APPLETON, Wis. – Sophomore Alec Palioca tossed 7.1 innings of one-run ball to propel Wheaton (Mass.) to its first Division III Championship win since 2006, a 3-2 triumph against Webster Friday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
Junior Sean Ryan and freshman Apolinar De la Cruz each drove in first-inning runs for the Lyons (39-9), who advance in the winner’s bracket and will play at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday against the winner of Kean-Cortland State contest. With the win, Wheaton improves to 5-2 all-time in the College World Series and 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament this spring.
Senior Hal Landers and junior Eric Jensen opened the first with back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Ryan grounded out to first to bring in Landers for a 1-0 lead, and De la Cruz laced a single to right two batters later to plate Jensen from second.
The Gorloks cut their deficit in half in the third as junior Cody Stevenson tripled to left-center field and scored on an RBI single to center by classmate Taylor Stoulp. Wheaton got the run back in the fourth as a pickoff attempt at second base with the bases loaded went into center field, allowing junior Dan Gusovsky to score from third.
Webster touched up sophomore closer Ryan Grant for a run in the ninth on an RBI single by sophomore Kevin Kojs before recording the third out for his 13th save of the season.
Palioca, meanwhile, allowed eight hits and one run with no walks and eight strikeouts to record his program-record ninth win of the season. He is tied with junior teammate Frank Holbrook, who picked up his ninth win of 2012 in the Lyons 2-0 win against Western New England in the New England Regional Championship on Sunday.
Senior David Mueller started on the bump for the Gorloks (35-13) and allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) in seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven to fall to 8-3 on the season).
Landers finished the afternoon with two hits while Kojs went 3-for-4 for Webster, which places in the 11 a.m. ET game on Saturday against the loser of the Kean-Cortland State contest.