Bullpen helps Chapman get past Kean
Levitt comes to rescue leads Chapman into winners’ bracket
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Thanks to three runs in the sixth inning and three runs again in the eighth inning, Chapman defeated Kean 9-4 in the opener of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championships at Fox Cities Stadium on Friday.
The Panthers advance to the winners' bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will face Marietta at 6:30 p.m. ET after the top-ranked Pioneers defeated Salisbury 8-0 on Friday afternoon.
Chapman (34-11) scored nine runs on nine hits, all in support of gutsy bullpen performances from junior LHP Ben Levitt and sophomore RHP Kevin Osaki. The two were called upon in an emergency when the Panthers' ace RHP Brian Rauh left the game after 3 1/3 innings due to an arm injury.
Levitt earned his second win of the season, pitching 3 2/3 innings and allowing just two earned runs while striking out three. The junior entered the game with one out in the fourth in a 2-2 tie and immediately surrendered a double and RBI single before settling down to get out of the inning. The lefty then pitched out of trouble in the fifth and seventh innings, allowing just a sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, the Panthers rallied for three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead for good. Sophomore IF Tyler Surnbrock singled in a run to tie the game at three. One batter later, junior DH Steve Greenberg came through with a two-run base hit to center.
Chapman led 6-3 in the eighth before scoring three more in the top half of the frame. Consecutive hits by freshman OF Adam Velez (RBI double), freshman IF Mark Saatzer and finally a two-run double by senior IF Tyler Hadzinsky gave the Panthers a commanding 9-3 lead. Hadzinsky finished 3-for-5 with two runs and two stolen bases.
Osaki pitched two hitless innings in the eighth and ninth to close the door and give Chapman its sixth consecutive win.
The Panthers' offense was spread throughout the lineup as each starter reached base at least once and all but senior C Adam Kordich scored a run. Besides reaching base twice, Kordich halted the Cougars' running game by throwing out three would-be basestealers.
Rauh, Chapman's All-American starter, had his 23 scoreless inning streak snapped with two outs in the first inning when he allowed a solo homer to Kean IF Lee Cavico – his ninth of the year. The sophomore righty allowed just two hits and struck out one before leaving the game.
The win marked the second time this season Chapman has defeated the Cougars (42-10), having done so at home in March. The No. 9-ranked Panthers are now 9-5 all-time in the cross-country rivalry against No. 3 Kean, including a 3-2 edge in the postseason.
Chapman improved to 6-1 in its last seven championship tournament openers.