WASHINGTON, Pa. – Sophomore Garrett Crum staked the eighth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team to an early lead with a two-run homer run in the bottom of the second inning, but that lead was short lived as Earlham College answered right back with two runs to reclaim the lead as the Fighting Scots dropped their opener at the 2017 NCAA Div. III Mideast Regional 6-2 on Thursday afternoon at Ross Memorial Park.
"It wasn't what we expected, that's for sure," said head coach Tim Pettorini. "It's just one of those things. … We expected more and better, but unfortunately we didn't get it. That's baseball, that's the way it goes. Now we'll see what we're made of and how we can bounce back. The fact remains we still have a very good team. I know these young guys, and I'll know they'll bounce back."
Wooster's (35-9) hopeful bounce back comes against Misericordia University (30-13) in an elimination game scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday morning.
Of note during Thursday's game, junior Jake Fling made program history with his eighth-inning single into right field as the base knock marked the center fielder's 200th of his career, and he's the first Scot great to reach 200 career hits before the end of his junior year.
Earlham (30-12) took an early lead in the top of the second inning as the Quakers drew three walks off of senior left-hander Michael Houdek (8-3), including a bases-loaded one by Kendall Baker. Wooster's defense had its ace's back in the frame as sophomore Jacob Stuursma made a fine play at second base for the final out of the inning after Houdek cleaned up a comebacker to the mound for the second out of the inning at the plate.
|Sophomore Garrett Crum crushed a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning. Photo courtesy of Martin Santek Photography.|
Wooster answered right back in the bottom of the inning when senior Jamie Lackner poked a leadoff single up the middle, and Crum followed with his third round-tripper of the postseason, but Wooster was kept off the scoreboard the rest of the way, thanks in large part to senior righty Howie Smith.
"Give (Howie) credit," said Pettorini. "He changed speeds on us and kept us in the ballpark. That's what (Earlham) had to do. Earlham executed it and they won. They played a good solid ballgame."
Earlham took the lead in the top of the third with a two-spot to make it 3-2. Eric Elkus and Cody Krumlauf did the damage with RBI base knocks. Next inning, Elkus extended the Quakers' lead with a three-run round tripper that made it 6-2.
Wooster's best offensive threat the rest of the way in the bottom of the eighth as first-year Nick Strausbaugh led off the inning with a single up the middle in advance of Fling's 200th career base knock, but Earlham reliever Walter Talcott navigated the tight rope and working out the jam, retiring Wooster's three, four, and five hitters to get out of the inning.
Crum, Fling, and Stuursma all finished with a pair of base knocks in the game.
Smith picked up his ninth win of the season, and the senior righty kept Wooster's potent offense off balance all afternoon as he scattered seven hits in seven-plus innings of work. Elkus and Brennan Laird combined for four hits, four runs, and four RBI.