HARWICH, Mass. -- Mitchell pulled off a stunning upset on the opening day of play at the 2014 NCAA Baseball Championship Harwich Regional, coming away with a 4-3 victory against top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State in 11 innings at Whitehouse Field.
Eighth-seeded Mitchell (24-12-1 overall) advances in the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will face fourth-seeded Endicott at 4:30 p.m. ET Thursday.
The Mariners never trailed in the contest and outhit the Warriors 14-10. Mitchell scored runs in the sixth, seventh, 10th and 11th innings before finally holding on for the win, the College's first in an NCAA setting in any sport. It also marked the baseball program's first win against a nationally-ranked opponent, as Eastern Connecticut entered the contest ranked 10th in the latest American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Poll and 11th in the D3.baseball.com Top 25 Poll.
Rafael Garcia hit a one-out double in the 12th and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Ryan Goodwin coupled with a fielding error, one of five miscues on the day for the ECSU defense. Goodwin and Gavin LaLima each finished with three hits to pace the Mitchell offense while Garcia had two hits and scored a pair of runs.
Starting pitcher Tyler Shamas tossed a gem for the Mariners, giving up only two runs on five hits while striking out five in 8.2 innings. Troy Stango and Axel De Jesus each saw action out of the pen and worked out of tough spots to keep the Mariners in the game. Stango got the final out in the ninth with the winning run on second base, and De Jesus (4-2 overall) worked out of a bases-loaded quagmire in the 10th to extend the game.
Mitchell put runners on base in every inning and stranded 17 in the game. ECSU, which also left 13 on base, was led Nik Ververis, who finished with three hits and scored all three runs.
Eastern Connecticut threatened in the first inning, putting a pair of runners on base behind back-to-back singles with no outs. Shamas did well to escape trouble, going to a full count against Brendan Lynch before punching him out, and then getting a pair of long fly balls for the final two outs.
Both teams put two runners on in the second inning but came away empty. Mitchell had runners at first and second with two outs before starting pitcher Greg Porter got a strikeout to end the threat. Shamas retired the first two batters in the home half before the Warriors eventually put runners on the corners. However, he got the next batter to pop up to keep the game scoreless through two.
The Mariners put up the game's first run in the sixth. Garcia and Goodwin each reached base with one-out singles, and on an ensuing double steal attempt, ECSU catcher Tim Budd bounced his throw to third and allowed a run to score.
The Warriors tied it up in the bottom of the frame, setting the table by putting runners on the corners with one out. Kyle Hart followed with a grounder deep into the hole at short, and the Mariners just missed out on turning the inning-ending double play. Hart barely beat the throw to first as Ververis crossed the plate with the tying run.
Mitchell went back up by a run in the seventh. LaLima led off with a single to right and moved into scoring position with a steal of second base. Marc Dorsi moved him over to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Kenneth Olszewski brought him home with a hard-hit infield single to make it 2-1.
A leadoff walk almost came back to haunt Shamas in the bottom of the seventh. Eastern Connecticut moved the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and after a ground ball advanced the tying run to third, Shamas got a lazy fly ball to left to end the inning.
The Warriors tied the game in the eighth as Ververis led off with a walk. He stole second base and, after a fly-ball first out, was on the move again when Gavin Lavallee laced a single to right-center.
Eastern Connecticut dodged a bullet in the top of the ninth as Mitchell put two on with one out. The Warriors turned the ball over to closer Adam Merritt, who quickly worked out of the jam. The Mariners got the go-ahead runner to third base after Garcia hustled down the line to beat out a double play. Merritt, however, struck out the next batter on three pitches to preserve the 2-2 stalemate.
Shamas came out to start the ninth and retired the first two batters before Corey Keane kept the Warriors alive with a single to left. Shamas then left the game after yielding an intentional walk to Lynch, and the left-handed Stango came in to face Ververis. However, Stango executed a timed pick-off play to first base, and the Mariners got the runners hung up in a rundown to record the third out.
Mitchell pulled ahead in the 10th on an RBI single up the middle by Dorsi. The Warriors should have been out of the inning unscathed, but a fielding error gave the Mariners a two-out base runner. LaLima followed with a single to left to move the runner to second, and Dorsi's ball up the middle was deflected into shallow left on a diving attempt by the second baseman, allowing pinch runner Lucas Mariani to score.
The Warriors loaded the bases with only one out in the 10th and tied the game when Budd drew a walk to force in a run. Despite struggling with his control, De Jesus got the Mariners out of the jam. He got the next batter to ground to Garcia at third, and Mitchell cut the winning run down at the plate. De Jesus then went to a full count against Mike Vaccarelli before stabbing a comebacker to the mound to keep the game knotted at 3-3.
With one out in the 11th, Garcia doubled down the left field line and then advanced to third on a single up the middle by Ryan Goodwin. Goodwin's ground ball was knocked down behind the second-base bag, and Garcia was able to score while the ECSU infielders scrambled for the ball.
The Warriors put the tying run on second and the winning run on first in the bottom of the 11th. But De Jesus got a fly ball to center for the penultimate out, and Garcia cleaned up a grounder to third by Lavallee to end the game.
Porter lasted 6.1 innings and allowed two runs on six hits while striking out six. Merritt (2-2 overall) yielded two runs (both unearned) on four hits and struck out three.