ADRIAN, Mich. – The fourth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team took advantage of 16th-ranked Shenandoah University's wildness on the mound down the stretch, while first-year pitchers Evan Faxon and Andrew Hill stepped up in a big way, as did the Fighting Scots' defense during a 13-5 win over the Hornets on Friday evening at the 2018 NCAA Div. III Mideast Regional at Adrian College's Nicolay Field.
"I'd like to say that we really banged the ball around, but I don't think that would be right" said head coach Tim Pettorini. "I think a lot of those runs were given to us. We put ourselves in position to take advantage of it when they did give it to us."
Wooster (38-8), which won its first two games at a regional for the first time since 2009 – coincidentally at Adrian – plays the winner of the contest between No. 25 Adrian (34-10) and No. 14 La Roche College (35-8-1) on Saturday. Saturday's scheduled game time is approximately 4:30 p.m. Schedule updates, if applicable, can be found on Wooster's athletic Twitter account @WoosterSports when available.
The game's momentum ultimately shifted during the decisive sixth inning, when the Scots capitalized on a series of Hornet miscues. Prior to Shenandoah's ungluing, junior Garrett Crum led off with an 11-pitch walk with ball four coming after Crum fouled off five pitches in a seven-pitch span. The Scots junior sped around the bases on a two-bagger up the left-center alley off the bat of junior Harrison Walls that tied the game at four. Next, senior Drew Tornow beat out a bunt, and Shenandoah third baseman Christian Rice sailed the throw wide of the base enabling, the Scots' right fielder to move up to third while Walls scored the go-ahead run on the miscue.
After the error, Hornet reliever Jonathan Dance uncorked a trio of wild pitches, and was called for a balk, all of which enabled Tornow and junior Chandler Dippman to score and make it a 7-4 game.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Faxon battled back with a pair of strikeouts after a leadoff walk, and the Scots' rookie southpaw stranded the runner in scoring position after a fly out was tracked down by Tornow to end the inning.
|Wooster won its first two games at the Mideast Regional for the first time since 2009 on Friday.|
Wooster stayed in the driver's seat in the seventh inning. Junior Michael Wielansky's third hit of the game led off the frame, and it was nearly a 9-4 game right after, but a stiff wind blowing in from right field was all that prohibited sophomore Dan Harwood from clubbing his 15th round tripper of the year. Nonetheless, Harwood's piece went for a two-bagger off the wall. Wooster executed to perfection to get both runners in with Wielansky scoring on Crum's sacrifice fly and Harwood scoring on Walls' RBI single.
The Scots defense took charge after the offense staked the ball club to the five-run lead. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Crum chased down an errant throw and fired a bullet to junior Tanner Kaplan at the plate, and the Scots' backstop applied the run-saving tag in time. An inning later, Dippman started a 5-4-3 twin killer to squash a Hornet infestation, although a run did come in on the play that made it a 9-5 contest.
Wooster answered back, and then some, in the top of the ninth inning. Five walks, an error, and a wild pitch in the frame enabled Harwood, Kaplan, Tornow, and sophomore Dan Gail to all touch home.
Earlier in the game, Wooster jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Harwood led off the frame with a single, stole second, and scored on Walls' fielder's choice.
The early lead didn't hold, as Shenandoah took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning on Henry Delavergne's two-out RBI single, and the Hornets tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the third inning thanks to RBI singles by Chase Smallwood and Nick Goode.
Walls' big day continued in the fourth inning as his two-out double started the Scots' comeback. Earlier in the inning, Wielansky led off the inning with a single, and later moved into scoring position via a stolen base.
Faxon picked up his first collegiate win with three innings of no-hit shutout relief. Hill followed with two innings of work, and while a run did score on the double play turned by Wooster's defense, the lanky right-hander did a fine job mitigating the damage.
"We've been trying to prep Evan and Andrew all year long for this moment," said Pettorini. "Barry Craddock has done a great job getting those young guys to the point where they are ready. Evan stemmed the tide there when we were really reeling. Hopefully, that's a good sign going forward."
Walls led the way at the plate with a 3-for-4 game with four RBI, while Harwood and Wielansky combined for five hits and five runs.
"Harry's been swinging it really good," said Pettorini. "He gave us a very big lift offensively."
Noteworthy, senior Jake Fling played in his 180th career game, a total fifth all-time at the College.
Smallwood led the way for Shenandoah with a 2-for-4 night with two RBI.
"We need to bear down and focus on the job at hand now that we have two wins," summed up Pettorini. "Those two wins don't mean anything unless we get the next one."