The Oglethorpe baseball team earned its first-ever NCAA Division III statistical championship by either the team or an individual over the course of the 2017 season, finishing first in the nation in home runs per game with 1.18. That mark edged them just 0.02 home runs per game ahead of Worcester Polytechnic Institute for the statistical title. The mark also serves as a school record for the Stormy Petrels.
The Petrels also finished tied for fifth in the nation in total home runs with an impressive 47, equaling Johns Hopkins for fifth and finishing just six long balls behind statistical champion Washington and Jefferson. Oglethorpe hit their 47 home runs over just 40 games, though, while the Presidents launched their 53 homers over the course of 55 games, putting them 15th in the nation in home runs per game at 0.96.
Oglethorpe's 47 home runs on the season crushed their previous record of 29, originally set during the 1997 season and equaled in 2016. The Petrels' total home run and home runs per game marks also lapped the field in the SAA, beating out second-place Birmingham-Southern by a significant margin in both categories. The Panthers tallied 29 total home runs over 49 games for a rate of 0.59 per contest.
The Petrels put two individuals in the conference's top three in home runs, with junior catcher Adrian Celata winning the league title with 11 and senior third baseman Austin Ferlita finishing tied for third with eight. Celata broke the school's career home run record during the 2017 season, moving past alumnus Brendan Pilger and finishing the season with 28 career home runs. He finished tied for 14th in the nation in total home runs over the course of the season, as well as coming in 21st in home runs per game with 0.28. Ferlita finished tied for 25th in Division III with 0.27 home runs per game.
Oglethorpe also enjoyed outstanding power hitting from many different spots in the lineup. Senior right fielder Brandon Fish tallied seven home runs on the year, while junior center fielder Jarvis Miller and sophomore first baseman Andrew Mink recorded six each, putting all three in the league's top 10. In all, eight Stormy Petrels launched multiple home runs over the course of the season, with junior second baseman Matt Motz, junior infielder Connor Crooke and junior catcher Bobby Rezac also accomplishing the feat.
"This is a fun award and validation for our guys buying into our program philisophies," said Oglethorpe head coach Dan Giordano. "Not necessarily insofar as only hitting home runs, but definitely in stepping into the box looking to do damage. We want our guys to be aggressive in everything they do. It's always good to see the student-athletes' hard work pay off."