By Austin Walther
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Misericordia used only two pitchers and stranded 14 Yellow Jacket runners on base as the Cougars defeated Randolph-Macon 4-2 in an opening round game at the 2018 Division III World Series.
Miseri (37-13) advances to a winners’ bracket game vs. Texas-Tyler, which defeated Oswego State 10-5 in the first game of the day.
- D-III World Series team-by-team preview
- Pat and Jim wrap up Day 1 from Appleton
- Defenses scuffle as UTT takes Game 1
- Game 2: Miseri leaves Macon stranded
- Game 3: Cougars maul Swarthmore
- Game 4: Wooster gets bulldogged
- World Series Day 1 scoreboard
- World Series Day 2 schedule
- World Series record book
- Photo galleries: Game 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Cougars starter Ian McCole did get into some trouble early on. The Yellow Jackets led off the bottom of the first with a double, but McCole retired the next three in order. Two batters reached base in the second, but McCole got the third out from a strikeout.
|Sean Lyons slides across with the first run of the game. He finished 2-for-4 for Misericordia.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
|Sean Boylan and the Cougars played a solid defensive game in keeping Randolph-Macon under control with runners on base.
Photo by Dave Malamut, d3photography.com
The Cougars then led off the third with a double by Sean Lyons. He advanced to third on a sac bunt. Lyons then came home from a perfectly executed bunt by the leadoff man, who went to second on a throwing error to put the Cougars up 1-0.
“We want to play with a lead,” coach Pete Egbert said. “Playing with a lead enables us to do some other things we want to do. Obviously, you’re facing an All-American pitcher [Colin Selby] and it makes it that much more important.”
Selby did have a solid performance on the mound for the Yellow Jackets. He didn’t have all of his stuff, but he really limited the damage, as he picked off three runners.
“I just knew that they were going to be very active today,” Selby said. “I was trying my best to keep them as close to first base as possible and not letting them get good jumps.”
Selby said he takes advantage of his good pickoff move as an extra tool during the game.
“I usually take a look and see how fast they’re off the bag,” Selby said. “Then based off that, I usually decided whether or not I’m going to take a softer or hard pick and it depends on whoever is on base.”
Misericordia increased its lead when Kenny Jarema scored on a single which was misplayed by a pair of Yellow Jacket defenders.
The Yellow Jackets threatened in the bottom half when leadoff man Ryan Duphorn connected on his second hit of the game with a single. He made it all the way to third with two outs. Randolph-Macon had runners on second and third, but McCole got out of his third consecutive jam to keep the shutout going.
“I was just looking for the left side,” Duphorn said. “When I make my outs, usually it’s to the right side so I was just looking to put things on the left.”
Duphorn once again led off an inning with a hit as he singled in the bottom of the fifth. McCole continued to stay dialed in as he got the next three in order to keep the score 2-0 going into the sixth.
Misericordia drove in an insurance run in the top of the sixth. Steve Weisensee drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on a two-out single from Conor Smith.
“My approach is to get my pitches,” Smith said. “An All-American pitcher, he’s going to be one of the best in the country so I was just trying to find anything he could make mistakes on and I was waiting for something he left over the plate for me.”
Randolph-Macon posed its biggest threat in the game so far when Cole Grinde hit a two-out single and advanced to third from a double by Michael Nickles. After a mound visit, McCole stranded his eighth and ninth runners of the game with a fly out to deep right field.
“I felt like everything was kind of working,” McCole said. “Whatever coach calls, I execute the pitch and see what happens. Our defense played really well.”
The Cougars pulled McCole after six strong innings. Kyle Melahn came in relief and put the first two batters on, including Duphorn with his fourth hit of the game. The Misericordia reliever got the next three batters to go in order.
“We don’t know a lot about them [Randolph-Macon],” Egbert said. “It’s trial by error. So we’re trying to figure out where to locate, who you can pitch backwards to, who you can throw off speed to. Ian was able to work in and work out. He located off speed and kept them off balanced.”
Smith delivered again in the eighth to put the Cougars up 4-0 when he knocked in an RBI double to score Santo Guinta. He was able to knock in two very important insurance runs throughout the game.
“It gives you a huge confidence boost,” Smith said. “Especially for our pitchers to go out there and do the little things and we don’t have to start critiquing things and play our game better.”
Melahn got the first two Yellow Jackets to strikeout in the eighth, but Nickles reached base on an error by the first basemen. He advanced to second from a balk and scored the first Randolph-Macon run when Zach Evans connected on a single to left center.
The Yellow Jackets wouldn’t go away as they got the first two on in the bottom of the ninth and had runners at the corners with one out. Reece Yeargain cut their deficit in half when he broke up a would-be double play, scoring Cole Migliorini. The Cougars got the next batter to ground out, and ended the game with two pitchers only allowing two runs.
Randolph-Macon was getting shut out until the eighth when they delivered two in each of the final inning. Head coach Ray Hedrick was pleased with their resilient offense.
“We’re playing at a very high level right now,” Hedrick said. “I think anytime you can have success at this level and in this environment, it’s a positive. We know we’re good and be competitive at this level.”
Egbert said it was a good game overall by the Cougars, because their biggest emphasis all season has been pitching and defense.
“Ian did a really nice job,” Egbert said. “He’s a freshman, but he’s a competitor so we had no problem putting him out there. He and Kyle pitched us out of some tough spots. They did enough for our offense to squeak by, we played great defense and that’s our formula for success.”
Randolph-Macon (35-8-1) meets Oswego in an elimination game, scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Division III World Series.