CARY, N.C. -- Southern Indiana pulled off big win against a highly ranked team for the second game in a row, defeating third-ranked Lander 6-5 in the NCAA Division II national finals at the USA Baseball National Training Center. USI sees its record rise to 47-12, while Lander goes to 52-8.
The Screaming Eagles victories in the national finals have come against teams with a combined record of 103-11.USI jumped out in front 1-0 for the second game in row when sophomore rightfielder Kyle Kempf put the Eagles' first hit of the game over the left-field fence in the third inning. The home run was Kempf's team-best fourth of the year.
The Eagles followed Kempf's home run with a four-run fourth, highlighted by two walks, three hit batters, and a two-run double by sophomore first baseman Andrew Cope. USI missed a chance to score more when Kempf was thrown out at the plate and Cope was thrown out at third.
After Lander closed the gap to 5-4 with a four-run fifth, the Eagles pushed the lead back to two runs, 6-4, when junior shortstop/closer Matt Chavarria knocked in Kempf with a sacrifice fly. Kempf had moved into scoring position on a walk a balk, and a sacrifice bunt by Cope.
On the mound for USI, senior right-hander Jonathon Wandling went six-plus innings to get the win. Wandling (10-1) allowed five runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out three batters. He set the USI single-season record for strikeouts by striking out the first batter of the game and currently has 84.
Junior right-hander Andrew Mercer got the Eagles out of the seventh inning, while senior right-hander David Toth used 10 pitches to set the Bearcats down in order in the eighth. Chavarria took over in the ninth and set Lander down in order to get his 13th save of the year.
The Eagles continue the NCAA II national finals Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Their potential opponents will not be determined until the completion of action Tuesday and the brackets flip.