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2011 NAC Baseball Tournament Set to Open in Loves Park

Wednesday, May 11, 2011  
Posted by: Regents Sports Information
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ROCKFORD, Ill. - For hundreds of young men, this journey began in January.  Young men from 12 school battling for one of four prestigious spots in the 2011 Northern Athletics Conference Baseball Tournament.  After 448 games, the conference’s top four teams have reached the tournament, with their sights now set on the NAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament.  Beginning Friday, May 13, Concordia University Chicago, Aurora University, Concordia University Wisconsin, and Benedictine University will take the field at Road Ranger Stadium in Loves Park, Illinois in hopes of becoming the 2011 NAC Baseball Champion.

No. 1 Concordia University Chicago Cougars (32-8, 20-2 NAC)
Concordia University Chicago enters the tournament on a ten game winning streak.  Since the Cougars opened conference play on April 2nd, they have gone 23-3 including a win at the defending national champion Illinois Wesleyan University.  Their lone non-conference lost came on April 21st at #10 ranked UW-Whitewater.  This is the second regular season NAC title for Concordia Chicago and their first since 2009.  The Cougars will be looking to capture their second NAC Tournament title in 3 years and earn its second NCAA Tournament berth since 2009.  Concordia Chicago locked up the top seed in the tournament with an 8-3 win in over MSOE on Sunday.  The Concordia University Chicago pitching staff leads the NAC in earned run average, saves and walks.  Offensively the Cougars led the NAC in 6 categories and are tied with Aurora in two others.

Nick Skala (Long Grove, Ill./ St. Viator) is the most dangerous hitter in the Cougar lineup, and arguably the most feared hitter in the NAC.  Skala leads the conference in slugging percentage (.723), hits (63), RBI (56), home runs (10), total bases (112), and is second with 4 triples.  Cam Stephens (Rosemont, Ill./ East Leyden) is also a major threat for opposing teams as evidenced by his league leading .442 batting average and 18 doubles.  Stephens also ranks second in the conference with a .683 slugging percentage and is third in the NAC with a .528 on-base percentage.

On the mound the Cougars are led by the duo of Anthony Collaro (Melrose Park, Ill./ Walther Lutheran) and Micah Buss (Columbus, Ind./ North).  Collaro and Buss rank first and second in the NAC with 1.28 and 2.03 ERA’s, respectively.  Collaro’s 1.28 ERA is currently 9th in the nation.  His 7 wins are also tied for tops in the NAC.  The senior duo have combined for 11 wins, 5 complete games, 87 strikeouts and only 33 walks for the Cougars.  Brenden Schulz (Kenosha, Wis./ Bradford) has also been a standout for the Cougars on the mound this season, with a record of 6-1, a 3.27 ERA, and 39 strikeouts against only 9 walks. 

No. 2 Aurora University Spartans (27-11, 18-4 NAC)
Aurora University enters the tournament having won 13 of its last 16 games.  The Spartans are the defending NAC Tournament Champions and are looking for its second straight berth in the NCAA Tournament.  This year marks the third straight trip for the Spartans to the NAC Tournament.  The Spartans have gone 19-5 since starting their conference season on April 2nd.  Aurora is nationally ranked in three offensive categories.  The Spartans are fifth in the nation with 133 stolen bases and .349 team batting average, and 6th in the nation scoring 9.3 runs per game.  Aurora is the best defensive team in the NAC with a .961 fielding percentage.  They also have a potent offense leading the NAC in batting average (.349), hits (473), stolen bases (133) and are tied for the lead in triples and home runs with Concordia Chicago.

Offensively, the Spartans get significant contributions from several players.  Josh Davidson (Cypress, Calif./ Cypress) leads the team with a .431 batting average.  Davidson also leads the NAC and is sixth in the nation with 34 stolen bases.  Anthony Amedei (Naperville, Ill./ Nequa Valley) is ranked 12th in the nation with 32 stolen bases.  Ryan Adams (Geneva, Ill./ Geneva) leads the team with a .512 on-base percentage and with 33 walks.  Mike Foley (Mokena, Ill./ Joliet Catholic) and Brett VanAsdlen (Minooka, Ill./ Minooka) have provided the power for the Aurora offense this season.  The two have combined for 91 RBI, 23 doubles, 5 triples and 10 home runs. 

