Wild Walkoff Sends North Central to NCAA Regional

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

May 11, 2019 – Persevering through a four-hour, six-minute rain delay, a change in venues and a tug on the heart strings, a controversial play at the plate in the bottom of the tenth inning propelled the Cardinals to the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Tournament Championship in a game that began at Zimmerman Stadium and was finished at Lee Pfund Stadium, earning North Central the conference's automatic bid to next week's NCAA Division III Regional.
First pitch at Zimmerman Stadium was thrown at 1:13 p.m. and the Cardinals came out on fire, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first as Jeremy Quade and Rob Marinec each singled with one out in the inning.  Quade then forced the Titans hand, swiping third while the subsequent throw sailed into left field, allowing Quade to trot home and open the scoring.
With runners on first and third following a John Carmody single, Joe Rizzo came through with a clutch two-out triple down the right field line, scoring a pair, while Ryan Scott followed with another two-out hit, a single to left to score Rizzo and give North Central an early 4-0 lead.
The Titans got on the board with a run in each of the second and fourth, while Sutherland gained one of those runs back with a RBI-double in the bottom of the fourth before the rains came forcing the four-plus hour delay and a change in venues as Zimmerman Stadium was deemed unplayable.
Picking up in the top of the fifth inning at Wheaton College's Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Illinois at 6:31 p.m., the game took a turn for the worse for North Central as the delay killed any momentum the Cardinals had and the Titans took advantage, batting around to plate five runs on six hits to suddenly take a 7-5 lead.
After getting one run back in the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals were down to their last out with the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth.  Rizzo was able to draw a walk on a full count, while Scott followed suit with another walk to bring Jared Wojcik to the plate.  With John Petty and Alex Khatcherian pinch running for Rizzo and Scott, respectively, Wojcik lined a single to center field sending Petty around to score and tying the game 7-7 to force extras.
After a 1-2-3 inning for Nick Rogalski in the top of the 10th, Sutherland walked to lead off the bottom half and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Quade.  The Titans then issued Marinec an intentional walk while Carmody was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one away. 
With the bases juiced full of Cardinals, Colin Weilbacher dribbled one in front of the mound that was fielded by Titan pitcher Nick Brune and shoveled home where Sutherland slid in head first in a bang-bang play at the plate and was called safe by the home plate umpire, sending the Cardinals to the Regional in style and concluding the game at 8:06 p.m.
Rogalski was fantastic in relief for the Cardinals, tossing the final 5 1/3 innings to earn the win, allowing just three hits.
Rizzo finished 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBI to lead the offense, while Wojcik and Stoltz were each 2-for-5 with a RBI.  Carmody also finished 2-for-5 with a run scored, while Scott was 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and a run scored.
The CCIW Tournament Championship is the third-straight for North Central and the 10th in program history, becoming just the second team in conference history to win three in a row.
North Central (31-11) qualifies for the NCAA Division III Regional for the 11th time in program history (1973, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1998, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) and makes their fourth-straight appearance at the regional.
Where the Cardinals will be headed will be announced by the NCAA on Monday, May 13 as the NCAA Division III Baseball Selection Show will air at 12 p.m. (ET) at NCAA.com.