CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Michael DeBord lined a two-out RBI single into centerfield to break a 6-6 tie in the top of the eighth inning, and keyed by a Billy Farrow double, The College of Wooster added an insurance tally during the ninth for an 8-6 victory over DePauw University in the second championship game of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Saturday at V.A. Memorial Stadium.
DePauw (33-12) had forced a winner-take-all scenario by scratching out a 6-3 win earlier.
Wooster (26-16) extends its league-leading total of NCAC championships to 14, including three of the previous four, and receives the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Div. III Championships field.
The Fighting Scots manufactured a run for what held up as the game-winning score. Tied at six, Cal Thomay started the eighth with a bloop single into center and then pinch hitter Ryan Miner sacrificed pinch runner Bryan Miller to second with a well-executed bunt down the first-base line. After a second out, DeBord delivered on a 1-0 pitch, sending it into center to plate Miller from second.
Farrow, who belted his third home run of the tournament in the seventh inning to put Wooster ahead momentarily at 6-5, nearly cleared the fence again in the ninth, settling for a two-bagger off the wall in left-center. After Zach Jergan singled to put runners on the corners with one out, Miller laid a nice bunt to first, and the Tigers went home with it, but Farrow beat the throw for the two-run cushion.
On the mound, Scot ace Josh Stidham, who entered in relief at the start of the sixth, overcame a pair of one-out singles during the bottom of the ninth by inducing the final hitters into a fly out to left, a few feet short of the warning track, and a pop-out to center to secure the win.
With his second victory of the tourney, Stidham improved to 7-2, and the one run he gave up over four innings of work was of the unearned variety.
The two teams had exchanged single tallies during the second inning, including a Thomay smash to left field, the third home run of the season for the sophomore corner infielder.
DePauw went ahead for the first time via a Robbie Stein RBI base knock in the fourth, only to see Wooster bounce back with a pair of fifth-inning runs. John McClain opened the frame with a double into the left-center gap and Jarrod Mancine brought him around on a one-out single up the middle. While Mancine would get caught stealing to empty the bases, the Scots kept the hits coming as Zack Vesco singled and Eddie Reese stroked an RBI double into right-center to take a 3-2 advantage.
The scoring continued into the home half of the fifth, highlighted by Rob McPike's two-run homer that gave the Tigers back the lead at 4-3. Jason Cohen and Stein each doubled for another run.
Following a scoreless sixth, Wooster set Farrow up with runners on first and second and two outs for the pivotal at bat of the game. DePauw elected to go after him and the sophomore first baseman responded with a three-run blast well beyond the left-center field fence, marking Farrow's eighth dinger of the campaign.
While DePauw tied it up again via an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers couldn't keep up with the Scots' offensive pace or solve Stidham in the end.
Leading Wooster with three hits in the championship were Mancine (3-for-3) and Farrow (3-for-4), while recording two apiece were Vesco (2-for-3), Thomay (2-for-4), and DeBord (2-for-4).
Cohen turned in a perfect 5-for-5 performance and Stein (2-for-5) drove in three runs to pace the Tigers.
Reese's big hits and consistent solid play throughout the three-day event landed him the tournament MVP, and DeBord, Farrow, Stidham, and Thomay joined him on the all-tourney team from the Scots.
In Saturday's first game, Farrow hit a towering shot over the left-field fence to put Wooster ahead 2-0 in the second inning, but it was all DePauw after that. The Tigers scored three in the third and three in the sixth while limiting the Scots to just four total hits en route to the three-run triumph.