By Jim Dixon
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Chapman got a big defensive stop in the fourth and proceeded to score four unanswered runs to defeat Washington and Jefferson 8-4 and move into the bracket final with Mass-Boston in 2019 Division III World Series action to open play at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Sunday.
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With the bases loaded, no outs and one run already in, it looked like a breakout inning was in the offing for the Presidents. A line shot to Chapman second baseman Aaron Wong, however, caught Mullen Socha off the bag for a double play. The Panthers escaped without any further damage and the Presidents never mounted another challenge off another effective performance by the Chapman bullpen.
To minimize that inning with a good pitch, the soft play, that gave us a little momentum," said Chapman head coach Scott Laverty. "A huge moment switch. We came off the field feeling good even though they tied it up."
|Cody Turner pitched four innings of scoreless relief, allowing two base runners to pick up his fifth win of the year.
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com
"All those guys over in their dugout have experience getting here and getting two wins from them is pretty huge," said Laverty. "For us to comeback has been one of our trademarks. We pitch, we play defense, we are scrappy offensively. We just keep battling until 27 outs are made."
Chapman opened the game scoring without the benefit of a hit. A one-out walk to Brad Shimabuku was followed by his theft of second and a wild pitch by W&J starter Jansen Eichenlaub. Eichenlaub had trouble picking up a grounder by Joe Jimenez that allowed Shimabuku to score.
The Presidents got on the board with a three-run second. Joe Bolick walked and came around to score on Justin Griffin's single. With Dante Dalesandro on first with a free pass, Socha's triple to right cleared the bases, giving W&J a 3-1 lead.
Chapman pulled within a run in the third. Wong walked and it was time for a call to the bullpen. Garrett Harstine relieved the W&J starter and two batters in his stint on the mound, Shimabuku got Chapman's first hit of the game, a run-scoring single to right.
|Along with a key defensive play, Aaron Wong was 1-for-2 with two walks, scoring three times, in a 8-4 win for the Panthers.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
The Panthers regained the lead with two runs in the fourth inning only to see the Presidents tie the score in their turn at the plate. Mack Cheli (hit by pitch) and Wong (walk) reached and scored on Alex Tsuruda's double down the left field line.
W&J loaded the bases with two walks and a hit by pitch. This was the end of the day for the Chapman starter, Mason Collins. His replacement, Cody Turner, was greeted with a base knock by Josh Crummer that moved each runner up a base with Shayne Erny scoring. The line-out double play opened a base for Adam Moore's walk but that was all for the Presidents as Joey Bolick closed out the inning, flying out to the left fielder.
Chapman regained the lead for the third time in the sixth. Jarod Penniman reached on a two-base throwing error by the W&J third baseman. He came home on Wong's first safety of the day. Wong later scored on another single by Shinabuku.
Cody Turner was what the Panthers needed on the mound. Following the big defensive stop in the fourth, Turner only allowed one baserunner in three innings before giving way to the Nick Garcia, the Chapman closer. Garcia finished off the game with two perfect innings to register his 11th save of the year.
"He was throwing strikes, maybe a little harder," said Socha about Turner. "He had a little more velocity and his slider was a little sharper."
W&J ended its season and will have a lot of seniors in key roles to replace in 2020.
"It is never easy when your season ends, when you think you left some things on the table," said W&J head coach Jeff Mountain. "I am really happy and proud of these seniors, how they have evolved as men, how great they have been to work with. Everything they did for the program, I will be forever grateful."