Sunday, May 2, 2004

Denison baseball team has 29 wins, 5 losses, 1 proposal

College update

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A top-five national ranking. Last-inning comebacks. Five undefeated pitchers. A no-hitter.

And even a marriage proposal.

The season has been anything but dull for the Denison University baseball team, which boasts a 29-5 record and is ranked fifth in the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Division III poll. Its ranking is the program's highest, and its No. 1 ranking in the Mideast Region is its first.

"We haven't lost two in a row," head coach Barry Craddock said. "We've had winning streaks of five games, 10 games. It's been such a great season."

The regular season culminated on Senior Day on April 24, when the Big Red beat Case Western twice and senior Cam Cowden pitched his first career no-hitter. Anderson grad Brian Regan, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored in the second win, had something else planned as well.

Tucked in his bag was an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Denison senior Haley Holmberg, who was sitting in the stands. "She had no idea," Regan said.

The ruse began in the fifth inning when the announcer said there would be a fan appreciation ceremony after the last game. Once Denison had sealed a 13-0 win, Holmberg's name was the first name called.

Regan presented her with flowers at home plate. "She was like, 'What do I do? Do I stay here?' I said yes, and then got down on my knee," he said.

The stands erupted. Even the visiting team, which had packed up its equipment, stopped to watch Holmberg accept.

"Everyone on the other team started clapping too," Mason graduate and junior pitcher Drew Shamrock said. "It was pretty neat."

After the celebrating, it was time to think about the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament, which Denison began hosting in Granville on Saturday. Last year the Big Red lost to Ohio Wesleyan in the championship series - something the 11 seniors didn't want to revisit.

Regan is sixth in the conference in hitting with a .427 average and leads the NCAC in runs scored (50).

Shamrock is 7-0 from the mound, has 73 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched and has a 2.23 ERA. He's batting .436, a team second, and leads the team with eight home runs and 56 RBI.

They are part of a core that includes outfielder Adam Mandel, who's batting .488, and pitcher Cowden, who is 9-0 with a 1.77 ERA. The good fortune includes Cincinnatian Troy Testerman, a freshman left-handed pitcher from Milford, who already has two wins under his belt.

The Big Red, who have won 12 of their last 13 games, are anticipating less drama as they play in the pinnacle of their season. Shamrock said it's hard to concentrate with so much going on.

"I don't think I can take any more surprises," he said. "But you never know what's around the corner."


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