|Steve Hagen's fifth complete game of the season kept Wooster alive at the NCAA regional on Thursday. (photos courtesy Bret Billhardt)|
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Third-seeded College of Wooster held off a ninth-inning comeback bid by Penn State Behrend, as Steve Hagen struck out the final batter for a complete-game 3-2 victory in the teams' NCAA Div. III Championship regional match-up at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology's Art Nehf Field Thursday afternoon.
With the win, Wooster (33-11) advances through the losers' bracket and will face either Manchester University or Washington & Jefferson College on Friday at 10 a.m.
Hagen rode a shutout into the ninth, then after a leadoff single, Penn State Behrend (30-12), the No. 7 seed, strung together a couple of two-out hits, with Vinny Rice's single into right-center plating two to bring the winning run to the plate. The Fighting Scots' junior hurler bared down, closing with the strikeout.
It appeared for quite a while that all of the game's offense came during the first two innings. In the top of the first, Eddie Reese drove a one-out double to deep left-center to bring in Jarrod Mancine for the initial run. It marked Reese's 20th two-bagger this year – the 10th 20-double season in program history.
Cal Thomay led off the second inning by lining a single off of the pitcher, Craig Day walked, and Ryan Miner moved each of them up a base via a sacrifice bunt. Bryan Miller provided the RBI via a groundball out to short, extending Wooster's lead to 2-0.
Despite both offenses frequently threatening, the score remained the same until the ninth inning. First, the Scots tacked on what turned out to be a very important insurance run. Day drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, however two outs later, he was still on second. Mancine then came through with the clutch single to centerfield, with the throw home not accurate enough to get Day.
That allowed Hagen to improve to 8-3 on the season. The Lions totaled 12 hits – 11 singles and a ninth-inning double – off of him, but Hagen did not walk any to help keep them in check.
Hagen also was the beneficiary of some good defense throughout. In the fourth, Miner made a nice sliding catch in centerfield to prevent the first two batters from reaching safely, and later in the inning with two runners in scoring position and one out, Thomay, the first baseman, collected a slow roller and went to home plate for the force-out.
In the sixth, shortstop John McLain made a play deep in the hole to help his pitcher out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam.
Offensively for Wooster, Thomay was 2-for-3 and Miller 2-for-4 with an RBI plus three stolen bases.