CARY, N.C. — Senior Josh Heyne’s walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Dylan Zigman from third, sending West Chester to the national championship game with a 2-1 victory against Catawba at the 2012 NCAA tournament on Thursday evening.
West Chester (45-10) stamps its ticket into the title game for the first time in school history while Catawba (45-17) ends its playoff run tying the school record for most victories in a season. The Golden Rams will await the winner of the Delta State vs. Minnesota-Mankato contest, which will be played Friday morning at 11 a.m.
With the win, West Chester runs its current winning streak to 11 games.
“We have played some very good, clean games,” WCU head coach Jad Prachniak said. “That is what it takes to win in the postseason. We recognize that it is challenging to do what we have done. Hopefully, we have one more in us.”
Junior Justin Lamborn started the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff double to center field. Matt Baer then reached on a bunt single, moving Lamborn to third. Baer popped up his bunt attempt down the third base line. However, Catawba pitcher Nick Lomascolo could not come up with the diving catch, and everybody was safe.
Zigman then pinch ran for Lamborn at third base, before Catawba made a defensive switch in the outfield and brought in reliever John Tuttle to pitch for Lomascolo after the lefty ace intentionally walked Matt Kirchner to load the bases with nobody out.
Heyne then hit the second offering from Tuttle deep to left field to bring home Zigman with the winning run.
Sophomore right-hander Fred Breidenbach (9-2) tossed a complete-game, six-hitter, walking two and striking out six. Catawba lefty Lamoscolo (10-5), pitching on three days rest, surrendered two runs on six hits, walked three and struck out four. He threw 115 pitches, after throwing 122 pitches just three days ago in a win over Indianapolis in the first game of the College World Series for the Indians.
“(Lamoscolo) pitched a great game, I think everybody saw,” said Catawba head coach Jim Gantt. “Not being able to drive in runs was the difference.”
Catawba drew first blood in the top of the fourth on a safety squeeze from Greg Lawson. Julio Zubillaga walked with one out. Brett Underwood then singled, moving Zubillaga to third, and Lawson bunted down the first base line for a base hit, scoring Zubillaga.
West Chester tied the score in the bottom half of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Joe Wendle. Leadoff hitter, Mike Raimo, started things with a double to right-center. Jack Provine then bunted him over to third where Wendle’s deep flyball to left-center was more than enough to get Raimo home.
Raimo finished 2-for-4 at the plate with a pair of doubles.