Graham tosses eight shutout innings to lead Franklin Pierce past Shippensburg
CARY, N.C. -- Trevor Graham tossed eight shutout innings and Justin Brock drove in the game’s only run with an RBI single in the eighth inning as nationally 11th-ranked Franklin Pierce edged No. 17 Shippensburg 1-0 in the opening game of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Saturday at Cary, N.C.
With the victory, Franklin Pierce (37-17) advances to a winner’s bracket contest on Monday. The loss forces Shippensburg (32-22) into an elimination game on Monday as well.
Shippensburg starting pitcher Pat Kregeloh (9-5) held the Ravens to just two hits in the game, at one point retiring 14 straight batters between a first-inning single and a walk to lead off the seventh. Kregeloh, a Daktronics NCAA Division II Second Team All-American as a utility player, worked his way out of a jam in the seventh, but another walk to John Razzino with one out in the eighth proved more costly.
Razzino moved to second on a groundout by Matthew O’Herron, bringing up the No. 9 hitter in the order, Justin Brock. The freshman drove a 1-1 offering from Kregeloh into left field, and Rizzino scored well ahead of the throw home with the go-ahead run.
Ravens reliever Joe Flynn took over for Graham in the ninth, and put the tying run on base with a hit by pitch, but retired the next two batters in order to close out the win with his fifth save of the year.
Shippensburg had chances earlier in the game against Graham, too, particularly in the fifth inning, when the Raiders loaded the bases with no one out. Cody Kulp led off the frame with a single to left-center, Jimmy Spanos followed with a single through the left side, and Dan Wimer drew a walk to fill the bases.
At that point, however, Graham (10-2) showed why he is a finalist for the Tino Martinez Division II Player of the Year. The junior right-hander got a lineout to second, a strikeout and a foul out to first to get out of the inning unscathed.
He avoided one more threat in the eighth when Tyler Shover and Kregeloh produced back-to-back two-out singles, but Graham induced a fly ball to right from Simon Beloff to end the inning. In eight innings, Graham scattered seven hits, walked three and struck out nine while lowering his season ERA to 1.63.
With his work on Saturday, Graham has now tossed 19 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to the fifth inning of a May 7 contest against Merrimack in the first round of the Northeast-10 Championship.
Franklin Pierce, the East Region champion, is playing in its sixth National Finals and first since 2010. Shippensburg, the Atlantic Region champion, is making its fifth appearance at the National Finals and first since 2008.