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WEST CHESTER, Pa. â€” Itâ€™s been quite the debut for Jad Prachniak, West Chester Universityâ€™s new baseball skipper.
Thanks to the tutelage of the former Lincoln resident, the Golden Rams closed their regular season with a stellar 42-10 slate, captured the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship and qualified for the NCAA Division II World Series after winning four straight games in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional Tournament.
Heading into the double-elimination tourney with a No. 13 national ranking among the 240 D-II baseball squads nationwide, West Chester opened World Series play with a 4-0 shutout of Chico State University of Chico, Calif. on Saturday. The game took place at the USA Baseball Training Complex located in Cary, N.C.
In a winnerâ€™s bracket contest slated to take place Monday evening, WCU will face Southern New Hampshire at 5 p.m.
Last season, the Golden Rams closed its campaign in the PSACâ€™s basement, but excelled this year under the leadership of Prachniak, a former All-State selection while at Lincoln High School. WCU actually shattered a PSAC record when it snagged 20 straight victories.
In the NCAA Atlantic Regional title tilt, WCU rolled to a 6-0 triumph, courtesy of senior righty Dylan Porterâ€™s ability to hurl a spectacular four-hit, complete-game shutout against Kutztown University at Owls Field at Ted Palka Park in West Lawn, Pa.
Prachniak became the Golden Ramsâ€™ head coach this past July after serving six years at the College of William & Mary. He had been the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Tribe under skipper Frank Leoni, who at one time coached him at the University of Rhode Island.
In his tenure, Prachniak tutored four hurlers who were later chosen in the Major League Baseball First-Year Entry Draft; in addition, he mentored the Colonial Athletic Associationâ€™s Co-Pitcher of the Year last spring.
It was the first time any William & Mary pitcher had been honored as such in school history.
After starring at LHS, Prachniak,l now 30, traveled to URI, where he graduated in 2005 with a Bachelorâ€™s of Kinesiology and a teaching certificate in physical education. In 2004, he was selected a co-captain of the Ramsâ€™ squad that registered a school-record 35 wins and snared the Atlantic 10 Conference Eastern Division crown.
He also was a recipient of the Scholar-Athlete Award, as given by the Rhode Island House of Representatives; and earned the Rick Ligi Memorial Scholarship Award.
As WCU enters the World Series, it has reigned in its previous eight contests; itâ€™s last loss (a 4-2 decision to Kutztown in the second game of the PSAC tourney in Butler, Pa.) occurred on May 3. In the NCAA Atlantic Regional event, the Golden Rams took four consecutive victories, including 4-0 against Shepherd; 3-2 against Mercyhurst; 9-5 against Seton Hill; and that 6-0 blowout of Kutztown in the final.
Prachniak, an active member of the American Baseball Coaches Association, has learned much while traveling to a variety of baseball instructional camps during his collegiate coaching career. Among them: The U.S. Naval Academy Baseball Leadership Camp in Annapolis, Md.; the Stanford All-Star Baseball Camp in Palo Alto, Calif.; and the Best in Virginia Baseball Camp in Farmville.