By Jim Dixon
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Washington and Jefferson took a big step to their first baseball Championship with a 12-2 win over Cal Lutheran in the opening game of the 2017 NCAA D-III Championship Series on neurosciences group field at Fox Cities Stadium.
"Give all the credit to W&J," said Cal Lutheran head coach. "They took the game from the start. We have been on both sides when you get blown out and never really were in the game. We need to show better and I know we will."
|Ryan Sciullo two hits, including his seventh triple of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Matt Heslin scattered nine hits to pick up his fifth win without a loss in 2017.
Matt Heslin pitched the second complete game of the D-III College World Series as he held the Kingsmen offense to two runs. Heslin has plenty of offensive to back up his pitching performance with four batters, led by Kevin Begley, with multiple hits in the game.
"He battled," said W&J head coach Jeff Mountain about Heslin's performance. "He was good enough to win and rested the bull pen."
"I attacked the hitters," said Heslin. "I knew they were an aggressive team. I threw a two-seam fastball to get a lot of ground balls and trust my fielders."
Both teams combined for seven errors, with W&J committing four of the seven.
"Probably not what you expect to see if your watching a best-of-three D-III World Series game," said Mountain. "A little sloppy around, us included. We had a ground ball pitcher on the mound and he had to record all 27 outs from the defense. When that happens, at this level, there will be some misplays."
Mountain stressed how important it was to win the first three innings all week and the Presidents wasted no time in doing just that. Single runs in the first and second had W&J up 2-0 after three innings.
Adam LaRue walked to open the game and moved to second on Derek Helbing's single to left. Two fly balls, one to right and one to left, advanced and scored LaRue. Third baseman Jimmy Jauregui misplayed Ryan Sciullo's ground ball and a single by Jake Gordon put runners on the corners. Keven Begley's double play brought home Sciullo.
"I thought the first two runs we scored were key," said Mountain. "We took advantage of some of the things they gave us."
With the first third of the game in their pocket, W&J continued to add on. Three straight two-out hits fueled a two-spot in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Sciullo and Gordon scored one with a Bagley safety bringing home Gordon. W&J scored three in the fifth on a Nick Gatins sacrifice fly and a Sciullo triple to right-center.
"The key was the bottom of the fourth," said Mountain. "With a 4-0 lead, Matt had to get five outs as we had two errors that inning to put up a zero and bounced back in the fifth inning with three runs there"
Cal Lutheran's only runs came in the sixth inning. Jauregui singled up the middle and moved to third on Weston Clark's double. Brad Fullerton removed the goose egg in the runs column with a single that bounced through the right side. Cheynne Giles's sacrifice fly scored Clark.
W&J added a run in the eighth inning and four in the ninth.
Heslin allowed two runs on nine hits as he earned the win. Marshall Pautsch took the loss for the Kingsmen, lasting 4 and two-thirds. He allowed seven runs, four earned on eight hits. He walked one and struck out two. Jeff Rebello went three and one-third with four runs, all earned, on three hits. he walked two and struck out one. Jaden Stomire pitched the final inning with one run, earned, on one hit and a walk.
Begley led all hitters with three hits. LaRue, Sciullo, and Gordon have two hits for W&J. Begley drove in four with Gatins driving in three. Max Weinstien had three hits to extend his single season hits record to 81 hits.
W&J will play Cal Lutheran for the Walnut and Bronze on Tuesday starting at 11 a.m. CDT. The Presidents will need to win one while the Kingsmen will have to win twice on Tuesday.