The Spartans are lead by a trio of pitchers on the mound.  Drew Gay (Marseilles, Ill./ Marquette) is the ace of the staff leading the team in wins (7), ERA (2.12), strikeouts (49), complete games (3), and innings pitched (63.2).  His 7 wins are also tied for best in the NAC.  Stephen Sitterly (Romeoville, Ill./ Romeoville) and Brad Warnecke (Aurora, Ill./ Oswego East) are also very effective on the mound for the Spartans.  Sitterly went 4-2 on the year with a 3.14 ERA and 31 strikeouts.  Warnecke also won 4 games for the Spartans and posted a 4.70 ERA with 40 strikeouts.

No. 3 Concordia University Wisconsin Falcons (18-21, 14-8 NAC)
Concordia University Wisconsin needed to put together a strong run to end the season in order to qualify for the conference tournament and they did just that.  The Falcons went 6-2 in the conference over the final eight days of the season, including winning the second game of the doubleheader against Aurora University and sweeping Marian University on the final day of the regular season.  This is the second straight appearance in the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament for Concordia Wisconsin after losing the tiebreaker to qualify in 2009 and missing the tournament by a single game in 2007.  The Falcons are led on the field by their offense.  They finished third in the NAC in batting average (.308), slugging percentage (.418), on-base percentage (.393), runs (268), RBI (241), doubles (77), total bases (531) and walks (155).

Dan Shea (Campbellsport, Wis./ Kewaskum) is the offensive leader for Concordia Wisconsin.  He leads the team in batting average (.397), home runs (7), RBI (41) and slugging percentage (.645).  Shea finished in the top 4 in the NAC in all those categories except batting average where he finished 8th.  Ryan Shilter (West Bend, Wis./ West) has also been a key contributor this season for the Falcons.  He tied for the team lead with 14 doubles and was second on the team with 35 RBI.  Harry Steldt (West Bend, Wis./ West) leads the Falcons with an on-base percentage of .531.  He is 4th in the NAC drawing 26 walks and also got hit by pitch 6 times.

The Falcons are led on the mound by senior pitcher Derrick Pankow (Hartford, Wis./ Hartford).  He leads the team in wins (6), innings pitched (71.2), batting average against (.280) and strikeouts (77).   Pankow is currently 22nd in the nation with those 77 strikeouts.  Matt Scasny (Waukesha, Wis./ Milwaukee Lutheran) has been solid for Concordia Wisconsin in both starting games and pitching in relief this season.  Scasny went 2-0 on the year and posted a 3.33 ERA.  Matt Parrent (Kewaskum, Wis./ Kewaskum) had a solid season for the Falcons going 4-1 in his 8 starts.  He threw 47.1 innings and struck out 26 batters.

No. 4 Benedictine University Eagles (23-16, 13-9 NAC)
Benedictine University won its final 3 NAC games of the season to earn a spot in the NAC Tournament, highlighted by a ninth inning come-from-behind win over Rockford College in the final game of the season.  This year’s trip to the NAC Tournament marks the team’s third trip in 4 years.  The Eagles have been solid over the last 2 weeks of the season going 10-4, including an important win over Aurora University.  Benedictine led the NAC in a handful of statistical categories including sacrifice flies (31), batters struck out (257), runners picked off (24), triples allowed (3), and assists (432). 

Benedictine University relies on a very balanced offensive attack, led by Kevin Hendricks (Mundelein, Ill./ Carmel Catholic).  Hendricks leads the team in nearly all the major offensive categories including batting average (.383), hits (57), RBI (39), slugging percentage (.510), walks (20), on-base percentage (.459) and is tied for a team high 2 home runs.  Nick Karakosta (Addison, Ill./ Addison Trail) leads the team and is tied for second in the Northern Athletics Conference with 44 runs scored.  Karakosta also tied for the team lead with 2 home runs and drove in 27 runs.  Tom Higgins (Alsip, Ill./ Marist) is also an important hitter in the Eagles lineup.  He hit .327 with an on-base percentage of .405.

On the mound, the Eagles are lead by sophomore pitcher David Nowaczyk (Oak Lawn, Ill./ Marist).  Nowaczyk recorded a team best 4 wins and 3.09 ERA.  In his 6 starts and 1 relief appearance, he threw one complete game and struck out 28 batters in 43.2 innings of work.  He also led the Northern Athletics Conference with 6 pickoffs.  Matt Vucovich (Island Lake, Ill./ Marian Central) started a team-high 8 games for Benedictine this season.   He struck out 36 batters and posted an ERA of 3.80 in 42.2 innings of work.  Kevin Crowley (Chicago, Ill./ De La Salle) was a key contributor this season for Benedictine both in a starting role and working out of the bullpen.  Crowley went 3-0 with a 3.34 ERA in ten appearances.  He struck out 32 batters in only 32.1 innings of work while only walking 15 batters. 

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