WOOSTER, Ohio – Eddie Reese broke a 9-9 tie in dramatic fashion, as he hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift The College of Wooster to a 13-9 comeback victory against Allegheny College during Sunday's opener at Art Murray Field, which clinched first-place for the Fighting Scots in the North Coast Athletic Conference East Division. Allegheny avoided getting swept in the two-day, four-game series by holding off Wooster in the nightcap, 15-12.
Wooster (23-12, 13-3 NCAC East), as the No. 1 seed in the NCAC East Division, will play host to Ohio Wesleyan University (12-22, 6-10 NCAC West), the fourth-place team from the West, in a three-game set May 3-4, with the winner advancing to the NCAC Tournament.
For quite a while on Sunday, it looked like the top seed from the division would come down to a fourth and final game between the two rivals, as the Scots trailed Allegheny (25-11, 11-5 NCAC East) by a 7-0 count through two innings.
Wooster was still down entering the bottom of the sixth, just 9-8, when Kenny Reckart started the defining frame by beating out a bouncer back to the mound as the pitcher couldn't glove it. Cal Thomay followed with an RBI double to the wall in left-center, and it was tied for the second time.
The Scots loaded the bases when Bryan Miller singled and the Gators elected to walk Jarrod Mancine intentionally with one out. The visitors looked like they might get out of the jam, striking out the next hitter, but then Reese came through, driving a 2-2 offering just beyond the fence in left-center. It was the second grand slam of his career and also the second for Wooster in as many games.
Wooster scratched out two more tallies in the fourth inning, one coming on another Vance RBI base knock, and after Allegheny regained a little momentum with a run in the top of the fifth, the Scots tied it 8-8 on a two-out, two-run single by Mathie.
Reese's home run helped give Jon Rothman the win on the mound, as Wooster's closer improved to 2-1 after allowing one run in two innings of work.
The Scots nearly had an even more impressive comeback in game two. Allegheny jumped on top 12-2 through three innings, with nine of its runs coming during the third, headlined by three-run homers off the bats of Robert DiMaggio and Mike Pezzone.
Wooster chipped away, plating runs in six consecutive innings, highlighted by a Mancine two-run round-tripper to left-center in the fourth and a Mathie two-run shot to the opposite field (left) in the ninth.
The latter brought the Scots within three (15-12), and with two outs, Billy Farrow earned a walk and Vance found a hole through the left side to bring the tying run to the plate in Jamie Lackner. After Lackner fouled off a series of pitches, Pezzone, who made the move from centerfield to pitcher to face Vance, induced a game-ending fielder's choice play.
Offensively, Vance had six hits for the second day in a row, going 6-for-7 with two RBI, and he also was hit by a pitch twice. That gives him an outstanding line for the four-game series of 12-for-13 with five RBI, two walks, and two hit by pitches.
Also of note, Mathie went 6-for-9 with five RBI on the day, including a double and the home run. The double marked the 50th of his career, the seventh in team history to reach that milestone.
Next, Wooster is scheduled to host Ohio Northern University (23-11) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.