Transylvania baseball begins 2019 HCAC Tournament on Thursday vs. Defiance

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Terre Haute, Ind. – The Transylvania baseball team makes its return to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament for the first time in three seasons this Thursday when the Pioneers open up tournament play against the Defiance College Yellow Jackets at 12:30 p.m. on the campus of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Behind an emerging youth movement, the Pioneers completed a 9-9 run through the HCAC to clinch the No. 5 seed in the five-team tournament, setting up an opening-round contest against the Yellow Jackets in the tournament opener.

The 2019 HCAC Tournament runs Thursday, May 9 through Sunday, May 12 at Art Nehf Field and is hosted by the conference's number-one seed, Rose-Hulman. The Pioneers are making their first HCAC Tournament appearance under third-year head coach Zack Getsee and are pursuing what would be their first NCAA Tournament berth by winning the conference tournament championship.

The five-team, double-elimination tournament begins on Thursday with a three-game slate; No. 5 Transylvania (16-22, 9-9 HCAC) vs. No. 4 seed Defiance (21-14-1, 10-8 HCAC) leads off the day at 12:30 p.m., followed by No. 2 Franklin (25-13, 12-6 HCAC) facing No. 3 Anderson (20-14, 10-8 HCAC) at 3:30 p.m. The winner between Defiance and Transylvania will square off with No. 1 Rose-Hulman (25-10, 14-2 HCAC) in the final game of the night at 6:30 p.m.

The Pioneers enter the tournament as one of the most potent offensive teams in the HCAC. Transylvania is led by sophomore infielder Hudson Chastain, who leads the conference in batting average (.410 BA) and hits (66). Chastain completed the regular season this past Sunday by breaking the Pioneer single-season hits record by two hits as the Pioneers split with Bluffton to clinch a conference postseason berth. The sophomore ranks seventh in the HCAC in RBI (34) and sixth in total bases (78), having registered at least one hit in 35 of 38 games this season.

Junior outfielder Riley Willbur is eighth in the HCAC in batting average (.354) and has 16 stolen bases on the year, ranking fifth in conference. Sophomore infielder Wade Lopiccolo has put together a stellar all-around season, ranking third on the team in walks and fourth on the team in batting average, slugging percentage, and hits. He also has a co-team-high three home runs for 2019.

Sophomore catcher Michael Blair anchors Transylvania's battery and has proven to be a two-way force, ranking second on the Pioneers in slugging percentage (.481 SLG) and 11th in conference in hits (45), and 14th in doubles (10). Blair also matched Lopiccolo with three home runs on the year. Freshman Trey Medford has steadily developed into a dynamic talent for the Pioneers, collecting 28 hits, 17 RBI, nine stolen bases, two triples, one home run, and a .394 slugging percentage. 

The Pioneers rank third in the HCAC in hitting with a .287 team batting average and third in hits with 374 on the year. Transylvania has bagged 89 stolen bases this year, ranking third in the HCAC.

Atop the mound, the Pioneers are led by sophomore Jake Schmidt (3.81 ERA, 46 K's), junior Collin Johnson (3-1, 3.66 ERA, 26 K, 7 BB, 46.2 IP), and sophomore Luke Wilson (5.48 ERA, 24 K, 42.2 IP). Freshman Max Medley has surfaced as a key bullpen performer with three saves and three wins on the year along with a 2.54 ERA. Sophomore Jared Leuthart is another member of the bullpen who has risen to the occasion over the back half of the season, finishing second on the team with 33 strikeouts.

The double-elimination tournament will feature three games each of the first two days, followed by a 12:30 p.m. game on Saturday, and the 3:30 p.m. championship game to follow. An if-necessary game 9 of the tournament would be played the following day, Sunday, May 12 at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets for each day's session is $8 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and children. All-session tournament passes will be available for $20 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and children. Pets are not allowed at the HCAC Baseball Tournament.

All games will be streamed live via Rose-Hulman's Athletic Department.

For more on Transylvania baseball, follow @TransyBaseball on Twitter