APPLETON, Wis. – Senior Jake Fling delivered in the clutch with a two-run triple to pull the fourth-ranked College of Wooster baseball team within one run in the top of the fifth inning, but another fantastic season of Fighting Scots baseball came to a close on Saturday afternoon, as Swarthmore College topped Wooster 10-5 in the NCAA Div. III Championships at Fox Cities Stadium, and in doing so knocked the Black & Gold out of the double-elimination tournament.
"It was obviously not the Fighting Scots' day," said head coach Tim Pettorini. "It's a shame because we had a great group of kids and really played well all year long. We hadn't lost two games in a row all year. We picked a bad weekend to have a clunk. Give Swarthmore credit. They pitched it well and swung it well."
For the second day in a row at the championships, Wooster (40-10) was dealt a three-run blow in the first inning. Three hits in the frame, two of which came via RBI two-baggers by Jackson Roberts and Jared Gillen, led to the three-spot for the Garnet (38-10).
The Garnet kept up the pressure in the second inning, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Charles Levitt widened the Scots' hole to 4-0.
Wooster scored its first run of the game – and of the Div. III Championships – in the top of the third inning, thanks to the help of Swarthmore's defense. The Garnet's Matt Palmer dropped what would've been an inning-ending pop up, which enabled junior Chandler Dippman to score. Dippman reached via a one-out single up the middle.
The score stood at 4-1 until the top of the fifth inning. Junior Harrison Walls led off the frame with a single over the head of third baseman Conor Elliott, and Dippman primed the offense with a walk. After junior Jacob Stuursma swapped spots with Dippman on a fielder's choice, Fling put a charge into a 3-1 pitch and hammered it to the wall in the right-center alley. Dippman and Stuursma scooted around the bases to make it a 4-3 game, but that's as close as the Scots came.
Wooster did threaten later in the inning, and in fact nearly tied the game, but catcher Kenji Yoshii was able to track down a wild pitch in time to throw out a late-breaking Fling at the plate, and on the day, four Wooster runners ran into outs on the bases.
Swarthmore answered back, and then some, with the Garnet's three-spot in the bottom of the inning making it a 7-3 contest. Gillen did the heavy lifting via a two-run double.
In the eighth inning, Roberts stepped up in the heavy lifting department with a two-run dinger over the double-tiered billboards in left-center, and that shot opened up a six-run lead at 9-3. Swarthmore plated an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
|Senior James Usher (L) congratulates Drew Tornow after the Scots' senior right fielder homered in his final collegiate at bat. Photo courtesy of Russell Kramer, NCAC.|
Wooster did its best to rally back from a seven-run deficit in the ninth inning, starting with sophomore Dan Harwood's leadoff single. Two batters later, Drew Tornow blasted a two-run round tripper out to right field in his final collegiate at bat. Sophomore Nick Strausbaugh kept the Scots hopes alive with a two-bagger down the left field line, but Swarthmore starter Sawyer Lake dug deep and struck out the final two batters to finish off the complete-game.
Lake allowed five runs (four earned) on nine hits, and struck out three. Offensively, Cole Beeker and Roberts combined to go 8-for-10 with six runs and four RBI on the day.
Stuursma led Wooster with two hits, while Fling and Tornow had two RBI each.
Despite going two-and-out at the NCAA Div. III Championships, the 2018 season still had plenty of big-time moments for the program. Wooster won its sixth Mideast Regional Championship (first since 2009), and extended its league-lead in North Coast Athletic Conference titles to 18 with a third-straight championship. This year's senior class capped their careers with a 149-42 record and made three appearances in the NCAA Div. III Tournament.
Individually, Fling finished his illustrious career tied for third all-time in Div. III history with 773 at bats, and tied for 14th all-time with 217 runs. Among Wooster greats, Fling's at bats are a program record, his runs are tied for third, his 258 base knocks rank fourth, and his 185 games played are the second-most.
Other major program highlights from the season include standout shortstop Michael Wielansky become the second known player in Div. III history to have 200 hits, 200 runs, and 150 RBI before the end of his junior year, the program having three All-Americans – Dippman, Harwood, and Wielansky, Wielansky being named the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3baseball.com's consensus Mideast Region Player-of-the-Year, and the team ranking No. 1 in a national poll for the first time since 2008.