Sixth time's the charm.
After falling to Farmingdale State for five consecutive seasons in the Skyline Conference baseball championship, SUNY Old Westbury was finally victorious last Sunday. Next stop for the Panthers: a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
Old Westbury is making its fourth appearance in the tourney.
On Sunday, Old Westbury (25-9) will find out where it will play when the NCAA announces the matchup for the Division III tourney during its selection show.
Tyler Kapela, who clinched the Skyline title, was named Tournament MVP. Kapela threw a complete game, allowing four earned runs on 12 hits and striking out two. "He showed a lot of guts," Panthers coach Rod Stephan said. "He went after players and the key is he didn't walk anybody. He gave up some hits but he found a way of getting out of jams."
Co-captain Nick Yip has an Old Westbury record 14 home runs on the season, eclipsing the single-season record of 12. He hit a three-run homer to seal the big win last Sunday.
Senior righthander Tim Ingram is one of 11 seniors on the team. "I'm excited for the NCAA Tournament," he said. "I think we have a lot to show for ourselves. Hopefully we'll win a few games."
Ingram was named the Skyline Conference Pitcher of the Year for the second year in a row. In 12 appearances (eight starts), he posted a 7-3 record with a 1.37 ERA. In 59 1/3 innings, he has 76 strikeouts with only 17 walks.
Starting rightfielder Jacob Coners, who plays with moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss, scored two runs and drove one in during the championship series. Coners was named SUNY Chancellor's Scholar Athlete, the award that recognizes both academic excellence and outstanding athletic achievement.
Stephan, who achieved his third 25-win season in five years, likes his team's chances in the tournament.
"We field well, we hit well, we pitch well," he said. "I think this combination is what helps us win."