May 26, 2009

Courtesy of Mount Olive College

CARY, N.C. - Chad Crowe's eighth-inning rbi-single broke a 5-5 tie and reliever Tommy Kahnie retired eight of the final nine batters he faced as nationally fifth-ranked Lynn remained unbeaten with a 6-5 victory over No. 21 Dowling in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Tuesday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Dowling rallied from a 5-2 deficit with three runs in the top of the sixth, but a bizarre play eliminated a potential tying baserunner in the top of the ninth.

Lynn advances to the winners' bracket final Thursday at 7 p.m. Dowling takes on UC San Diego Wednesday at 7 p.m. in an elimination game.

Lynn (44-16) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Daniel Flores tripled in the first run and came home on Gabe MacDougall's single. The runs ended Dowling's streak of 28 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

A balk and two throwing errors led to a pair of unearned runs for Lynn in the bottom of the second. Kyle Holloway reached on an error, Chad Crowe drew a one-out walk and both runners advanced on a balk. Holloway looked to get caught in a rundown on a ground ball to third, but scored when the throw to the plate bounced in the dirt. Einar Atencio drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to extend the Fighting Knights' lead to 4-0.

Dowling (35-17) used four consecutive two-out singles to get on the scoreboard in the top of the third. Eddie Squeri lined a single off the glove of Lynn shortstop Crowe and David Wendt followed with a single to left-center. Squeri came home on Daniel Pembroke's single to center for the Golden Lions' first run. Matthew Monastero singled through the left side and Wendt tried to score, but MacDougall threw a strike from left field to prevent the run and end the inning.

Dowling took advantage of a Lynn miscue in the top of the fourth as Erik Cabrera reached on an error with one out, then came home on Ralph Tufano's two-out rbi-double to pull the Golden Lions within 4-2.

Lynn loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth, but came away with only one run. After Holloway led off with a single to center, Jason Ten Eyck and Crowe both reached on bunt singles. Douglas Toro followed with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-2 game. But Dowling pitcher Nicholas Albero fielded a hot bouncer and ignited a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning.

After Albero walked the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth, Buddy Cipoletti took over on the mound. Cipoletti, who was named Most Outstanding Player in the East Regional, retired the side on a pop out, strikeout and fly out.

Dowling trailed by three runs despite outhitting Lynn 9-5 through five innings. But the Golden Lions would even the score in the sixth.

Cabrera doubled with one out and advanced to third on Joel Duverge's single. Lynn reliever Evan Ellison came in for Justin Figart, who started the fifth inning in place of starter Kevin Rickert. Tufano drew a walk to load the bases and Kahnie replaced Ellison on the mound.

Kahnie got a strikeout for the second out, but Squeri drew a walk on a full count to pull Dowling within 5-3. The next batter Wendt sent the first pitch to right field for a two-run single as the Golden Lions tied the game.

The contest turned into a late-inning pitcher's duel between Kahnie (7-4) and Cipoletti (3-4). Cipoletti got an inning-ending double play ball in the sixth and withstood MacDougall's one-out double in the seventh with a strikeout and a groundout.

Kahnie struck out the side in the seventh - all swinging - and opened a 1-2-3 eighth inning with a strikeout. Kahnie recorded 11 outs in 3 2/3 innings, five by strikeout.

Holloway led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to left and advanced to second on Ten Eyck's sacrifice. Crowe singled through the left side to bring home Holloway with the go-ahead run. Crowe, the No. 9 batter in the lineup, was 3-for-3 with a walk.

In the top of the ninth, Wendt drew a one-out walk and ball four got past Lynn catcher Holloway. When Holloway was unable to locate the ball, Wendt tried for two. But Holloway recovered and threw Holloway out at second to empty the bases. Kahnie closed out the game with a groundout to short.

Lynn, which is in Bracket Two, will face the Bracket One losers' bracket survivor in Thursday's contest. The Fighting Knights are one win away from advancing to the national championship game for the first time in school history.

Dowling's game against UC San Diego is a rematch of Sunday's first round contest. Dowling defeated UC San Diego 3-1. The winner of that game advances to play Emporia State Thursday.