SPORTS

Davidson’s 2017 Baseball Team Honored in Hall of Fame

by | Jun 11, 2019 | Sports

Wildcat pitcher Durin O’Linger pitching in the ‘Cats second game against UNC Chapel Hill in the NCAA Regional Championship.

 

It’s been two years since the Davidson baseball team made its historic run to the NCAA Super Regionals, and now the memorable moments of that success are prominently featured in the Davidson Athletics Hall of Fame.

The Davidson Wildcats’ baseball championship ring.

A showcase featuring photographs, baseballs and the Atlantic 10 Conference championship trophy is now displayed in the lobby of the Vance Athletics Center.

“This incredible run by the 2017 baseball team is deserving of this space in the Hall of Fame,” said associate athletic director Scott Applegate, who oversaw the addition. “It was a phenomenal feat by this team and now will be forever recognized as one of the greatest achievements in Davidson’s athletics history.”

The showcase is 5 feet wide and 10 feet tall and is flanked by same-sized displays featuring the 1992 men’s soccer team, which reached the Final Four, and the 2008 men’s basketball team, which reached the Elite Eight.

“It’s wonderful to see the 2017 team and season honored in such a prominent manner,” said head coach Rucker Taylor, the team’s associate head coach in 2017. “I know a lot of the guys involved with that season are elated to have the display to physically remember the excitement of that season.” 

Jake Sidwell’s amazing tag in the Championship game against the Tar Heels.

In 2017, the Wildcats won the seven-team A-10 tournament as the No. 6 seed — and had to defeat top-seeded VCU twice — to clinch the first conference championship in the program’s 115-year history. Then Davidson swept through the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional, posting two wins over nationally ranked host North Carolina and also gaining a victory over Florida Gulf Coast. That put the Wildcats into the Super Regionals against national power Texas A&M, and after challenging the Aggies in two games, Davidson finished the season 35-26 with a school record for wins.

In one late-season stretch, the Wildcats won 10 of 11 games.

“You think about how we had to work to get into the A-10 tournament, and two weeks later, we’re two wins from Omaha,” said associate athletic director Dick Cooke, the head coach of the 2017 team. “It’s amazing how two weeks can change the trajectory of a program.”

The indelible image of the championship display is pitcher Durin O’Linger, who memorably willed the team through the postseason with three wins, a save and more than 500 pitches. Also featured prominently is catcher Jake Sidwell’s tag of North Carolina’s Brandon Riley, which accounted for the second out in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Regional final.  

Two baseballs are included in the display. One is the ball from the final out in Chapel Hill. The other features the signatures of all the players and coaches.

“As these guys get five, 10, 15 years out, they’ll realize even more what that specific team and that specific accomplishment meant,” said Cooke.

The Wildcats celebrate their NCAA Regional Championship win over the UNC Tar Heels.

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