May 24, 2009

Courtesy of Carthage Athletics

The Carthage College baseball team (38-8, 18-1 College Conference of Illinois And Wisconsin), ranked fourth in the May 19 American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III poll and seventh in the May 5 "D3baseball.com" poll, advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship on Sunday, May 24 by getting by No. 6 Shenandoah University (38-10), 9-8 in 11 innings, at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wis. The Carthage win eliminated Shenandoah from the championship. In Sunday's first game, No. 9 Chapman University (32-16) eliminated Kean University (39-11), 7-5, with the two undefeated teams, No. 3 the College of Wooster (41-9) and No. 5 the University of St. Thomas (Minn., 38-12), playing each other at 7 p.m. On Memorial Day, Carthage will play St. Thomas (Minn.) in a semifinal game to begin at Noon if the Tommies lose to Wooster, or at 3:30 p.m. if St. Thomas defeats Wooster.

On Saturday, May 23, Carthage knocked off defending-national-champion and No. 1 Trinity College (Conn., 33-7), 10-1, to eliminate the Bantams from the tournament. In the other three Saturday games, Chapman (31-16) eliminated Farmingdale State College (30-17), 4-2; Wooster (41-9) routed Kean (39-10), 14-1, in the first winner's bracket game; and St. Thomas (Minn., 38-12) pounded Shenandoah (38-9), 16-5, in the other winner's bracket contest. Carthage lost to Wooster (40-9), 8-1, on Friday, May 22 in a first-round game, while Trinity (Conn.) lost its first-round game to Kean (39-9), 8-5. In the other two other first-round games on Friday, Shenandoah (38-8) pounded No. 12 Farmingdale State (30-16), 12-2, with St. Thomas (Minn., 37-12) upending Chapman (30-16), 9-1.

On a dazzling, sun-splashed day in Grand Chute, Wis., Carthage jumped out to a 2-0 in the first inning over Shenandoah. The Red Men loaded the bases on walks to Chris Shannon and Mike Hughes, sandwiched around a John Lequia double. Drew Roberts followed with a two-run single past first base. An RBI-double by the Hornets' Greg Van Sickler in the bottom of the first cut the Carthage lead to 2-1. Shannon singled up the middle in the second to drive in a run for a 3-1 edge. John Lequia followed with a three-run home run down the rightfield line and a 6-1 lead.

Carthage freshman pitcher Eric Rohe was cruising along with a one-hitter until the Red Men defense collapsed in the fifth inning. The Hornets scored four runs on three hits and four Carthage errors to pull to within a run, 6-5. Adam Delauter reached base on a throwing error by second baseman Tyler Eickmeyer, and Jon Holcomb reached on a fielding error by shortstop Joe Ferro. Kevin Brashears singled in Delauter. Holcomb scored and Brashears moved up on failed pickoff attempt at first base by Red Men catcher Mike Hughes. Scott Lambert reached on a fielding error by third baseman Drew Roberts, allowing Brashears to score. Jesse Henry grounded out to first, and with no one calling time after the play, Lambert advanced to third base. Van Sickler singled up the middle to score Lambert with the fourth unearned run in the inning.

Carthage made it 8-5 in the sixth. Will Hodges walked to open the inning. Eickmeyer singled Hodges to second, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Trevor Whately reached on a fielder's choice, with Hodges cut down at the plate. Shannon followed with a single up the middle to score Eickmeyer. Lequia then hit a single through the left side to score Whately. Shenandoah put its first two batters on base to open the seventh, with Brashears walking and Lambert singling to left. Carthage coach Augie Schmidt IV summoned Scott Danly from the bullpen to relieve Rohe. A sacrifice bunt moved the two Hornet runners to second and third, and Van Sickler singled to center, scoring Brashears. Scott Van Dusseldorp reached on a fielder's choice, allowing Lambert to score, and it was an 8-7 game.

Danly gave way to Mike Maher with two on and two out in the eighth. Lambert greeted Maher with an RBI-single to right-center field to score Delauter with tying run at 8-8. The Red Men had runners on first and second with one out in the top of the ninth, but Tim Hansen hit into an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the ninth, Van Sickler led off with a single to left. Van Dusseldorp tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but he popped it up. Maher charged off the mound, caught the ball and doubled Van Sickler off at first base for a double play. Cory Nelson flied out to send the game into extra innings.

Carthage had two runners on again in the 10th but another Hornets double play killed the threat. In the Carthage 11th, just after Lequia nearly missed hitting his second home run of the game, Mike Hughes launched a solo homer to left-center field, giving Carthage a 9-8 lead. In the Shenandoah 11th, with Maher still on the hill, Brashears led off the soft single to rightfield and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Jesse Henry grounded out to shortstop, with Brashears moving up to third. Van Sickler flew out to center for the final out. Maher (3-0) picked up the win by blanking the Hornets on three hits over the final three and one-third innings. Gage Levac (4-4), in relief of Matthew Davis, took the loss. John Lequia went three-for-five with a double, a home run and four RBI, and Drew Roberts went two-for-five with two RBI. With a single in the sixth, Tyler Eickmeyer extended his hitting streak to 24 games. Eickmeyer's streak is the third-longest in Red Men history, trailing only Glen Braun (26 games in 1999) and Justin Hallock (25 games in 2001).