APPLETON, Wisconsin – An improbable path turned out to lead directly to the Fox Cities Stadium mound for the UT Tyler Patriots who won the 2018 NCAA Division III National Baseball Championship after sweeping through the finals over No. 6 Texas Lutheran on Tuesday to win the title.
The Patriots (40-18) won the first championship title in program history after opening with an 8-1 win in the first game and then closing it out with a 9-6 victory that ended with the team sprinting to the center of the infield to celebrate. UT Tyler, which is unranked and didn’t know if it would even make the NCAA postseason after falling in the semifinals of the conference tournament, would get the at-large bid and made the most of the opportunity where they would win the NCAA Central Regional by staving off elimination five times. UT Tyler went 11-2 in the NCAA postseason and was 5-1 in Appleton, Wisconsin during the NCAA Baseball Championships that may have seemed unlikely and unbelievable to some, but is reality for the Patriots who will board a plane on Wednesday in Wisconsin to head back to Texas with the championship trophy.
UT Tyler would win the national championship with two impressive wins on Tuesday, starting with the 8-1 win the opener behind a complete-game from Simon Sedillo (9-3) who struck out five, didn’t walk a single batter and scattered six hits. Sedillo, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, also threw a complete-game victory over No. 22 Oswego State last Friday in the first game of the NCAA Championship. While Sedillo was dealing, UT Tyler’s offense continued producing with two runs in the first with Blake Wilson ripping a two-run triple down the right-field line to bring home Jared Pauley and Alex Bishop who had walked. A 2-0 lead became a 7-0 advantage in the fourth inning with Blake Maddox driving in one run with a single, Pauley hitting a two-run double to left-center and Josh Burns drilling a pitch off the wall for two more runs to cap a five-run inning for the Patriots who took commanding control of the game and set the tone for the rest of the day.
Pauley, who had a 21-game hitting streak end on Monday, led the Patriots by going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs scored in the opener while Roach and Farris both had two hit games.UT Tyler would complete the finals sweep and clinch the national title with the 9-6 win in the second game where they scored four runs in the fourth and five in the seventh behind the pitching of Ryan Cheatham and Alex Masotto. Down 1-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, Farris hit a one-out double and was followed by a flyout. With two outs on the scoreboard, Maddox stepped up for the second straight day to deliver a two-run home run to left field to spark the inning. He was followed by a Henry Sanchez single, a Pauley walk and then a two-run double down the left-field line by Roach as the Patriots took a 4-1 lead.
TLU, which ends its season with a 42-12 record, wouldn’t go down without and tied the game with three runs on four hits in the top of the sixth. A scoreless bottom of the sixth for the Patriots was followed by Masotto keeping the Bulldogs off the board in the seventh to set up what would be the championship-clinching inning. Tied at four, Burns took a walk to lead off the inning and was followed by Bishop who would drill a pitch off the right-field pole for a two-run home run on his 199th career hit as a Patriot. The 21st home run and program-record 145th RBI gave UT Tyler a 6-4 lead and the momentum that would carry on to Maddox drawing a bases-loaded walk for another run, Sanchez bringing home Farris on a sacrifice fly and Welch scoring on a passed ball to cap a five-run inning.