May 24, 2009

Courtesy of Chapman Athletics

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - John Semel may not know how to start games, but he sure knows how to finish them.

Semel threw three innings of scoreless relief to preserve a 7-5 victory over Kean University in Sunday afternoon's elimination game at the NCAA Division III baseball championships at Fox Cities Stadium.

Kean (39-11) started the ninth with back-to-back singles and attempted to bunt the runners into scoring position. Semel fired the bunt to a stretching third baseman Tristan Phillips to stop momentum in its tracks. A strikeout and ground ball later had the Panthers advancing to the fourth round of the tournament for the first time since 2006.

The Panthers jumped ahead in the second inning thanks to a clutch two-out RBI double by junior C Joe Lehman. The Panthers continued their two out barrage pushing across runs in the fourth on double steal throwing error and in the fifth courtesy of a IF Patrick Ohail RBI single.

The Cougars was held in check for the first four innings before taking a short-lived 4-3 lead in the fifth. Kean plated four runs on four singles with one out before IF Tyler Hadzinsky made an over-the-shoulder circus catch. The bobbling catch confused third base runner IF Matt Diaz, who was ruled out for leaving early on the appeal.

Chapman (32-16) responded with a crooked number of their own in the sixth. Down by one, IF Halston Barcelo walked to lead off the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Hadzinsky allowed Lehman to single home Barcelo, good for a tie game and for his second RBI of the day. Later in the sixth, OF Ryan Prechtl's two out, two-run homer gave his team a 6-4 lead, which they would never relinquish.

Lehman, Semel, and Hadzinsky all finished the game with three hits going a combined 9-for-10. Lehman collected enough RBIs (3) for the three of them to split.

Chapman will face the winner of Carthage College (37-8) and Shenandoah University (38-9) at 10:00 a.m. PST tomorrow in their third elimination game of the weekend.