been taking care of the baseball better the last week or so as well. I think we’re starting to hit some strides and figure some things out.”

Wittenberg is second place in the North Coast Athletic Conference with an 8-0 record heading into a Senior Day doubleheader on Saturday against Ohio Wesleyan (14-14, 3-7). Denison (23-6, 10-0) leads the standings. Wittenberg plays a doubleheader at Denison on April 29.

A year ago, Wittenberg finished 27-12 and 14-4 in the NCAC. It earned a spot in the NCAC tournament for the first time since 2011 but lost to Wooster and DePauw and was eliminated. Denison won the tournament for the third straight season.

Winning the NCAC tournament for the first time remains a goal for the program.

“I think we took a great step as a program last year,” McGee said. “The guys are certainly motivated by the fact that they fell short of what they think they’re capable of doing and I’m hopeful that we can get back there this year and take another step.”

Wittenberg could set a school record for batting average this season. The previous record of .348 was set in 1994 when the program also set a school record with 31 victories. The 1997 team averaged 10.9 runs per game. Wittenberg is averaging 10.6 this season.

Wittenberg’s top hitters are:

• Senior shortstop Chase Wisner leads the team in hits (46 for 113). His .407 batting average would be the third-best average in school history.

• Junior second baseman Luke Thomas ranks fifth in the NCAC with a .420 average. That would tie for the second-best average in Wittenberg history.

• Junior right fielder Conor O’Malley leads the team with 37 RBIs. He’s four off the NCAC lead.

• Junior first baseman Ian Ash is hitting .395 with 31 RBIs. He replaced Jack Siefert, who was a graduate student last year and one of the best players in school history, McGee said.

• Sophomore Ben Seibert hit .282 last season in 39 at-bats and is hitting .380 in 92 at-bats this season while playing mainly third base but also second base and some outfield.

• Junior catcher Parker Gryskevich is hitting .358 with 20 RBIs.

• Sophomore catcher Rocco Royer is hitting .500 (19 for 38) and is tied with O’Malley for the team lead with four home runs.

Wittenberg’s pitching staff ranks second in the NCAC in ERA (5.17) behind Denison (4.95). Graduate student Michael Osmond is 4-0 with a 2.29 ERA in six starts. Senior Nick Cunningham is 4-2 with a 2.55 ERA in five starts. Nate Floyd is 5-1 with a 4.91 ERA in six starts.

Wittenberg has scored 10 or more runs eight times during its 11-game winning streak and scored 27 runs against Bluffton on April 12.

“We’re capable of of having explosive innings at any moment,” McGee said. “I never count the team out. Even times where we’ve started off slowly, in my mind, I try to have patience to think, ‘Hey, the guys are figuring this guy out and we’ll get to him eventually,’ and they usually do. It’s always nice as a coach having some comfort knowing even if we do get behind or we’re not pitching it or fielding it as good and we’re giving up runs that we can still stay in the game with offense we have.”

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