WOOSTER, Ohio – The 20th-ranked College of Wooster baseball team's high-powered offense was kept in check, and the Fighting Scots dropped a well-played, tightly-contested 2-1 tilt to the University of Rochester on Friday in the opening game of the 2019 NCAA Div. III Wooster Regional.
Wooster (26-13) now must win a pair of elimination games in order to advance to the championship round of the regional. The first of those will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday against Otterbein University (26-17-1) with the winner advancing to play the loser of the winner's bracket game between Case Western Reserve University (23-13) and Rochester (29-15). First pitch for the CWRU-Rochester game is set for noon.
Rochester starter Jon Turk was the big story in Friday's regional opener. The crafty left-hander set down 17 of the first 18 Wooster batters he faced, including 15 in a row at one point. Turk kept Wooster off balance to the tune of two hits in seven-plus shutout innings. Turk struck out five and walked two.
"Give their kid a lot of credit," said Wooster head coach Tim Pettorini. "He threw really well. We were not very good offensively. Kind of like a continuation of the last part of our season. We're just not very good at home plate, and it showed. Kudos to their guy."
While Turk was keeping Wooster's high-powered offense at bay, battery mate David Rieth provided the power. The Yellowjackets' catcher's two-run, third-inning round-tripper proved to be the only offense Rochester needed in the game.
Wooster senior Jacob Stuursma's two-out single through the left side in the sixth marked the Scots' first hit off Turk, and junior Dan Harwood led off the seventh with a base knock, but did not advance past first.
Wooster's ninth-inning rally started with Harwood's one-out base knock, with senior Garret Crum depositing a single into center right after. Freshman Ben Gbur beat out a fielder's choice with Harwood scoring on the play, and advanced to second on Aaron Craig's errant throw. Alas, that's as close as Wooster came to tying the game, with Rochester closer Brendan Shamieh striking out junior Dan Gail to end the game.
Sophomore Andrew Hill (3-3) toed the rubber and allowed two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. Senior Wyatt Linde entered in relief and did his part by getting Rieth to fish for a pitch with runners on second and third. The southpaw went the rest of the way allowing two hits while adding an additional strikeout to his line.
"I thought Andrew pitched a great game," added Pettorini. "He battled and competed. He made one bad pitch, but overall gave us more than an opportunity to win."
Harwood reached base safely in three of his four trips to the dish with two hits and walk, while the rest of the lineup reached base three times.
Kyle Trombley was one of Rochester's other offensive standouts with a double, two walks, and a hit by pitch.
Noteworthy, Rochester's win was the first in program history in NCAA regional action. The Yellowjackets came into play 0-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
In Friday's second game, Otterbein's Ben Beachy led off the game with a round-tripper, but CWRU rookie left-hander Nick Denove settled in nicely and allowed two hits the rest of the way.
CWRU rallied back and went on to win 4-2. Noah Mehrle pushed the Spartans ahead with an RBI three-bagger in the sixth inning and Tyler Wypiszenski started the eighth with an insurance run that came in the form of a round-tripper.