CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- The Washington & Jefferson College baseball team saw its second appearance in the NCAA Division III College World Series come to an end with an 8-4 setback to No. 6 Chapman at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
With the loss, the Presidents end 2019 with a 38-13 overall record to go along with a 9-2 mark in the postseason, both setbacks coming against Chapman. The Panthers, who are 40-12 this year, advance on in the College World Series and will have to defeat No. 23 UMass Boston twice to advance through bracket one.
Finding themselves down after the first inning, the Presidents rallied to take a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Joey Bolick (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) began the push by drawing a walk. Bolick then scored two batters later on an RBI single from Justin Griffin (Lombard, Ill./Glenbard East).
W&J added two more runs on a two-out triple by Mullen Socha (Independence, Ohio/St. Ignatius). With Griffin on second and Dante Dalesandro (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) on first after a walk, Socha unloaded on a 2-2 pitch, sending it over the right fielder's head. The hit was the 72nd of the season for Socha, which is the fourth most in a single-season in program history.
Over the next two innings, the Panthers retook the lead by taking advantage of a tight strike zone. Chapman plated one in the third and two in the fourth on three hits with two walks.
The Red & Black battled back in the bottom of the fourth, bringing one across to tie the game at 4-4. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Presidents were primed to score some runs. Following a pitching change, Josh Crummer (Great Falls, Va./Flint Hill School) singled to plate Shayne Erny (North Ridgeville, Ohio/St. Edward).
Unfortunately for the Presidents, a double-play liner to second base halted the rally. Despite loading the bases again, W&J settled for one run in the inning.
The game was decided in the top of the sixth inning, as Chapman took a 6-4 lead in the frame. With two outs and the lone base runner getting on after an error, three straight singles broke the tie to give the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.
W&J was unable to put pressure on Chapman after the fifth, as the Presidents had one base runner in the final five frames. The Panthers scored two more runs in the top of the ninth to secure an 8-4 victory.
The Presidents ended the day with five hits, all by different batters. Socha and Adam Moore (Olean, N.Y./Archbishop Walsh) both finished with extra-base hits. Socha also ended the day with a game-high tying two RBIs, giving him 51 in 51 games played. The 51 RBI ranks as the fifth most in a single-season in program history.
On the pitching mound, Jansen Eichenlaub (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) made his first career start and allowed two runs (one earned) in 2.0 innings of work. Eichenlaub struck out three, walked three and did not allow a hit.
Out of the bullpen, Michael Zito (Nashville, Tenn./Hume-Fogg) suffered the loss by allowing two unearned runs over 2.0 innings of work. Seniors Garrett Harstine (New Philadelphia, Ohio/New Philadelphia), Clay Martin (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) and Mitchell Taufer (Washington, Pa./Bishop Canevin) all appeared in relief. Taufer tossed a team-high 2.1 innings without allowing a run, to go along with two strikeouts.
Today's game brings an end to a highly successful career for the W&J seniors. The 15-man class compiled an overall record of 134 wins, 59 losses and one tie. Where the group shined the most was in the postseason, as the seniors compiled a 26-10 record in the postseason. The W&J senior class recorded two NCAA Division III College World Series appearances, two NCAA Division III Regional Championships and a pair of Presidents' Athletic Conference Tournament Championships.