WASHINGTON, Pa. – Sophomore middle infield duo Jacob Stuursma and Michael Wielansky combined for six RBI, four runs, and four hits as the eighth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team lived to see another day with a 12-0 win over Misericordia University in an elimination game at the 2017 NCAA Div. III Mideast Regional on Friday morning at Ross Memorial Park.
Wielansky jump-started Wooster (36-9) with a two-run home run out to left field on a payoff pitch in the top of the first inning. Of note, the round-tripper marked the shortstop's 75th hit of the season, and the 15th time a Fighting Scot has reached the three-quarter century mark.
"I think it was huge," said head coach Tim Pettorini on the first-inning runs. "We've been in elimination games a lot of times where if you don't score and get to the third, fourth, fifth inning, everybody starts looking around and everybody's getting a little tight. That kind of let everyone relax a little bit and take a deep breath. When Nanak went out there and threw the way he did right off the bat, everybody got a better perspective of what was going on, and we just played."
Stuursma doubled Wooster's lead to 4-0 with a two-out, two-run single down the right field line in the second inning. First-year Nick Strausbaugh set up the inning with a leadoff ground-rule two-bagger to right field. Then, junior Jake Fling drew a two-out walk and moved up to second on a stolen base in advance of the RBI poke.
Later, Stuursma helped put the game out of reach with a second two-run base knock that came as part of a three-spot in the eighth inning to make it 9-0. Sophomore Chandler Dippman sparked the eighth-inning offensive outburst with a leadoff walk and had one of the Scots' three steals in the inning. Sophomore Garrett Crum capped the frame with a single through the left side of the infield, an inning after knocking a run-scoring ground-rule double out to right center.
Wooster extended its lead to 5-0 in the third inning as the Scots drew three straight walks to start the inning before reliever Elliot Forde worked out of the jam with a RBI fielder's choice by Strausbaugh and an unfortunate lineout double play with senior Ryan Ostendorf at the plate.
Later, Wooster made it a 12-0 game with a second straight three-spot in the ninth inning thanks to RBI base knocks by Dippman and senior pinch-hitter Jake Kail, with Kail later coming in to score on a wild pitch.
Junior Nanak Saran improved to 8-0 on the year, and he worked seven scoreless innings while scattering five hits.
"I thought he kind of controlled the game right from the start, throwing a lot of strikes, and multiple pitches for strikes," said Pettorini. "He really looked like himself."
Offensively, Stuursma swiped three bags on the day while Crum finished with two hits and the pair of RBI. Lackner went 1-for-2, but reached base safely in four of his five trips to the plate.
Notable, Fling extended his hit streak out to 13 with his eighth-inning single.
Defensively, Wooster was aided by a 1-4-3 double play after a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, and a fantastic diving catch by Strausbaugh for the second out in the ninth inning.
Chad Bell recorded two of Misericordia's five hits, while Forde allowed one run on two hits in five innings of relief while striking out seven.
Next, Wooster awaits the loser of the contest between DePauw University (32-11) and Keystone College (32-13) that now takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with first pitch for the Scots' game set for approximately 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.