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Getting to Know the Wright State Raiders

Jeff Mercer leads the Raiders in hitting with a .360 average. He also leads the Horizon League in hits with 89.
Jeff Mercer leads the Raiders in hitting with a .360 average. He also leads the Horizon League in hits with 89.

The Beavers were selected as the No. 3 seed in the Fort Worth Regional this morning on ESPN's Selection Show, and will play Texas A&M on Friday at 12:00 p.m. We've already briefly met No. 1 seed TCU and No. 2 seed Texas A&M, now let's take a look at Wright State. Write State will play regional host TCU in Friday's night cap at Lupton Stadium. If both the Beavers and Raiders win their games on Friday, or if they both lose, OSU and WSU will meet up in a second round game. However, due to the double elimination nature of the bracket, the Beavers and Raiders could find another way to meet up if one wins and one loses on Friday. 

Wright State enters the Forth Worth Regional with an overall record of 33-28 and finished the season at 14-12 in Horizon League play. The Raiders, who needed to win their conference tournament to qualify for the Field of 64, did so with a thrilling extra-inning victory over the University of Illinois at Chicago. Down to their last out and trailing by one in the game, senior Kory Twede hit a single to drive in Tristan Moore to tie the game at 2-2 and force extra innings. Wright State would clinch the game, tournament, and an NCAA berth with a four run outburst in the twelfth inning. The games was the first championship game to go into extra innings in Horizon League history.

Wright State has recent history with all four teams in the regional, including Oregon State. The Raiders have now qualified for Regionals by way of winning their conference tournament two times in the past four years under fifth year head coach Rob Cooper. The last time WSU reached the tournament was in 2006, when the Raiders participated in the Corvallis Regional. The Raiders were matched up with Oregon State in a first round game, and gave the eventual National Champions a battle. It wasn't until Chris Kunda delivered a two-out, two-run double to left-centerfield in the bottom of the eighth that the Beavers assured themselves of a 5-3 win. Wright State was eventually eliminated from the regional by Hawaii.

Rounding out WSU's recent history with other teams in the regional... they were swept by Texas A&M in a four game series earlier this year, and won one of three games against a nationally ranked TCU squad in 2006. 

Wright State is led at the plate by senior first baseman Jeff Mercer, who is hitting .360 as of WSU's Horizon League Tournament victory. The Raiders are hitting .319 as a team, and have eight players hitting above .300. Other top hitters include junior third baseman Quentin Cate at .353, and junior shortstop R.J. Gundolff at .349. 

The Raiders have a 4.98 team ERA that ranks third in the Horizon League. Junior righthander Alex Kaminsky leads the team with a 6-2 record in 11 starts, and boasts a 2.77 ERA. Freshman righthander Michael Schum leads the team and the conference in ERA at 1.68. He's made 33 relief appearances throughout the year, and has a team high 13 saves. 

Once again, Wright State will open the Fort Worth regional at 5:00 PT on Friday night when they square off with top-seeded TCU at Lupton Stadium. 

--Jake (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)