Minnesota State-Mankato's baseball team is one win away from a return trip to the NCAA Division II National Championship game.
The Mavericks (48-10) play Southern Indiana at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina Friday at 4 p.m. The winner will advance to play the winner of the other semifinal game between Tampa University (54-3) and Colorado Mesa (46-12).
Minnesota State lost to Tampa in the National Championship game last year. The second place finish capped the best season in team history, according to the Minnesota State athletics website.
Mankato's path to through the National Finals didn't start the way it wanted, losing in its opening-round game on Sunday to Seton Hill.
But the double-elimination tournament allowed the Mavericks to right the ship and go on a big-time run.
Minnesota State beat St. Thomas Aquinas on Tuesday, knocked off Seton Hill in a revenge game on Wednesday before handing Southern Indiana its first loss of the national finals on Thursday.
A win today puts them back in the title game, and the right-handed ace they're relying on is senior Jason Hoppe.
“He’s given us great starts all year,” Mavericks junior catcher Nolan Johnson said of Hoppe, as reported by the Mankato Free Press. “As hitters we were disappointed that we only gave him one or two runs to work with (last time). This would be icing on the cake if we can get this done for him.”
If Hoppe's name sounds familiar it's because the Sauk Rapids, Minnesota native set an NCAA single-season record as a junior by throwing 55 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
If the Mavericks win today they'll play in the championship game tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Today's game can be streamed live at NCAA.com.