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UNG to compete in NCAA D2 baseball championship tournament

The nationally ranked University of North Georgia (UNG) baseball team will compete in the NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship tournament that begins May 27 in Grand Prairie, Texas, after defeating Catawba College 5-4 in the Southeast Regional Championship game on Monday, May 22.

UNG baseball wins regional tourney
UNG's NCAA Division II baseball team clinched a berth in the national championship tournament by winning the Southeast Regional Championship tournament 5-4 over Catawba College.

No. 6 UNG held the lead Monday until Catawba tied it up 4-4 with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning. The winning run came from UNG catcher Andres Perez, a freshman from Duluth, Georgia, who belted a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to put UNG up 5-4. UNG held Catawba in the ninth to clinch the regional championship and punch their ticket to Texas.

UNG swept through its opponents in the regional tournament, and entered the championship game unscathed after beating host University of Mount Olive, the top-ranked NCAA Division II baseball team in the nation, 13-6 on Saturday, May 20.

UNG has been ranked in Collegiate Baseball newspaper’s top 10 every week of the regular season, highlighted by the program's first-ever No. 1 ranking on March 20.  UNG notched a 19-5 conference season record, earning the regular-season Peach Belt Conference (PBC) title, and 40-8 overall mark.

UNG has racked up hardware this season with honors for Coach Tom Cantrell, in his 18th season coaching the Nighthawks, and individual players.

At the conclusion of the regular season, Cantrell was named PBC Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons. The PBC Coach of the Year honor marks the sixth time that the veteran has earned the league's top coaching honor. He also earned the honor in 2001, 2003, 2007 (PBC) and 2015 (PBC).

Additionally, UNG had a conference-high nine Nighthawks land on the PBC All-Conference team; Michael Bell (second base), Michael Gouge (outfield), Steven Bower (pitcher) and Dylan Peppers (pitcher) earned first-team honors and Devin Gearhart (third base), Connor Hoover (shortstop), Bill Leroy (designated hitter), Daniel McCrary (pitcher), Josh Bryan (pitcher) represented UNG with second team All-Conference honors.

UNG also landed seven players on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-Southeast Region squad. Outfielder Michael Gouge was voted to the First Team, while pitcher Daniel McCrary and shortstop Connor Hoover collected Second Team honors. Steven Bower (pitcher), Dylan Peppers (pitcher), Michael Bell (second base) and Bill Leroy (designated hitter) each landed on the Honorable Mention list.

Founded in 1962, the NCBWA is dedicated to the advancement of college baseball. Membership is open to writers, broadcasters and publicists of the sport.

The NCAA Division II Baseball Championship Tournament is May 27 through June 3 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/Team.asp?SponsorID=9771#.WSMFHnqQQ4d.

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