WOOSTER, Ohio – The fifth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team nearly walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning, but did so in the bottom of the 10th inning to win its 30th game of the season 5-4, before capping Saturday's North Coast Athletic Conference Crossover Series twin bill with a 10-0, eight-inning shutout over visiting Ohio Wesleyan University at Art Murray Field.
Wooster (31-8, 16-2 NCAC East Division) had runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning thanks to an infield single by sophomore Michael Wielansky and an intentional walk issued to senior Jamie Lackner. Then, sophomore Garrett Crum laced a single through the left side and Ohio Wesleyan (14-25, 6-12 NCAC West Division) left fielder John Rings came up firing and threw out Wielansky on a bang-bang play at the plate to send the game into extra innings.
An inning later, senior Ryan Ostendorf drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a two-out base knock by sophomore Chandler Dippman. Then, Battling Bishop catcher Dalton Henderson was unable to corral a pitch from Cody Brown with Ostendorf scampering home on the game-ending passed ball.
Earlier in the game, Wooster overcame a 4-0 deficit, and the Scots started to chip away at the Bishops' advantage with a two-run fourth inning. Lackner drilled a one-out single out to right field and came in two batters later when junior Drew Tornow mashed a two-run home run over the clubhouse at L.C. Boles Memorial Golf Course. Of note, Lackner's run moved the first baseman into Wooster's top 10 for career runs at 159, and he touched home for the 160th time of his career in game two.
In the fifth inning, Wooster pulled within one. The Scots loaded the bases when Dippman poked a single up the middle, first-year Nick Strausbaugh stayed on a pitch and drove it the other way, and junior Jake Fling laid down a bunt in no-man's land for a single. Two batters later, Lackner drew a four-pitch walk to plate the run.
Strausbaugh and Wooster caught a break in the seventh inning as Rings tripped in the outfield on a lined shot enabling the speedy first-year to leg out a one-out triple. Strausbaugh's speed paid off again moments later as he beat the throw to the plate on a Fling sacrifice fly that made it 4-4.
Senior Michael Houdek fanned seven in his 6 2/3 innings of work that saw the lefty allow four runs on six hits, but work effectively to keep Wooster in the hunt. Junior James Usher and Dippman (4-0) – who shifted to pitcher in the ninth after starting the game at third base – combined to keep Ohio Wesleyan off the scoreboard for the final 3 1/3 innings, and that stretch included Usher inheriting a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning.
Offensively, Dippman, Strausbaugh, and Wielansky all recorded two hits for Wooster in the series-opener.
In the nightcap, Wooster jumped all over starter Justin Grubb, and opened up a 4-0 lead after one inning of play. In fact, Wooster's first five men to the plate reached safely as Strausbaugh and Fling started the rally with back-to-back walks before Wielansky laid down a well-placed bunt single. Then, Lackner roped a two-run, two-bagger out to left field, and Crum did likewise with his going into the right-center gap. Notable, Wielansky touched home for the 60th time this season on Crum's double, and he joins W Association Hall of Famer Trevor Urban as the only Scot greats to have back-to-back 60-run seasons in program history.
|Junior Nanak Saran threw a three-hit shutout, and coupled with Monday's start, went 2-0 on the week with no runs allowed in 14 innings or work with 13 strikeouts.|
Junior Nanak Saran went the distance in the nightcap to improve to 6-0 on the season. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and struck out seven. Wooster's defense had the righty's back as Fling made a spectacular diving catch in the top of the second inning that turned into a double play after the Bishops had two men on via a hit by pitch and error.
Later, Ohio Wesleyan strung together its only hits of the game with three straight singles to start the sixth inning, but Dippman, Ostendorf, and Lackner combined to get two quick outs with a 5-2-3 twin killer before Saran took care of the third out with a called-third strike on Ohio Wesleyan cleanup hitter Devin Van Winkle, an at bat Saran fell behind 3-0 prior to the punch out.
In the eighth inning, Wielansky made another spectacular sliding stop in the hole from his shortstop position, and recovered in time to get leadoff hitter Michael Blatchford at first base.
Wooster extended its lead out to six in the fourth inning when Dippman clubbed a two-run home run out to right center with sophomore Jacob Stuursma, who hit a one-out double to the fence in center, coming in on the play. Notable, the round-tripper marked Dippman's first of the season, and coincidentally his first home run of last season also came in the crossover series.
Wooster tacked on two more runs in the sixth inning on a Fling RBI single and a bases-loaded hit by pitch RBI by Lackner. Two innings later, a pair of errors by Ohio Wesleyan in the field accounted for the two runs Wooster needed to reach the run-ahead rule.
Fling, Wielansky, and Lackner accounted for six of Wooster's 11 hits and four of the Scots' eight RBI in game two.
Noteworthy, with his four RBI on the day, Lackner moved into a tie with W Association Hall of Famer Matt Hiestand for the sixth-most in program history at 183. With his intentional walk in the ninth inning of game two, Lackner also moved up to third on Wooster's all-time walks list with 113.
Blatchford and Rings recorded a base knock in both games for Ohio Wesleyan, while the Bishops' 1-4 hitters accounted for nine of the 12 hits on the day.
Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan wrap up the regular season with Sunday's 12 p.m. single game at Art Murray Field.