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History Project: 1992 Baseball Team Starts Generation of Excellence

History Project: 1992 Baseball Team Starts Generation of Excellence

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rose-Hulman Athletic History Project is designed to educate current Fightin' Engineer fans on the outstanding and unique history of Rose-Hulman and Rose Polytechnic athletics.  The Project will allow fresh content for the Rose-Hulman athletics website and social media channels during our athletic downtime caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.  We will start with one memory from each of Rose-Hulman's current 20 varsity athletic teams over the next 20 weekdays.  After the first 20 days, Rose-Hulman alumni and fans can have their memories become our daily "Rose-Hulman Athletic History Project" story by e-mailing us your story with one (appropriate for publishing) accompanying photo.

Mon. March 23 - Football (1958 season)
Tues. March 24 - Women's Soccer (2007 season)
Wed. March 25 - Baseball (1992 season)

The Rose-Hulman baseball program was in the beginning of a transformation in 1992.  Third-year head coach Jeff Jenkins had led a program that finished 7-29 in the year prior to his arrival in 1989, all the way to 22-12 in his second year in 1991.  The 1992 team had high hopes of maintaining this excellence.  Looking back in the mirror nearly 30 years, this was the team that started an entire of generation of Rose-Hulman baseball excellence.

The season started on fire, with Rose-Hulman opening the season with a 12-2 record that included an 8-game winning streak.  After a 4-2 trip to the Atlanta area to open the season, the Fightin' Engineers swept doubleheaders from Oakland City, DePauw and Olivet Nazarene to to solidify their place as one of the top teams in the Midwest.  The success continued, as the record reached 19-3 midway through April.  The Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference was still a mix of NAIA and NCAA Division III teams at the time, so Rose-Hulman's 7-5 record with splits against then NAIA scholarship programs Anderson and Hanover only solidified their NCAA Tournament resume.

Rose-Hulman completed the regular season ranked No. 22 in the ABCA coaches poll for the first national ranking in program history.  Splitting doubleheaders against DePauw and Franklin, and defeating Washington University (Mo.), in the season's last five games proved enough to get the Fightin' Engineers into the NCAA Tournament for the first time.  

The NCAA Tournament run was much more competitive than the scores indicated.  Rose-Hulman went toe-to-toe with national power Marietta for seven innings, trailing just 2-0.  The host squad scored four times in the eighth inning to pull away and earn a 6-0 victory.  The second game was painful, but also showed that Rose-Hulman had earnd a place in the NCAA Division III Tournament.  The Fightin' Engineers built an 8-1 lead after four innings, with a two-run triple by John Hooper and a two-run double by Aaron Junkersfeld providing the offensive spark in the first four innings.  Ohio Wesleyan showcased its skill as one of the nation's top teams to rally and pick up an 11-8 victory. 

Pitching was the mainstay of Rose-Hulman through the historic 1992 season.  David Gowans led the team with eight wins and had a 3.16 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 77 innings.  Tim Watson finished 6-2 with a 2.99 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 66.2 innings.  Eric Mihal added a 5-4 record and a 2.29 ERA, and the overall pitching staff finished with a 3.38 ERA and 186 strikeouts in 256 innings.

Offensively, John Sherrard led the team with a .328 averages with six doubles and five home runs.  Brian Schwager led the team with seven home runs for a team that hit 16 round trippers and only allowed six.  Hooper added a .312 batting average with four extra base hits, and David Merrell batted .299 with five doubles for the Fightin' Engineers. 

The 1992 team was Rose-Hulman's first NCAA Tournament squad, but certainly not the last.  NCAA Tournament trips continued in 1996, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2016.  In 2020, Jenkins became just the 9th active and 22nd all-time coach to win 800 career games (757 of which are at Rose-Hulman).  The Fightin' Engineers won 440 games in nearly 80 years prior to Coach Jenkins' arrival on campus.  He has led the team to 757 wins in the last 31 seasons, helping define Rose-Hulman as one of the top NCAA Division III baseball programs in the nation.

1992 (25-11)
Coach: Jeff Jenkins
(7-5, 3rd in ICAC)
(NCAA Tournament)
Sewanee @              W  5-0
Oglethorpe @           W  7-1
Emory @                  L    4-5
Oglethorpe @           W  8-7
Ohio Northern @      W  11-3
Maryville (TN) @       L    2-3
Oakland City            W  3-1
Oakland City            W  4-2
DePauw                   W  4-3
DePauw                   W  11-5
Olivet Nazarene        W  5-3
Olivet Nazarene        W  8-7
Albion                      W  2-1
at Muskingum           W  2-1
at Muskingum            L    0-2
Manchester               W  8-1
Manchester               W  12-5
at Oakland City         W  8-2
at Oakland City         W  13-12
at Ky. Wesleyan         W  5-4
at Blackburn              W  5-3
at Blackburn              W  14-2
at Wabash *              L    3-5
at Wabash *              W  4-3
Anderson *                W  5-4
Anderson *                L    3-8
Hanover *                 W  6-2
Hanover *                  L    4-6
at Taylor                    L    3-6
Washington U.           W  10-4
at DePauw *              W  4-3
at DePauw *              L    0-2
at Franklin *              W  3-1
at Franklin *              L    1-3
at Marietta $              L    0-6
vs. Ohio Wesleyan $   L   8-11
$ - NCAA Tournament at Marietta