Bernard's run in 13th inning sends Southern Maine past Ithaca in finals
APPLETON, Wis. -- Junior Chris Bernard delivered the game-winning run with a triple in the top of the 13th inning as Southern Maine defeated Ithaca 5-4 in an elimination game of the 2013 NCAA Division III National Championship finals being played at Fox Cities Stadium.
The win propelled Southern Maine (46-9, 4-1 in the tournament) into the national title game against Linfield. Ithaca, which beat Linfield 6-4 Monday night to stay alive in the tournament, finished the tournament 3-2 and the season at 41-8.
Junior Forrest Chadwick opened the 13th inning with a double down the right field line. After a ground out, Bernard blasted the first pitch he saw from sophomore Jimmy Wagner over the left-field wall for an apparent two-run homer. Bernard was called out on appeal for missing home plate, leaving the Huskies with just a one-run margin.
Ithaca loaded the bases in the home half of the inning on a leadoff infield hit by sophomore Christian Brown, an infield error and a one-out single through the right side by junior Colby Gee.
USM sophomore right-hander Andrew Richards, who came on in relief of freshman starter Shyler Scates in the second inning, got the second out with a strikeout. Richards then induced a fly ball to right field by sophomore Max Addy for the final out. Richards threw 152 pitches, 102 for strikes, to earn his 11th win of the season against two losses. He gave up two runs on 12 hits and four walks while fanning two. With 12 innings pitched, Richards set a school record for innings pitched (100.2) with a game to play.
The Bombers took a 2-0 lead scoring single runs in the first and second innings. Brown led off the game with a single against Scates, and junior Tim Locastro drove home Brown with a double to left-center field. Scates escaped further damage in the inning as junior Chadwick threw out Locastro at the plate trying to score on Gee's single to center field.
Ithaca picked up its second run in the next inning when sophomore Matt Connolly singled and moved to third on a single by junior Luke Stark that ended Scates day. Senior Andrew Turner lifted a sacrifice fly to right field off Richards to score Connolly.
USM equalized with a pair of runs in its half of the third inning. Junior Troy Thibodeau doubled to lead off the frame, moved to third on a ground out and scored on freshman Sam Dexter's sacrifice fly to right field. The Huskies strung together three consecutive singles by junior John Carey, senior Tucker White and Chadwick to get their second run.
The Bombers reclaimed the lead in the fourth as Connolly drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on a double to center field by Stark.
The Huskies threatened in the eighth with two outs. White singled up the middle and moved to second on a balk by sophomore John Pendergast. Chadwick was intentionally passed before senior Nick Grady's drive into right center was tracked down by Brown.
Southern Maine took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth when junior Matt Verrier scored on a two-out single by Dexter.
The Huskies were a strike away from moving to the championship game, but Strak dropped his fourth hit of the day into right field scoring senior Corey Caswell from second base just ahead of Thibodeau's throw.
Southern Maine tried to capture some two-out lightning in the 11th inning as Verrier and Thibodeau stroked singles. Senior Anthony Pisani hit a single to right field, but Brown gunned down Verrier trying to score for the final out.
White and Thibodeau led the Huskies' 15-hit attack with three hits each. Stark and Gee had four hits apiece, and Caswell and Brown had three, for the Bombers. Wagner pitched the final five innings allowing two runs on eight hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out two. It was the first loss of the season for Wagner after eight victories.