Wellington resident Shawn Steuerer is getting used to playing baseball at a “World Series.” While he has thoroughly enjoyed his competitive World Series experiences, he’s still searching for that elusive championship win.
Back in 2015, he played in Little League’s Intermediate League World Series Championship Game against South Korea and lost. Now, Steuerer, who just completed his sophomore year at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is at home for the summer and reflecting on his recently completed college baseball season, where he and his teammates were one win away from being crowned as NCAA Division III national champions.
From June 2 through June 8, Steuerer and his Johns Hopkins Blue Jays baseball teammates played in the NCAA Division III World Series at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Johns Hopkins was one of eight teams competing in Iowa. The teams were divided into two pods of four teams. In each pod, it was a double-elimination format. The winners of the two respective pods then advanced to a best two-out-of-three championship series.
As expected, Johns Hopkins, the top-ranked NCAA Division III program in the country, eventually won its pod by defeating Baldwin Wallace University from Ohio on June 5, 8-2. That propelled Johns Hopkins into the championship series against the University of Lynchburg from Virginia. After losing game one, 5-2, on Wednesday, June 7 and winning game two, 11-6, on Thursday, June 8, both teams met in the winner-take-all championship series finale, soon after the conclusion of game two.
In the final game, Johns Hopkins opened up with four runs in the top of the first inning to take an early lead, 4-0. Steuerer played his part by driving in one of those runs with a sacrifice fly. Lynchburg responded with two runs in both the bottom of the first and second innings to tie the game, 4-4.
In the top of the third, Steuerer opened the inning with a double, but he was stranded at second. Johns Hopkins took the lead again, 5-4, with a one-run fifth, but Lynchburg stormed ahead with three runs in its half of the fifth inning to take a 7-5 lead, which it would never relinquish. Johns Hopkins scored one more run in the top of the eighth, but that’s as close as the Blue Jays would get before losing, 7-6.
Steuerer, who was Johns Hopkins’ starting third baseman, was philosophical about the loss. “It was the best pitching staff that we faced all season,” he said.
Despite the loss, Steuerer enjoyed the entire experience, which started when the team first arrived on Wednesday, May 31.
“We flew to Chicago and then had a three-hour bus ride to Cedar Rapids,” Steuerer said. “It was definitely a cool experience, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was fun playing in a minor league ballpark with the big scoreboard. We had great fan support from our parents.”
Steuerer’s parents, Jerry and Pam Steuerer, made the trip to Cedar Rapids from Wellington. They enjoyed the chance to see their son play on the national stage.
“We spent a full week in Cedar Rapids,” said Jerry Steuerer, who played basketball for the University of Bridgeport at the 1979 NCAA Division II Basketball Final Four. “It was one of the best weeks of my life. It was so much fun.”
Despite the loss in the final game, it was a memorable season for Shawn Steuerer, whose jersey number (33) is the same as his basketball-playing father.
In addition to being one of four Blue Jays named to the Division III World Series All-Tournament team, Steuerer was named to the D3baseball.com Second All-American Team. During this past season, he batted .420, collected 79 hits, drove in 55 runs, scored 51 runs, slugged 16 home runs, stroked 12 doubles and stole two bases.
During the NCAA Division III World Series, Steuerer, who is majoring in economics and has a 3.65 grade point average, had 15 RBIs, which was one short of tying the NCAA Division III World Series record.
Bob Babb, the head coach of the Johns Hopkins baseball team, had strong words of praise for his young third baseman.
“Shawn had a tremendous sophomore season, both offensively and with the glove,” Babb said. “He really heated up during the NCAA playoffs, producing big hit after big hit. Most of his drives were for extra bases and with runners on base. He really carried our offense with his clutch hitting.”
Johns Hopkins finished the season with a 48-8 record, a school record for most wins in a baseball season for the Blue Jays. It was the second national runner-up finish — the first was in 2012 — for Johns Hopkins at the NCAA Division III World Series.