Day four is up next as we are now one team lighter in the field after our first elimination of the tournament. Tre Hobbs delivered an incredible performance for Delta State in a must-win situation, and eliminated North Georgia on Monday (May 29). We'll have another elimination game on our hands on Tuesday (May 30), when UC San Diego and Quincy face off.
First, our day three recap of the 2017 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals.
Game Five **Elimination Game**
Delta State - 4
North Georgia - 0
W: Tre Hobbs (9-4); L: Dylan Peppers (8-4)
The story of the first elimination game of the tournament was Tre Hobbs. The tournament favorites, Delta State, needed a big performance, and they got one.
Hobbs didn't allow a hit through five innings, as the first Nighthawks tally in that column came to lead off the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Hobbs got all the offense he needed in the top of the fourth inning. Emil Ellis reached on an error to lead off the inning, and Brian Lane singled back up the box to put runners on the corners. A walk to Zack Shannon loaded the bases, and you could sense danger.
Clay Casey followed with a two-RBI single, Juwan Burney followed with a one-RBI double, and Josh Russell hit in to an RBI ground out to make it 4-0 in the blink of an eye.
Hobbs finished off the CGSHO in 127 pitches, stretching him to the limit. He allowed only three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. Pretty much all of the DSU offense came in that fourth inning. Ellis was the only Statesman with multiple hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Lane and Shannon both went 1-for-3 with a run scored, while Casey was 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
Dylan Peppers for UNG wasn't bad in his work, going 7.1 innings with seven hits allowed, three earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts. Bill Leroy, Michael Gouge and Andres Perez were the only Nighthawk hitters to record hits.
UNG entered the tournament leading all eight finals teams in on-base percentage (.430).
Delta State advances to take on the loser of the St. Thomas Aquinas/Colorado Mesa contest.
West Chester - 5
Lindenwood - 2
W: Josh McClain (11-2); L: Connor Law (6-2)
We started off with a bang in our winner's bracket game on Monday. Cinderella Lindenwood began the game with a run in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by one of the hottest hitters in the tournament, Drew Quinones.
However, West Chester responded in the same inning. Nick Ward had a one-out single, moved to second on a Jared Melone single, and both those runners moved up on a ground out. With two outs, a wild pitch was uncorked that allowed the Golden Rams to knot the game up at one.
That score stuck for a good long while. Both starting pitchers were stellar in their work. Andrew Eilers for Lindenwood allowed only two hits, both of those in that first inning on consecutive batters, one run, one walk and struck out three in six innings of work. Mike Cipolla for WCU went 7.1 innings, allowed five hits and one run, walked three and struck out three.
It came down to long relief pitching, where Lindenwood should have had the upper hand with All-American Connor Law at its disposal. However, after Law struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh, he ran in to trouble in the bottom of the eighth. A lead-off walk, a single, and then a sacrifice bunt that turned in to a Law throwing error scored the go-ahead run to make it 2-1. An RBI double by Nick Bateman pushed the lead to 3-1, a walk loaded the bases, and an RBI single by Drew Jarmuz made it 4-1. The scoring ended with an RBI ground out by Clay Harwick that scored the aforementioned Bateman, making it 5-1.
That was enough for Josh McClain, who did run in to some issues in the top of the ninth, allowing an RBI single to Paul Sherwood with two outs, but he finished off the contest and put WCU in the national semifinals with 1.2 innings of relief work.
WCU's Melone and Jarmuz each went 2-for-4, with Jarmuz driving in a run. Ward went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while Bateman's 1-for-4, one run, one RBI game was thanks to his clutch double. For Lindenwood, Wes Degener was the only hitter with multiple hits, going 2-for-5. Quinones toned down a bit from his opening game, but still went 1-for-4 with an RBI, as did Sherwood. Kyle Teter went 1-for-4 with a double.
WCU advances to the semifinals, while Lindenwood will await the winner of the UC San Diego/Quincy contest.
UC San Diego (40-18, 24-13 CCAA) vs Quincy (37-22, 17-10 GLVC)
Tuesday, May 30th, 4:00 p.m. Eastern
The Tritons go five-deep with quality starters, but it will be Adrian Orozco (9-0, 2.89 ERA) getting the nod in the must-win game for UCSD. Quincy will most likely be choosing from Mark Niebrugge (7-5, 4.64 ERA) or Riley Martin (6-3, 5.21 ERA).
Jack Larsen was a huge bright spot for the Tritons in the first round game, hitting a home run and collecting two doubles in the game, and will try and keep UCSD from being sent home. J.C. DeMuri, Troy Wehde and Jake Walters, guys with 11, 12 and 18 home runs, respectively, will be trying to stave off elimination for the Hawks' offense.
St. Thomas Aquinas (43-15, 20-5 ECC) vs Colorado Mesa (49-10, 32-4 RMAC)
Tuesday, May 30th, 8:00 p.m. Eastern
The Mavericks will be entering this game having won nine straight games, and they'll probably put the ball in the hands of JR McDermott (9-1, 3.27 ERA) or Chris Ramriez (9-1, 3.54 ERA) to try and push that streak to 10 games. The pressure offense of CMU was fully on display against Quincy in the opening round, where they scored five runs without a single hit in the top of the seventh.
There are a number of options to roll out on top of the hill for STAC, as they'll probably pick from Anthony Shkrelja (4-1, 2.43 ERA), Chris Cepeda (7-3, 3.08 ERA) or John Bednarek (4-2, 5.40 ERA). Anthony Morris (10-1, 3.42 ERA) pitched in relief in game one and picked up the victory, so he is probably not an option, but he did only throw one inning, so we'll see.
CMU pitchers will have to deal with Giovanni Dingcong, he of 19 home runs and 51 RBI in a wood-bat conference and a disciplined STAC offense.