APPLETON, Wis. -- St. Thomas (Minn.) rallied from behind twice Saturday night to stay in the winners' bracket at the NCAA Division III national finals as it a recorded a 5-4 victory against Baldwin Wallace.
The No. 6-ranked Tommies (39-8) advanced to a third-round winners’ bracket game at 8 p.m. ET Sunday. Another win would put them into the championship game on Tuesday. Head coach Chris Olean's team is already assured of a top-four finish for the sixth time in its six national finals trips.
St. Thomas extended its winning streak to 14 games, all in May. It was the Tommies’ 10th comeback win this year, and third in six NCAA playoff games. They improved to 13-4 in one- or two-run games.
It also marked the sixth time in six tries that St. Thomas has gone 2-0 in the opening two games of the national finals; UST won titles in 2001 and '09; finished second in 1999 and 2000; and placed third in 2012.
Baldwin Wallace, which outhit the Toms 13-8, put runners on base in every inning and held leads of 1-0 and 3-1. But St. Thomas pitchers Colin Wendinger, Jacob Nelson and Tommy Danczyk stranded 11 to keep the game close.Wendinger, a junior from New Ulm who came in 8-0 on the season, left after five after allowing two earned runs in a 3-3 game. Nelson, a senior from Anoka, picked up the win, his first of the year, with three innings of scoreless, three-hit relief. Danczyk picked up his 11th save, but only after giving up a run on three singles in the ninth.
The Yellow Jackets (30-19) took a 1-0 lead in the second. Wendinger walked the leadoff batter, who moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt and scored on a two-out single to right.
St. Thomas tied the game in the bottom of the third on singles by Ben Podobinski, Waylon Bemboom and, with two outs, Tim Kuzniar.
Baldwin Wallace retook the lead 3-1 in the fifth on a single, double and single, but the Tommies bounced back in the bottom of the inning to again tie the game on a Podobinski walk, Jack Hogan triple and a wild pitch by BW starter Cory Waite.
The Tommies used small ball to take their first lead, 4-3, in the bottom of the sixth. Brady Johnson was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a Nick Degen sacrifice bunt and to third on a Sam Miller fly ball, and scored on a Podobinski single to right. Podobinski would finish with a walk and three singles and now has 198 hits in his three-year career.
St. Thomas extended the lead to 5-3 in the seventh. With two out, catcher J.D. Dorgan singled to left, the 200th hit of his St. Thomas career. Dorgan stole second and came home when the first baseman threw away a Kelvin Stroik grounder.
Baldwin Wallace had three consecutive singles in the ninth off Danczyk, but he struck out two hitters and got a ground out to second to end the game. The Yellow Jackets stranded runners on first and second.