May 27, 2010

Harold Gutmann
Special to NCAA.com

CARY, N.C. - Georgia College righty Martin Dewald is used to closing games out. A closer on the German national team, the senior set a school record with 14 saves and won honorable mention all-America honors last season.

Dewald is still ending games, but now he starts them as well.

Dewald threw his fourth shutout and ninth complete game - and second in two starts at the NCAA Division II baseball championships - and teammate Sean Harrell stole home as the fourth-ranked Bobcats defeated Southern Indiana 3-0 to get within one game of the final.

Dewald pitched a five-hitter, striking out eight and walking three against the Screaming Eagles (50-14), who had scored a tournament-high 15 runs in their first two games.

"Martin can pitch, and if you can pitch it doesn't matter where we put you," said coach Tom Carty, who moved Dewald early in the season to improve the rotation. "He was up to the challenge."

Dewald threw 137 pitches, four days after tossing 138 pitches in a complete game-effort against No. 1 UC San Diego. The Bobcats (42-16) lost that game 3-2 on a walkoff hit in the ninth, but have now won three games in a row to extend their season.

Because Southern Indiana won its first two games in the double-elimination tournament, there will be a rematch Friday morning to determine which team makes it to Saturday's championship game.

Dewald, who spent his entire childhood in Germany and came to the U.S. to play college baseball, improved to 12-3 with a 3.24 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 121 1/3 innings.

"I try to close all nine innings, so it's not really that much of a difference," Dewald said of his new role. "I go inning by inning. I don't try to save anything."

Dewald's fellow All-America, centerfielder Sean Harrell, created the Bobcats' first two runs. In the first inning he tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Steve Muoio, and then he showed off even more speed in the fourth. After getting hit by a pitch, the redshirt senior stole second, stole third, and then stole home after Shawn Ward was picked off first and got caught in a rundown.

"It's kind of an instinct play," said Harrell, who said he hadn't stolen home since Little League. "As soon as that ball gets to a fielder at an awkward angle, that's when you're supposed to go. You try not to slide too many times head first into home plate, but I think that was a point where you can do it."

In fact, Georgia College stole five bases and was hit by three pitches in the fifth inning alone, but couldn't blow the game open. The Bobcats left the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings, had a runner thrown out in the fourth and wasted two fielding errors by the Eagles in the sixth.

But Georgia College did get another insurance run thanks to third baseman Paul Bordon, who was batting just .255 in 55 at bats and was making his first start in the championships. The senior jumped on a fastball and doubled down the left line to score Jason Veyna in the fourth inning.

Of Southern Indiana's top five pitchers, two were suspended, one was injured and two had been used earlier in the tournament. So the Eagles gave Jared Canterbury (4-1) his third start, but surprisingly it wasn't pitching that was the problem - it was the normally-reliable offense that Dewald kept off balance with constant off-speed pitches

"First time we've seen a guy where pretty much everything was curveball, curveball, curveball, slider, slider," leadoff hitter Wandy Rosario said.

Southern Indiana's best opportunity came in the third inning, but Michael Huling struck out with a runner on third and one out, and cleanup hitter Caleb Ehmke hit a comebacker to Dewald with the bases loaded.

Dewald retired the next 12 batters and didn't allow a hit until Dylan Mooney led off the ninth with a single. Justin Blinn also singled, but defensive replacement Brett George made a great play on Wes Fink's slow roller to third to end the game.

"I think that's baseball, that happens over the course of a season a few times," Mooney said. "Luckily for us they have to beat us twice and we don't have games like that twice in a row very often, if ever. So I think tomorrow will be a different story."

Note: Friday's if-needed game has been moved to the morning because of the threat of rain. The time will depend on the results from Thursday night's second semifinal between UC San Diego and Franklin Pierce. If Franklin Pierce wins, the Southern Indiana-Georgia College rematch will be at 10 a.m. If UC San Diego wins, it will be at 11 a.m.