TIFFIN, Ohio – Host Heidelberg University hung a five-spot on the 20th-ranked College of Wooster in the seventh inning to take the lead, and the Student Princes went on to take game one of the best-of-three game NCAA Div. III Super Regional 8-5 on Friday afternoon at Peaceful Valley.
"It's not the way we wanted to start this tournament off, that's for sure," said head coach Tim Pettorini. "We had our opportunities. I thought we jumped out and had the thing pretty well under control, had opportunities to add on. When we didn't, I thought that was big. Obviously, we didn't get the job done when we gave the ball to our bullpen. It's (coming back in the tournament) nothing we feel we haven't done before and can't do again. We'll be back tomorrow."
Wooster (30-14) now must win twice on Saturday to extend its season to next week's NCAA Div. III World Series in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, while Heidelberg (34-13) has two chances to punch its first ticket to the eight-team finals since 2010.
Heidelberg sent nine men to the plate during the decisive seventh inning, with the Student Princes taking the lead on Parker Fronk's two-run double that got down just past the outstretched glove of Wooster right fielder Ben Gbur in the alley. Heidelberg's Tyler Smith lifted a sacrifice fly down the left field line that was just deep enough to plate Marc Ochoa and make it 7-5.
Fronk's seventh-inning at bat was nearly déjà vu to his first-inning trip to the dish. Then, the Student Princes' first baseman uncorked a two-bagger to the fence, with the first two runs of the game coming in to score. Heidelberg started Friday's game with back-to-back singles by Kane Bateman and Kyle Jenkins.
Wooster tied the game in the bottom of the second. A leadoff single through the right side by senior Chandler Dippman, a walk by junior Nick Strausbaugh, and a single through the left side by freshman Tyler Chumita loaded the bases and set the stage for senior Jacob Stuursma. Stuursma didn't disappoint with a two-run single to left, but the Scots' couldn't tack on any more in the inning.
Senior Garrett Crum put a charge into a ball to start the bottom of the third and would've had a home run if it wasn't for the play of Matt Psychas out in left. The Student Princes' senior reached up and robbed the Scots' first baseman of a round-tripper, and Psychas' inning-ending running catch in the fifth saved two, if not three, runs from scoring, as the Scots had the bases loaded.
|Junior Dan Gail put the Scots on top in the third inning with a home run, but the Student Princes rallied back to take game one of the best-of-three super regional.|
Junior Dan Gail did lift one out of the park two batters after Crum's near-miss, and that put Wooster up 3-2.
Junior Harry Witwer-Dukes scored on a balk in the fifth, which upped the Scots' lead to 4-2, while Crum came in not long after on Gail's sacrifice fly.
Crum had Wooster's biggest highlight-reel play defensively when he made a diving stop on a hot-shot down the first-base line in the second, while the Scots up the middle – Chumita and Stuursma – made several fine defensive plays, as did Strausbaugh with his range out in left field.
Stuursma and Witwer-Dukes had two hits each for Wooster.
Senior Brian Murray (3-4) took the loss. He allowed three runs in an inning of relief.
Bateman's three hits led all players while Fronk did the damage with his two two-run doubles.
Cayden Rollins (2-1) fired three shutout innings of relief to earn the win.
"Staying together is the biggest thing," summed up Pettorini, when looking at Saturday's action. "Keep fighting, keep your head down, and focus on us. I thought we had some good quality at bats (today)."