Millersville makes way to Finals
Marauders cruise to first regional championship since 1998
Lancaster, Pa. -- Millersville played a near perfect game in the field and at the plate Monday at Clipper Magazine Stadium. With 14 runs on 20 hits and a handful of spectacular defensive plays, the Marauders rolled to its first NCAA Atlantic Regional Championship since 1998 with a 14-3 win against Mercyhurst.
The Marauders (43-10) could not have picked a more perfect moment to play perhaps their most complete game of the season. Senior Derek Kline starred on the mound and at the plate. He improved to 7-2 on the season after allowing three runs in six innings. The Millersville career leader in hits, doubles and RBIs helped his own cause by going 3-for-6 with two doubles and three RBIs.
Along with Kline, Zach Stone, Mike August and Mike Perez each had three hits. Perez, who entered the NCAA regional with six hits in 10 regular season appearances, went 6-for-13 with six RBIs in the regional. On Monday, he singled, doubled off the right field wall and hit a monstrous home run to left field. He drove in a total of three runs to match Kline for game-high honors. Nine different players drove in at least one run and had at least one hit.
Millersville, which hosted the regional, gave the sizeable hometown crowd plenty of reason to cheer and plenty of run support for its senior pitcher. The onslaught started in the second inning when Mike August singled and Corey Phelan doubled him in, putting Millersville on the board. The Marauders went on to score five runs on six hits in the frame.
Perez's homer came in the third inning, building Millersville's lead to 6-0. In the fifth, Mercyhurst put up two runs and was threatening to score more. With runners on first and second and one out, Kevin McCall hit a deep fly ball to right field. Both Mercyhurst runners tagged up, but Zak Blair, trying to go from first to second, was cut down by a perfectly executed relay from Chris Edgar to Ryan McCormick to August.
The double play ended in the inning, and Mercyhurst's last chance seriously challenged the Marauders. In the top of the next inning, Millersville erupted for seven runs on six hits, putting the game well out of reach.
Freshman Tad Barton came on in the seventh and pitched a pair of hitless, scoreless innings. Senior closer Zach Eckley posted a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, and the final out was made when Phelan snared a line drive just before crashing hard into the right field wall.
In the four regional wins, Millersville's bullpen did not allow a single run in 9.2 innings of work. The starting staff surrendered only 10 in 26 innings.
Assisting the pitching staff was the glove work of sophomore center fielder Jeff Heisey. Heisey made two diving grabs, both of which likely saved runs. He also went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI. Phelan added two hits and two RBIs as well, giving him six hits and four RBIs in four regional games.
In the regional, Millersville hit .336 as a team, hit 16 doubles and had 28 RBIs on 30 runs. Defensively, it committed just one error in 108 chances.
With the win, Millersville advances to play Southeast Region Champ Mount Olive Saturday at 5 p.m. in Cary, N.C. Mount Olive is also the host institution for the tournament. Millersville will be the home team for the first game of the championship.