No. 5 Wooster Clinches First-Place in NCAC East Division, Spot in NCAC Tourney with Monday's 5-0, 15-7 Sweep Over Hiram

Drew Tornow
Michael Whitaker

WOOSTER, Ohio – The fifth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team clinched the North Coast Athletic Conference East Division, and has earned a spot in next week's NCAC Tournament at VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio after a 5-0 and 15-7 sweep over visiting Hiram College on Monday afternoon at Art Murray Field.

Wooster (29-6, 14-2 NCAC East) jumped on the board in the bottom of the second inning in the day's first game when sophomore Garrett Crum lifted out his fourth round-tripper of the season to left field to lead off the inning. Junior Drew Tornow followed with a two-bagger and came in on a RBI ground out by sophomore Chandler Dippman.

Two innings later, senior Ryan Ostendorf reached on a hit by pitch to lead off the fourth, and Dippman moved the Scots' catcher up 90 feet on a single up the middle. Two batters later, junior Jake Fling knocked in Ostendorf with an infield single to make it 3-0 in advance of sophomore Michael Wielansky lacing a two-run single up the middle to extend Wooster's lead out to five.

Junior Nanak Saran improved to 5-0 on the year with five innings of shutout baseball. The right-hander fanned six on the day, one shy of his season-high.

Notable, senior Michael Whitaker worked a scoreless seventh inning, and the appearance moved the right-hander into the top 10 all time in Div. III relief appearances. The outing marked Whitaker's 89th career outing out of the bullpen.

Crum and Wielansky accounted for half of Wooster's eight hits, and the duo had three RBI in the game.

Defensively, Wooster caught a big break in the top of the fourth inning as Hiram (14-19, 4-12 NCAC East) had two runners in scoring position with one out. Then, the Terriers didn't execute on a squeeze bunt play leaving Mike Eversol stranded in no man's land with Ostendorf hustling up the third-base line to apply the tag.

Wooster's bats erupted for twice as many hits (16) in the nightcap as the Scots had in game one, and five of those came in the first inning as Wooster raced out to a 7-0 lead. First-year Nick Strausbaugh reached on an error to start the inning with Fling sending the left fielder all of the way around the bases when he knocked a triple into the right field corner. Notable, the triple marked Fling's 11th of his career, and he's now tied with Wielansky for the fourth-most in program history.

Next, Wielansky poked a single into left field and came in two batters later on a RBI base knock by Tornow. Then, Wooster had its second triple of the inning as first-year Dan Harwood plated two runs on a ball drilled into the right field corner. In fact, Wooster nearly had a chance for three triples in the inning when Strausbaugh nailed a two-out, two-run double to right center, but Hiram quickly got the ball in, forcing Strausbaugh to put the brakes on.

Hiram cut into Wooster's lead with a two-run single by Ty Walchanowicz in the top of the second inning, but the Scots answered right back with a three-run frame. Senior Jamie Lackner and Crum drew back-to-back one-out walks in advance of Tornow's two-run triple to right center. Of note, the triple marked the 10th of Tornow's career, and he's now tied for sixth in the program annals, and Wooster now has three active players with double-digit career three-baggers in Fling (11), Wielansky (11), and Tornow.

Harwood capped the second inning by plating his third run of the day on a sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Wooster extended its lead out to 10 on RBI base knocks by Ostendorf and Strausbaugh.

Hiram pulled within five at 12-7 after a five-run sixth inning, but Wooster pushed across an insurance run in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. In the sixth, Wooster's aggressive base running paid off as sophomore Jacob Stuursma stole second and third before trotting home on a Hiram throwing error. An inning later, Lackner hustled home from second on a single through the right side by Tornow, while in the eighth inning, sophomore Satchel Daleo pulled a leadoff two-bagger down the third-base line and came in on a single by pinch hitter Dan Gail.

Dippman improved to 3-0 with the win. The right-hander allowed three earned runs in six innings of work, while sophomore Wyatt Linde, first-year Jeremy Parton, and junior Alec Hammond combined to work three innings of scoreless relief in support of the Scots' starter.

Offensively, Wooster was paced by a 3-for-5 game by Tornow that featured four RBI and three runs, while Wielansky added three base knocks.

Tyler Carcioppolo and Walchanowicz combined for seven hits to lead the way for Hiram at the plate.

Next, Wooster hosts Otterbein University (24-12) in a doubleheader on Wednesday, May 3 with first pitch set for 1 p.m.