May 25, 2009

Courtesy of Carthage Athletics

The Carthage College baseball team (38-9, 18-1 College Conference of Illinois And Wisconsin), ranked fourth in the May 19 American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III poll and seventh in the May 5 "" poll, was eliminated from the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship on Monday, May 25 by No. 5 the University of St. Thomas (Minn., 38-13), 3-1, in a semifinal game at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wis. No. 9 Chapman University (32-16) takes on No. 3 the College of Wooster (42-9) in the other semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. This was Carthage's seventh appearance in the national championship. The Red Men finished third in 1993 and 1994 and fourth in 1995, 1997 and 2009.

Carthage advanced to the semifinals on Sunday, May 24 by getting by No. 6 Shenandoah University (38-10), 9-8 in 11 innings. The Carthage win eliminated Shenandoah from the championship. In Sunday's first game, Chapman (32-16) eliminated Kean University (39-11), 7-5. The College of Wooster (42-9) defeated No. 5 the University of St. Thomas (Minn., 38-13), 3-0, in Sunday's game between the two undefeated teams.

On Saturday, May 23, Carthage knocked off defending-national-champion and No. 1 Trinity College (Conn., 33-7), 10-1, to eliminate the Bantams from the tournament. In the other three Saturday games, Chapman (31-16) eliminated Farmingdale State College (30-17), 4-2; Wooster (41-9) routed Kean (39-10), 14-1, in the first winner's bracket game; and St. Thomas (Minn., 38-12) pounded Shenandoah (38-9), 16-5, in the other winner's bracket contest. Carthage lost to Wooster (40-9), 8-1, on Friday, May 22 in a first-round game, while Trinity (Conn.) lost its first-round game to Kean (39-9), 8-5. In the other two other first-round games on Friday, Shenandoah (38-8) pounded No. 12 Farmingdale State (30-16), 12-2, with St. Thomas (Minn., 37-12) upending Chapman (30-16), 9-1.

On a sunny, warm and windy day, Carthage pitcher Andy Pucher and St. Thomas hurler John Licht traded zeros for the first three innings. The Tommies broke the tie with a run in the fourth. Matt Olson led off with a bunt single and wound up at second when catcher Mike Hughes threw the ball away. Olson advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single up the middle by Drew Cremisino. In the sixth, Matt Olson drilled a one-out triple to left-center field. Brian Schmitz followed with a single to center to score Olson for a 2-0 Tommies lead. The Red Men got on the board in the sixth. With one out, John Lequia singled through the right side. With two outs, Drew Roberts drilled a double to the leftfield gap, scoring Lequia all the way from first on a close play at the plate to cut the lead to 2-1. In the St. Thomas seventh, Dan Leslie opened the inning by reaching base on a fielding error by third baseman Drew Roberts. A sacrifice bunt advanced him to second, and Red Men coach Augie Schmidt IV summoned reliever Bryan Kieffer to face Ben Wartman. Kieffer got Wartman on strikes, but leadoff hitter Matt McQuillan drilled a single to right to score Leslie for a 3-1 lead. With two outs in the Carthage ninth, Drew Roberts worked a base on balls, but pinch hitter Mark Sobol flied to left to end the game and end the Red Men's season.

The Tommies' John Licht (6-2) stymied the Red Men, allowing just one run on seven hits and one walk over nine innings, while striking out six batters. Andy Pucher (2-3) allowed three runs, one earned, on four hits and five walks over six and one-third innings. Kieffer blanked St. Thomas on one hit over the final two and two-thirds innings. Carthage's John Lequia went three-for-four, while Drew Roberts went two-for-four with an RBI. Lequia went nine-for-18 in the tournament with two doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI. Tyler Eickmeyer went hitless in four plate appearances to end his hitting streak at 24 games. Eickmeyer's streak is the third-longest in Red Men history, trailing only Glen Braun (26 games in 1999) and Justin Hallock (25 games in 2001).