CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Senior Drew Tornow breathed new life into the second-ranked College of Wooster baseball team with a three-run homer in the seventh inning to pull the Fighting Scots within five, but for the second time in as many days, the Black and Gold couldn't put away Wabash College, which won the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament for the second time in program history with a 17-8 win on Saturday at VA Memorial Stadium.
Wabash (28-15) earned the NCAC's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Div. III Tournament with the win, while Wooster (36-8) must now wait and see if it will be extended one of 16 Pool C at-large bids. The tournament field will be announced by the NCAA early Monday morning.
Wooster again was forced to play catch-up from the get-go against Wabash, and never could pull even on the scoreboard despite four homers in the game. Jared Wolfe, who sparked the Little Giants with a leadoff double in Friday's winners bracket game between these two ball clubs, reached on a single in the bottom of the first inning in what was an eventual two-run frame for Wabash. The Little Giants kept plugging away offensively and staked senior starter Tyler Cooper to a 7-0 lead after two innings.
|Sophomore Harry Witwer-Dukes hit two home runs in the game.|
Sophomore Harry Witwer-Dukes, who was starting at third base in place of Friday night's starting pitcher junior Chandler Dippman, rose to the occasion and did his best to will the Scots back into the game out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Witwer-Dukes reached on an error in the third inning, and came in to score after a trio of walks for Wooster's first run, but Wabash relief ace Zach Moffett took over for Cooper and logged a big punch out to get the Little Giants out of the inning.
Witwer-Dukes blasted the first of his two solo homers in the fourth inning to make it a 7-2 ballgame, but at that point each time the Scots scored, the Little Giants had a counter from an offensive standpoint, including in the bottom of the frame when Tyler Downing put the capper on a four-run inning with a two-out, two-run two-bagger.
In the fifth inning, sophomore Dan Harwood mashed a two-run shot out to right field for the all-tournament team honoree's second round tripper of the tournament. With the two RBI, Harwood's now at 68 on the year, a total seventh on the single-season program leaderboard.
Two innings later, junior Michael Wielansky had the Scots primed with a one-out infield hit, and he advanced into scoring position on junior Garrett Crum's walk. That set the stage for Tornow, who nailed a 1-1 Moffett offering out of the park. The Scots kept threatening with back-to-back hit-by-pitches following Tornow's round tripper, but Wabash ace Bryan Roberts entered in relief and promptly shut down the threat.
Wabash picked up Moffett in the bottom of the inning with a four-spot, two of which came in on a two-out single off the bat of Henry Wannemuehler.
Moffett improved to 4-0 with the win. The sophomore, who pitched the lion's share of the innings for the Little Giants in the tournament, logged four innings of relief, and allowed seven runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
Offensively, tournament MVP Bryce Aldridge, Downing, and Sean Roginski tallied three hits each.
Fling, Tornow, and Witwer-Dukes accounted for six of the Scots' nine hits.
Dippman, Wielansky, and Witwer-Dukes joined Harwood on the all-tournament team for Wooster.
Notable, Wabash's win on Saturday spoiled Wooster's attempt at a third-straight tournament championship. NCAC teams are now 1-4 all-time in bids to win a third-straight tournament crown. Wooster remains the lone team to do so successfully, having done so from 2004-06.