CARY, N.C. — Most coaches have a 24-hour rule, which allows their players to enjoy a big win for a day before turning their attention to the next game. With a day off between starts at the Division II College World Series, Southern New Hampshire coach Scott Loiseau was able to extend the period just a little bit longer.
Still basking in the excitement of their 3-2 opening round victory against Minnesota State, the Penmen got in a light practice Sunday before spending the rest of the afternoon hanging around the USA Baseball Training Complex watching other teams sweat through their first-round games.
Loiseau is hoping the stress-free day will help his players recharge and be ready for their winners' bracket showdown with West Chester today at 5 p.m.
“I think the day off is awesome,” Loiseau said. “It give the guys a good break on their bodies and make sure they're fresh for the next game.”
Once Loiseau and his team finally turn the page and start concentrating on West Chester, they'll see an opponent that got off to an even more impressive start than themselves in this double-elimination national championship tournament.
The Atlantic Region champion Rams (43-10) shut out Chico State, 4-0, on Saturday with pitcher Joe Gunkel taking a no-hitter into the ninth before finally giving up a lone single. As intimidating as that performance might have been, Loiseau said his Penmen aren't concerned.
“The funny thing about baseball is that every day is a new day,” he said. “The game really dictates itself. Sometimes the guy on the mound will have great stuff and sometimes the guys in the batter's box will be on their game. As long as we take care of what we do, we'll be fine.”
Sophomore right-hander Junior Mendez will be on the mound for SNHU (43-13) against West Chester.
According to right fielder Jon Minucci, Mendez should have more offensive support behind him than Saturday's starter, Tim Flight. The Penmen managed only seven singles and needed five Minnesota State errors to score their three unearned runs in their come-from-behind win against the Mavericks.
With a game now under their belt, Minucci said he and his teammates are becoming a lot more comfortable with the new metal bats they're using for this tournament.
“There's a big difference,” said Minucci, whose infield single started SNHU's decisive two-run seventh-inning rally. “You can definitely cheat a little bit with the metal bats, because a couple of those balls (Saturday) would have been broken bats back home.
“We've been taking BP with them for about five days now. We're all just getting into a groove trying to figure out how to hit the ball the right way.”
The winner of today's game will be rewarded with two more days off and a spot in the tournament semifinals on Thursday while the loser will have to battle its way back in an elimination game Wednesday.