WOOSTER, Ohio – The top-ranked College of Wooster baseball team won the 2018 North Coast Athletic Conference Championship outright with a 17-1 win over visiting Kenyon College in the regular-season finale, and in doing so, secured the No. 1 seed for next week's NCAC Tournament, but prior to that, the Lords stunned the Fighting Scots 11-10 in a game one on Saturday afternoon at Art Murray Field.
Regardless of Saturday's outcome, Wooster (34-6, 16-2 NCAC) was already guaranteed at least a share of the regular-season crown by virtue of its 7-5 win over Wittenberg University on Wednesday night. The conference championship is the program's NCAC-leading 18th.
Kenyon (16-16, 10-8 NCAC), on the other hand, was one of six teams vying for the final two spots in next week's league tourney at day's onset, and with the win, the Lords are guaranteed in as long as Ohio Wesleyan University doesn't sweep Wittenberg tomorrow. The NCAC office will release the official seeds for the tournament and break any ties per league policies at the conclusion of tomorrow's Ohio Wesleyan-Wittenberg doubleheader.
Picking up the action in game two, junior Garrett Crum laced a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning to plate junior Michael Wielansky, who reached on a single to left field to make it a 1-0 ball game.
Wooster erupted for a seven-run third inning after Kenyon tied the game at one in the top of the inning. Senior Jake Fling sparked the big inning with a leadoff double to left field, and he scored the tying run on a RBI base knock by sophomore Dan Harwood. Noteworthy, the RBI marked Harwood's 60th of the year, and thanks to Crum's 60th in the day's opener, Wooster now has two student-athletes over 60 RBI in a season for the first time since Pat Christensen (64) and W Association Hall of Famer Luke Ullman (63) in 2005. Overall, it's the fifth time the feat's happened in program history.
|All four of junior Chandler Dippman's career home runs have come on the weekend prior to the NCAC Tournament.|
Senior Drew Tornow knocked in the go-ahead run with a RBI single, and sophomore Dan Gail stroked a RBI base knock seven pitches later. Junior Chandler Dippman put the bow on the frame with a three-run homer to right field.
Ironically, given Dippman's career, the third baseman was due for a round tripper on Saturday, as the three-run blast marked his first of the season. Dippman now has four career home runs, and all have come on the weekend preceding the NCAC Tournament.
Wooster, which hit six home runs between Saturday's two games, tacked on four runs in the fifth inning on a pair of two-run blasts to make it 12-1. Fling rocketed a payoff pitch over the left field fence, and two batters later, Harwood smoked a 2-0 offering off the roof of the L.C. Boles Memorial Golf Course clubhouse.
In the sixth inning, junior Harrison Walls ripped a 2-2 pitch out to left field for the Scots' third two-run shot of the game. The round tripper marked the first of Walls' career.
Wooster's reserves kept the offense rolling with three runs over the final two at bats.
Five Scots logged multi-hit games in the nightcap, including Walls, who had a team-high three. Dippman and Harwood each knocked in three runs.
Junior Brian Murray improved to 5-1 on the year. The Scots' righty allowed one run on six hits while striking out four before turning the game ball over to a trio of relievers.
Mikey Arman tallied two of the Lords' eight base knocks.
In game one, Wooster had plenty of chances to overcome a 9-2 deficit, but Kenyon reliever Jesse Bogacz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, and the Scots were the victim on a pair of big defensive plays by the Lords' left side of the infield, including in the eighth inning when Matt Contreras robbed a hit from the Scots.
Prior to Contreras getting Kenyon closer Will Oakley out of the eighth-inning jam, Walls pulled Wooster within one with a two-run double to left center.
Earlier, Wooster was nipping at Kenyon's heels in the fifth inning after a two-run Gail homer pulled the Scots within 9-7. The Lords tacked on two runs in the sixth inning on Arman's two-bagger which bumped the lead out to four.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Wielansky legged out a leadoff two-bagger and came in to score on Crum's 60th RBI of the season. With the RBI, Crum's the first scot since alumnus Jamie Lackner (2015) to have a 60-RBI season.
Five innings prior to Wielansky's leadoff double, the shortstop upped his career RBI haul to 150 with a two-run first inning single that brought Wooster level with Kenyon.
Other game one offensive highlights included a solo homer by Tornow during the bottom of the fourth inning.
Walls went 3-for-3 with the two-run double after entering as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Senior Nanak Saran took the loss for Wooster and fell to 7-2 on the year. The right-hander became the 13th Wooster pitcher to surpass 200 career strikeouts and the 13th to pitch over 250 career innings prior to exiting in the fourth inning.
Arman logged a team-high four RBI for Kenyon in game one, while Patrick O'Leary went 3-for-5 with three RBI, all of which came on the Lords' third homer of the game.
The NCAC Tournament is set to open on Thursday at V.A. Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio.