CARY, NC –The University of Tampa Spartans baseball team clinched the 2015 National Championship on Saturday behind junior pitcher and Most Outstanding Player Michael Calkins. The Spartans defeated Catawba College by a 3-1 score to seal the victory, marking Tampa’s seventh baseball championship since the program began in 1977.
The National Finals were co-hosted by Town of Cary and Mount Olive College at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
With the 2015 Title in hand, Tampa has won seven national championships in its history, capturing the crown previously in 1992, 1993, 1998, 2006, 2007 and 2013. Head Coach Joe Urso now has four under his belt.
Catawba earned a spot in the title game with a Friday victory over Cal Poly Pomona, setting up a matchup between the top two teams in the nation according to the recent national poll. Even before the matchup was decided, the Collegiate Baseball Lineup poll had UT at No. 1, and Catawba at No. 2.
Shutting down the Catawba offense was Tampa starter Michael Calkins, who scattered just four hits and allowed one run in the nine-inning complete game victory. The junior lefty threw 96 pitches in 32 batters faced, surrendering no walks and finishing the game with four strikeouts. He retired the side in the second, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings and did not allow Catawba to reach second base after the Indians scored in the third inning.
Calkins, who actually began the 2015 season as a relief pitcher, also threw a nine-inning complete game against Sunshine State Conference foe and reigning SSC Champs Nova Southeastern University in the South Region Tournament. He was named to the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team and honored as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Offensively, the Spartans tallied eight hits in the victory, with seven of the nine Tampa starters registering at least one.
Despite trailing their opponent for what was the second time during the National Tournament, the Spartans responded in the bottom of the fourth inning to rally for two runs off two hits and a walk. Senior Stephen Dezzi led off the inning with a one-out single to right field, taking second base after another out and a walk to Cody deNoyelles. Senior catcher Nick Tindall then came up big, blasting a base-clearing triple down the rightfield line to force a 2-1 Tampa lead.
Backed by an incredible pitching performance from Calkins, the Spartans picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. It was senior Brett Jones who jumpstarted the offense with a one-out single up the middle, advancing to second on a groundout from Chris Pagliarulo. An RBI single from junior Casey Scoggins then sealed the game, allowing Jones to cross home plate for the final scoring play of the contest.
Due to their efforts in the tournament, Tampa players Nick Tindall, Stephen Dezzi, Giovanny Alfonzo,Casey Scoggins, Chase Sparkman, and Michael Calkins were all named to the 2015 National Championship All-Tournament Team.
Tampa now owns an 8-1 all time record against Catawba College. The two teams had not met since 2008 in the South Region Tournament.
The final attendance number for the 2015 NCAA Championship game was 2,452 spectators. The game lasted a total of two hours, and marks the 15th total championship for the University of Tampa as a whole. In addition, the Spartans’ title signals the 93rd National Championship for the Sunshine State Conference.
2015 Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team
Nick Tindall, Tampa
Mike Philp, Cal Poly Pomona
Hunter Mayall, Henderson State
Craig Brooks, Catawba
Dylan Richardson, Catawba
Giovanny Alfonzo, Tampa
Kyle Garlick, Cal Poly Pomona
Stephen Dezzi, Tampa
Casey Scoggins, Tampa
Michael Calkins, Tampa
Chase Sparkman, Tampa
Most Outstanding Player: Michael Calkins