St. Thomas sends Cortland packing

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Jack Hogan slides in with the game's first run to give St. Thomas an early lead, but it was his sacrifice fly in the sixth that gave the Tommies the lead for good against Cortland State. photo by Larry Radloff

By Gary Flick for

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- The St. Thomas Tommies held off a ninth-inning charge from the Red Dragons of Cortland State to win 7-6 and keep their national championship hopes alive in the 2012 Division III World Series at Fox Cities Stadium.

A lot of contact was made in a game that only recorded seven strikeouts and clean defenses kept the game close throughout. Only one error was made in the game and it was a on a mishandled pickup after a St. Thomas double off of the fence.

“Our defense brought our A games,” said St. Thomas third baseman Charles Bruchu. “I definitely think our defense was the key to our win today.”

The Tommies were the first on the scoresheet when Jack Hogan came home on a wild pitch following his leadoff double and a tag up to advance to third.

St. Thomas struck again in the second after Dan Reichart poked a single through and got in to scoring position on John Molloy’s second wild pitch in as many innings. Sam Miller made the Red Dragons pay when he brought home Reichart with a single of his own.

Cortland threatened in the top of the third putting men at the corners with two down, but starting pitcher Mark Dominik was able to dodge the bullet by getting John Adornetto to ground out to second.

The Tommies looked like they would score again in the third when they loaded the bases but Malloy was able to get out of the jam and keep the lead at 2-0.

After solid pitching by both teams in the fourth, the Red Dragons came out swinging in the fifth. Chris Jackson sparked the four-run inning with a leadoff double off the top of the center field wall. A Bryan Mistretta ground ball found its way to the outfield to put runners on the corners with no outs and the top of the lineup coming up.

Matt June drew a walk to load up the bases and an RBI fielder’s choice from Andrew Pezzuto brought in the Red Dragons’ first run of the game. With two down, Max Rosing launched a triple to right center to bring in June and Pezzuto. The very next pitch was a 400 foot double off the left-center field wall to bring in Rosing and take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth.

St. Thomas answered quickly in the bottom of the frame by putting runners at the corners with a pair of singles. Tim Kuzniar came across on a Dylan Thomas sac fly and a Nick Reichert double to left brought in Bruchu to knot the game at four.

Fun facts from the Division III World Series record book

When Cortland State hit its second triple of the inning it was the tenth time this had happened in the Division III World Series. The last time two triples were hit in an innings was 2010, where Cortland accomplished the feat against Johns Hopkins.

After giving up four runs in the fifth, Mark Dominik came back out in the sixth and conceded only a walk to shut down the Red Dragons. He had only recorded 22 innings on the season as the team’s fourth arm in the rotation but pitched a good game.

“Domink has great stuff. Better stuff than most 4’s in the country,” said head coach Chris Olean. “He played great and expect big things from him as we move on.”

The Tommies struck quickly in the bottom of the frame to reclaim the lead, a lead which they would have the rest of the game.

Dan Reichert started things off with a leadoff single and a perfect hit and run opened the whole right side of the infield for pinch hitter Steve Novak to put a ground ball into right and place runners at the corners. A Jack Hogan sacrifice fly plated Reichert and a two out triple by Tim Kuzniar brought in Novak to go up 6-4.

Reliever Mark Ulrich pitched a nearly-perfect 1.2 innings to preserve the lead and head in to the ninth up 7-4 after Jon Kinsel came home on an RBI fielder’s choice from Bruchu in the bottom of the eighth.

With World Series title hopes dwindling, senior Matt June started off the top of the ninth by diving safely into first base after a chopper to Dan Reichert and a foot race to the bag. A walk put two on and an RBI single by John Adornetto cut the lead to 7-5 and put the tying run on first with nobody out.

Deciding to let Max Rosing, who had a towering triple earlier in the game, swing away rather than sacrifice proved costly as Rosing grounded in to a 6-4-3 double play that plated Pezzuto but left the bases empty with two outs. Ace Steve Maher finished ended the game with a strikeout to preserve the 7-6 lead and send the Tommies to the final day of the World Series.

St. Thomas awaits the winner of the Marietta-Wheaton (Mass.) game, needing to win twice on Wednesday to claim its third Division III baseball national championship.