|Jarrod Mancine, who went 2-for-4 with a walk, takes a lead off first base early during Wednesday's NCAA regional game. (photo courtesy Bret Billhardt)|
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Thomas More College scored in four of the first six innings, capped by a seven-run sixth, to construct a 12-3 lead, and went on to upend third-seeded College of Wooster 20-4 on Wednesday, the opening day of an NCAA Div. III Baseball Championship regional being hosted by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology at Art Nehf Field.
While it was the most runs Wooster (32-11) has given up since the 1997 conference tournament – a 25-15 loss to Wittenberg University – the good news is that the Fighting Scots can play their way back in the NCAA regional. First up will be an elimination game on Thursday at 1:15 p.m., against the loser of Wednesday night's game between Marietta College and Penn State Behrend.
Thomas More (30-14), the No. 6 seed, was leading 5-3 in the sixth when it broke the game wide open. The big inning began with an error, and with one out, Tyler Graber snuck an RBI double inside the left field line. A pair of singles followed, with the second plating another run, but the Scots had a chance to escape further trouble as starter Keenan White struck out the next hitter. He couldn't get out of the inning, though, as the Saints strung together two more singles, a hit by pitch, and then the knockout blow came when Nick Connor delivered a bases-clearing double for the nine-run cushion.
Thomas More's offense was clicking throughout the game. It took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a Cody Macon two-run homer.
Wooster needed just six batters to take the lead during the home half of the opening inning. The first four all reached safely, with Jarrod Mancine taking advantage of a bad hop in the infield for a single, John McLain getting hit by a pitch, Eddie Reese dropping a single into right, and then Zac Mathie pulling an RBI base knock into right to even the scoreboard at two. Following a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Cal Thomay, Frank Vance drove in a run via a groundout to the right side for the 3-2 advantage.
Unfortunately for the Scots, it was all Saints after that. They scored twice in the third, once in the fifth, and then effectively sealed the outcome during the sixth inning.
For White, it marked the end of a remarkable streak as the senior southpaw had entered with a Div.-III leading 12-0 record. He allowed 12 runs over 5.2 innings, however, he did not get much help from the defense as only five were earned. White did strike out seven.
Mancine and Vance paced Wooster's bats, each recording two hits, with one of Mancine's being a triple.