May 25, 2009

Courtesy of Wooster

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - The College of Wooster batted around the order each of the first two innings and Matthew Pierce (Oklahoma City, Okla. / Casady School) highlighted a three-run third with a blast over the left-field fence, as the Fighting Scots built an early 10-2 lead and went on to a 11-7 victory over Chapman University in a Memorial Day match-up during the NCAA Div. III Baseball Championship finals at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

The eight-team field is now down to two, with Wooster (43-9) playing for the national championship versus the University of St. Thomas (39-13) on Tuesday, beginning at 11 a.m. Central Standard Time. The Scots hold the upper hand as they have not lost a game during the double-elimination tournament, which means St. Thomas would have to beat them twice to take the national title.

Monday afternoon saw Wooster stake out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first, taking advantage of an error to score two unearned runs. First, Sean Karpen (Venetia, Pa. / Peters Twp.) opened with a base knock to centerfield, was moved over to second via Luke Sutton's (Galion, Ohio / Galion) sacrifice bunt, and later, came home on a two-out single to right by Matt Groezinger (Columbus, Ohio / Upper Arlington). Then, a throwing miscue by the shortstop extended the inning, loading the bases for the Scots, and Michael DeBord (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio / Woodridge) poked a two-run bloop single the opposite way (right field).

Chapman (32-17) got right back in the game with a two-run bottom of the first, only to see Wooster send nine batters to the plate again in the second. Karpen led it off with a double deep to left-center and then another apparent sacrifice attempt by Sutton turned into a bunt single. Next, Beath brought them both home on an opposite-field double - his team-leading 22nd of the season - into the gap in left-center to make it 5-2. A walk and hit by pitch ensued to load the bases, and Zack Vesco (Pickerington, Ohio / St. Charles Prep) delivered an RBI single to right, still without an out recorded. The Scots would add one more during the frame on a fielder's choice play for a 7-2 cushion.

Wooster starter Anthony Trapuzzano (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Canevin Catholic) worked out of a second-inning jam, inducing a foul out and striking out the No. 2 hitter after runners had reached second and third with one out.

Karpen again led off the third, this time earning a walk. He stole second base and would score on a Sutton single and error by the left fielder. It looked like the Panthers would avoid further damage, striking out the next two, but then Pierce drove a shot well over the double-tiered billboards in left for a two-run homer, marking his sixth of the year and putting the Scots on top by eight (10-2).

Chapman plated one in the third, but also was unable to score any more, despite having runners on second and third with one out again. Matt Groezinger

Matt Groezinger made this running over-the-shoulder catch of a foul ball down the first base line with his back to home plate.

The teams exchanged single runs in the fourth, with Wooster's being of the unearned variety when Sutton hit a sacrifice fly to bring in DeBord, who had reached on an error.

During the home half of the fourth, the Panthers scored once, but were once again unable to put together a big inning. Relief pitcher Tanner Hall (Oil City, Pa. / Oil City) entered, and after giving up a leadoff single, which put two men on the base paths with no outs, stranded the two runners.

Hall proceeded to work scoreless innings in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth en route to earning the win (3-1), before Chapman rallied for three runs during the bottom of the ninth. Overall, the Panthers managed just three hits off of Hall over his 5.0 shutout innings.

At the plate, Karpen reached five times in six appearances by going 2-for-3 with three walks. His second hit was the 94th of the season, tying the school record with Travis Snyder (1997). Sutton was equally difficult on the Chapman pitcher, putting up a perfect 3-for-3 outing to go with a walk and the two sacrifices. Shane Swearingen (Hilliard, Ohio / Bishop Watterson) also contributed a multi-hit game (2-for-4) and DeBord delivered a team-high three RBI.