York College will begin its NCAA Division III baseball journey in Minnesota

STEVE HEISER
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York College's Joe Capobianco, left, and Jack Barry celebrate during a game earlier this season. The Spartans begin NCAA Division III tournament action on Thursday in Minnesota.

York College’s 2021 baseball journey will take a long detour to the west this week.

By winning the Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth title, the Spartans earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III national playoffs.

Sunday night, York (28-8) learned that its NCAA trek will begin more than 1,100 miles from Jaquet Field.

Coach Mike Scappa's Spartans have been placed in the Collegeville (Minnesota) Regional starting on Thursday. Saint John's University of Minnesota will be the host school for the regional.

York will enter as the No. 3 seed in the six-team regional. The Spartans will be joined by top-seeded St. Thomas (Minnesota), Texas-Dallas, Pacific (Oregon), defending national champion Chapman (from California) and the University of Scranton.

There are eight regions and the region champions will advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series that will be held starting June 4 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A total of 48 teams made the D-III playoffs. Each of the regions will use a double-elimination format.

The Spartans will face fourth-seeded Pacific in their tournament opener on Thursday at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Pacific comes into the tournament at 31-13. They earned an automatic bid to the tournament after winning the Northwest Conference championship on May 15. The Boxers beat Williamette 15-6 in the NWC title game.

St. Thomas (29-7) and Scranton (20-9) open the tournament on Thursday morning, followed by Texas-Dallas (29-10) vs. Chapman (13-4). The York-Pacific game will be the third contest of the day.

The only team the Spartans have a previous history with is sixth-seeded Scranton. York is 2-3 all-time against the Royals. The last time York faced Scranton was in 2014.

York enters NCAA action with a powerful offense, led by senior Jack Barry, who leads all of D-III in home runs (19) and home runs per game (.528), while Austin Denlinger is second in both categories (18 and .500). The Spartans lead the nation in home runs per game at 1.53 and are third in total home runs with 54. The Spartans are 21st nationally in D-III in batting average at .340.

The Spartans also get major contributions from three York County products.

Susquehannock High School graduate Conor Miller is the team's closer. The senior has nine saves and a 1.75 ERA over 25 2/3 innings, with 26 strikeouts. He was the MAC Commonwealth Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Two Dallastown grads are major offensive contributors. Junior third baseman Joe Capobianco is hitting .333 with four homers, 26 RBIs, a .504 slugging percentage and a .389 on-base percentage. He was a second-team All-MAC Commonwealth pick. Senior outfielder Brandon White is hitting .248 with six homers and 29 RBIs. He has a .466 slugging percentage and a .338 on-base percentage.

Millersville gets D-II berth: Another central Pennsylvania school, the Millersville Marauders, have earned an NCAA D-II berth.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East champions are headed back to the NCAA Atlantic Regional for the eighth consecutive season. The Marauders, who are 28-13, are slotted as the No. 2 seed in the regional, which is scheduled for Thursday through Monday at the University of Charleston's Welch Athletic Complex in Charleston, West Virginia. 

Joining Millersville in the regional field is No. 1 seed and PSAC West champ Seton Hill (35-6), Mountain East Tournament champion and No. 3 seed West Virginia State (32-8), at-large selection Charleston (31-8) and Bloomsburg (23-16), which won the PSAC Tournament for an automatic bid. 

The winners of the eight, double-elimination regional tournaments advance to the NCAA Division II Championship in Cary, North Carolina, from June 5-12. 

As the No. 2 seed, Millersville draws No. 3 seed West Virginia State in its first game. Millersville is making its 11th trip to the NCAA Tournament, and nine of those appearances have come since 2011. Millersville won the regional in 1998, 2011 and 2016.  

Millersville is led by Eastern York grad Bren Taylor, who was recently named the PSAC East Baseball Athlete of the Year. Taylor is hitting .399 with with three homers and 35 RBIs.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yordispatch.com.