CARY, N.C. -- Kyle Davis allowed only one earned run in seven innings and six different players drove in a run as Colorado Mesa defeated Seton Hill 6-2 in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Division II national finals Monday (May 27) at USA Baseball National Training Complex. The national finals are hosted Mount Olive and th town of Cary.
Colorado Mesa (46-11) built a 6-1 lead and the Mavericks' infield prevented a Seton Hill rally in the eighth. Davis (8-0) started the eighth inning, but came out after allowing a leadoff single to Brendan Constantino. The Griffins had runners on first and second with nobody out when shortstop Nate Robertson short-hopped a hard bouncer and flipped to second for the first out. First baseman Garrett Woodward dug the one bouncer from second to complete the double play as Seton Hill had to settle for one run in the inning.Seton Hill's defense was the story early on as centerfielder Taylor Schmidt denied Colorado Mesa a near certain run in the top of the third. Austin Wallingford led off with a single, stole second with one out and advanced to third on a groundout to the right side. Garrett Carpenter followed with a sinking line drive to shallow center, but Schmidt charged and made a diving catch to keep the game scoreless.
Colorado Mesa would plate two runs in the next inning despite getting only one ball out of the infield. Austin Kaiser, named Division II National Player of the Year by two organizations, led off the top of the fourth with a single. Robertson reached on a throwing error on his sacrifice attempt and the Mavericks loaded the bases when Seton Hill pitcher Brad Schnelle was unable to come up with a diving catch on Jordan Liester's bunt popup 30 feet up the third base line.
Derrick Garcia's groundout to first drove in the initial run of the game and Woodward's groundout to short brought in the second run to give Colorado Mesa a 2-0 lead. The two RBI groundouts continued a trend in this year's national finals as more than one-third of the runs scored have come as a result of non-hits (RBI groundouts, sacrifice flies, double steals, walks, hit batsmen, errors, balks, etc.).
The Mavericks added two more runs in the fifth by more conventional means as Sergio Valenzuela singled with one out and scored on a double by Carpenter. Kaiser followed with an opposite-field triple down the right field line to extend Colorado Mesa's lead to 4-0.
Seton Hill (41-16) capitalized on a Colorado Mesa miscue to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. Dan Abbennante, who entered the game with only 30 at bats this season, kept the inning alive with a two-out single to left. Schmidt beat out a bunt single and Abbennante attempted to advance to third. The throw from first was off target, allowing Abbennante to score and pull the Griffins within 4-1.
Seton Hill survived a gadget play, a balk and a bases loaded jam in the top of the sixth to keep Colorado Mesa from adding to its lead. After Garcia led off with a single, the Mavericks tried a bit of trickery one out later during Wallingford's at bat. On ball three, Wallingford dropped his bat and trotted to first as if issued a walk while Garcia made his way to second. After much discussion, Wallingford returned to the batter's box with a 3-0 count and Garcia remained at second with a stolen base.
The stolen base became moot when Wallingford drew the four-pitch walk. Both runners advanced when Griffins pitcher Brad Schnelle was called for a balk. After a groundout kept the runners on base, Valenzuela drew a walk to load the bases. But Schnelle got a strikeout swinging on a 2-2 pitch to get out of the adventurous inning unscathed.
Colorado Mesa would go on to add two more runs in the top of the eighth inning. Wallingford drove in a run with a triple and scored on Valenzuela's sacrifice bunt down the first base line.
Colorado Mesa is idle until Thursday and is one win away from reaching Saturday's championship game. Seton Hill faces Minnesota State-Mankato at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday in an elimination game. The Griffins defeated Minnesota State 4-2 Sunday in the first round.