No one gave Winona State a chance. At least no one outside the Winona State dugout or the fans who made the trip from Minnesota to watch their team play in the NCAA Division II Championship against No. 2 Mount Olive.
But here are the Warriors, reveling in the thrill of a dominating 9-3 win against the mighty Trojans Monday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
You see, the Warriors, unranked nationally, were up against Mount Olive star Carter Capps, who had won the 24 games in his career, including 14 this season, and had no losses on his career record.
Yet, the hype and the fact that Capps most certainly has a future at the next level did not faze the Warriors, who scored six runs off of him in the first three innings en route to the win.
“I don’t know if anyone really gave us a chance with all of the press (Capps) has gotten,” Winona State head coach Kyle Poock said. “We just kept telling our guys that we are in a great place. We are playing baseball, it’s beautiful weather, and let’s go out and have some fun.”
The ride so far here in North Carolina has been a blast for the Warriors (41-17), who rocked Capps for eight runs on 10 hits. Six of those runs were earned and Capps struck out three while only walking two in 4 1/3 innings of work.
John Magee delivered one of the biggest blows of the game. He blasted a two-run shot in the fifth sent Capps out of the game and all but ended any hope the Trojans (46-9) had to rally for a win.
Magee admitted he was a little surprised by the home run.
“I guess it was a good at-bat,” Magee said. “He came inside and I dropped my barrel of the bat on down and was lucky to see it flying over the fence.”
The Warriors had a hit parade in their win. Kyle Sill and Tony Mueller cranked out three hits apiece while Magee and Cody Strang finished with two hits apiece. Magee drove in three runs and Strang knocked in two runs.
Kodey Simon nailed down the win for Winona State. He worked seven innings and gave up three runs on nine hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Jason Simone finished with three hits Ryan Faison came through with two hits and drove in two runs.
Winona State won’t play again until Thursday while Mount Olive will have to battle Millersville in an elimination game on Wednesday.