Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.) and California Lutheran University will play for the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship after taking care of business on Sunday (May 28) at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis.
Washington & Jefferson (41-11) and California Lutheran (38-10) face off in the opening game of the best-of-three championship series Monday (May 29) at 3 p.m. The final two games will both be played on Tuesday (May 30).
Washington & Jefferson clinched its chance to play for the national title in its first trip to the Division III World Series with an 8-1 victory over Roanoke College (Va.).
The Presidents jumped on Roanoke (35-19) with five runs in the first inning and added three more runs in the second. Trevor Kerr pitched six strong innings and allowed one run on six hits. He struck out five and walked one to pick up the win. Ben Marsico tossed the final three innings to get the save.
Nick Vento went 2-for-4 with a homer, drove in four runs and scored two runs to pace Washington & Jefferson. Mark Merlino went 2-for-3 with a triple and drove in three runs for the Presidents. Will Black was 3-for-4 for Roanoke.
Roanoke looked like it might break the game open in the top of the first but managed just one run on three hits, a walk, a hit batsman and a wild pitch in the frame.
Washington & Jefferson then collected five runs and five hits in the bottom of the first. The big blow was Merlino's bases-loaded, bases-clearing triple. The Presidents then got a three-run homer from Vento in the second to push the lead to 8-1.
The pitching took over from there as the teams combined for six hits in the final seven innings.
California Lutheran earned its third chance to play for the national title with a 10-8 victory over North Central College (Ill.). The Kingsmen, who are making their sixth appearance in the Division III World Series, were national runners-up in 1992 and 1996.
Five California Lutheran players collected two hits apiece, led by catcher Trey Saito, who was 2-for-4 and drove in three runs. Troy Frazier picked up the victory with 3.1 innings of relief, and Miguel Salud got the final five outs to pick up his save in as many games.
The Kingsmen took early control of the game with five runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Saito's two-run single, to grab an 8-3 lead. North Central (31-18) scored two runs in the fifth, and the Kingsmen came back with two runs in the sixth to keep the lead at 10-5.
North Central then scored three times in the eighth, including two on John Carmody's single, to trim the lead to 10-8. Salud then worked a perfect ninth to seal the victory.
Earlier in the day, an error in the bottom of the ninth inning allowed North Central to beat the University of Massachusetts Boston (38-12) 5-4 in an elimination game.
UMass Boston scored a run in the top of the eighth and got another in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 4-4. Josh Lopez delivered a two-out double down the left field line to score Anthony Searles in the ninth to tie it for the Beacons.
North Central's Colin Weilbacher started the bottom of the ninth with a double and was at third with two outs. Jeremy Quade's ground ball was misplayed by Danny Brown at third base, and Weilbacher scored the game-winning run.
Weilbacher went 2-for-4 with two doubles, and Nick Sotiros blasted a two-run homer for the Cardinals.
Nick Rogalski pitched the final two innings to get the win. Bryan Kaufman worked the bottom of the ninth and took the loss.
Roanoke exploded for six runs in the third inning and went on to a 10-3 victory over Concordia University Chicago (Ill.) in an elimination game. The win advanced Roanoke to the contest against Washington & Jefferson.
Dean Hermanson went 2-for-4, drove in three runs and scored two runs for Roanoke. Scott Ellis went 3-for-4 for Roanoke, and Will Decker hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs for the Maroons.
Forrest Wagner tossed seven innings, allowing three runs and four hits while striking out four and walking six to get the win. Keaton Connor lasted two-plus innings and took the loss for the Cougars.
Justin Rodriguez went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs for Concordia Chicago (34-13).