LUBBOCK, Texas — David Martinelli, Jimmy Fouse and MD Johnson will join the other 34 members of Dallas Baptist University’s Patriots when they attempt to move up one more rung of the championship ladder during the Lubbock Regional at 6 p.m. on Friday at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
DBU, the No. 2 seed, will face the University of New Mexico, the No. 3 seed, and the game will be televised on ESPN3 and on the WachESPN app. The winner will face the victor of the 2 p.m. one-game series on Friday between Texas Tech University-Fairfield University.
“We are feeling very confident going into Friday’s game. We won the conference championship for the first time in school history and went out and also won the conference tournament. Each and every one of us has each other’s back,” Johnson said. “We’re treating the playoffs just like the regular season. We don’t need to do anything different. The veterans are consistently guiding the first- and second-year guys because the first year of college always has a learning curve to it. Being able to advance deep into the playoffs allows us younger guys to experience everything a lot longer.”
Martinelli, Fouse and Johnson, former Waxahachie, Midlothian and Red Oak baseball players, could be integral parts to the Patriots march to a NCAA title.
Johnson, a product of the Homeschool Athletic Association, said the jump from the HSAA to DBU combined with early graduation has been a little overwhelming, despite top-level success before coming to the Patriots.
“Coming into DBU, not only being a homeschooled athlete but also a semester early, made everything seem larger than what it really was,” Johnson continued. “Pitching and winning back to back national championships for HSAA was the highlight of my high school career. However, it doesn’t come close to comparing to what we have accomplished here.”
In 47 games, Martinelli, a junior, batted .317 and hit six home runs and 35 RBIs, Fouse, a freshman, had a 7.71 ERA and three strikeouts and MD Johnson, a freshman, posted a 4-3 record, 5.59 ERA
Since head coach Dan Heefner took over in 2007, the DBU Patriots have won 40 games three times, been to five NCAA regionals (including the one they hosted last year), and played in a 2011 super regional. They’ve also had 13 players selected during the first 10 rounds of the MLB Draft, and been a factor in both the Independence to Missouri Valley conferences.
The Patriots are coming off a 2016 season that saw them win both the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
In their six NCAA Regional appearances, DBU has been the No. 1 seed once (2015), the No. 2 seed four times (2008, 2012, 2014, 2016) and the No. 3 seed once (2011).
DBU’s first NCAA Regional appearance came during the 2008 season.
This year’s trip to the Lubbock Regional marks the third straight year in which DBU has advanced to the field of 64, making them just one of 17 teams from across the nation to make three consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament. Since joining the Division I ranks in 2004, the Patriots are making their fifth appearance in the NCAA postseason in the last six seasons (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016).
The Patriots, which are one of just eight teams in college baseball to have won 40 games or more in three consecutive seasons, joining the elite company of Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisville, LSU, Miami, TCU, and Vanderbilt, owned the league’s third best ERA at 3.70. They also had a league-leading 12 selections on the Missouri Valley All-Conference Team, highlighted by the Joe Carter Player of the Year, Darick Hall, the MVC Pitcher of the Year, Colin Poche, and the MVC Co-Freshman of the Year, Jameson Hannah.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the character and heart they showed,” said Heefner, the Dan Callahan Coach of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference, after winning the MVC title. “We talk about winning championships and for this team to win the regular season and now the tournament title is a great accomplishment for our program.”
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