Michael Gordon
Mercury Staff

The baseball began the 2015 ASC Championship today against East Texas Baptist University in Austin. For the second straight season, the tournament will be played at Tornado Field on Concordia’s campus.

The Comets, who finished the season with a 19-18 conference record (25-15 overall), will be seeded third in the tournament. This will be the teams twelfth straight tournament appearance.

Although UTD started the season slow, going 4-10 in their first few games, they enter the postseason with momentum, winning 14 of their last 16 games.

In spite of their early struggles, the Comets have the talent, coaching and tenacity to make some noise in the tournament. The Comets have had clutch performances from several key players who can propel them to success in the tournament

Heading into the postseason, junior third baseman Brandon George leads the ASC with a .404 batting average, ranking third the league in RBI with 40 runs batted in and ranking fourth in on-base percentage (.449) and hits (59). Senior shortstop Jimmy Norris set the school and conference single-season record for stolen bases this spring, stealing 32 bases.

The team also has junior second baseman Tim Cole and junior outfielder Haden Johnson who both rank in the top 7 in the league in stolen bases. The ability to steal bases will be crucial and with Norris, Cole and Johnson, the Comets shouldn’t have any problem making the most of their opportunities.

The biggest key to UTD’s success is its performance on the mound. The Comet’s pitching rotation is solid, with the trio of juniors Brandon Lee, Aaron Bach and senior Tyler Dauer. They have been the cruical to the Comets’ success over the second half of the season.

Dauer became the Comets’ all-time strikeout leader in April, striking out 81 in 80.1 innings pitched. He ranks second in the ASC in shutouts, fourth in strikeouts and sixth in opponents batting average (.223).

Lee posted a 6-2 record this season with a 3.43 ERA and 41 strikeouts, while Bach is 4-1 on the year with a 2.85 ERA.

If pitching trio of Lee, Bach and Dauer can keep opponents off the bases, the Comets have a real shot to advance deep into the tournament.

The winner of the UTD/ETBU game will play the winner of the Concordia/Hardin-Simmons game tomorrow at 4 p.m. The losers of today’s game will play the losers of the Concordia/Hardin-Simmons game tomorrow at 10 a.m.