MANSFIELD, Conn. — Wheaton (Mass.) advanced to the NCAA Championship for the second time in program history and first since 2006 with a 2-0 win against Western New England on Sunday afternoon.
Senior Dan Haugh and freshman Apolinar De la Cruz drove in runs in the first inning while junior Frank Holbrook — pitching on three days rest — tossed seven shutout innings to earn his program-record ninth win of the season. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five and was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
The Lyons (38-9) will face Webster — which won the Central Region — on Friday, May 25. Earlier this season, the Lyons defeated the Gorloks 1-0 in Auburndale, Florida.
Western New England, who was making its seventh-consecutive berth in the NCAA tournament, finishes its regional run at 38-13. After falling to the Lyons on Thursday evening, the Golden Bears won four-games in a 48-hour period and forced the if-necessary game on Saturday.
The Lyons scored their two runs in the opening frame and never looked back. Senior Hal Landers and junior Eric Jensen opened the game with back-to-back singles and moved into scoring position on a sac bunt by junior Sean Ryan. Haugh and De la Cruz followed with singles through the left and right side, respectively, to plate the only two runs of the game.
Holbrook took over from there and has surrendered just one run in his last 28 innings of work. The only runner that reached second base was junior Kyle McKelvey in the eighth inning. Sophomore Ryan Grant relived Holbrook in the eighth and recorded the final six outs to tally his 12th stop of the year.
Western New England senior starter Mark DiTommaso settled down after a shaky first inning and retired 15 of the next 18 batters from the second through the sixth inning. He stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the third and fourth frames.
In the bottom eighth, Wheaton loaded the bases with one out on an intentional pass to Haugh, but senior Mike Lawlor fanned his next batter and then registered a fly out to end the threat.
In the top of the ninth, the lone batter that reached was junior Tim Clark (West Springfield, Mass.) on an infield miscue with two outs, but he was stranded when Grant induced a ground-out to end the contest.