West Chester has claimed the 2017 NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship with a perfect run through the finals tournament after a 5-2 victory over UC San Diego on championship Sunday.
Here is our championship day recap for 2017:
Game Fourteen **Elimination Game for UCSD**
West Chester - 5
UC San Diego - 2
W: McClain (11-2); L: Orozco (9-1)
We were treated to a heck of a game for the first game on title day. Unfortunately for UC San Diego, it ended up being the only game on title day.
West Chester, aiming to win its second national championship in six years, got off to the hottest of starts, beginning the game with a lead-off blast from Robert Knox just over the left field wall to get out to a 1-0 lead.
The Tritons of UCSD were undeterred, however. In the bottom of the second, JD Hearn laced a one-out triple, and following a walk, Chad Crosbie singled Hearn in to tie the game up at one a piece.
The tie was short-lived, as WCU played long ball again, this time from Nick Ward, and this time over the right field wall to give the Golden Rams a 2-1 lead.
That lead stuck until the bottom of the sixth, when the Tritons battled back yet again.
The inning began with a bobbled ball that allowed Tyler Durna to reach, and he moved to second on an Alex Eliopulos single. With Hearn attempting a sacrifice bunt, an error allowed all runners to advance safely, loading the bases with nobody out for UCSD.
At this point, the game took a decisive turn.
West Chester went to its horse, Josh McClain. Three (!) pitches later, McClain had three outs on the board and only one run allowed. He induced a ground ball double play on his second pitch of his outing, allowing the tying run to score, but picking up two outs. On the next pitch, a foul pop-up ended the inning.
The tie was over for good in the following half-inning. The Golden Rams got a lead-off walk, and after a pop-up for the first out, a fly ball was sent to left field that appeared innocent enough. After the catch, Joe Sheeran, who drew that lead-off walk, advanced to second to put himself in scoring position. That proved to be a great decision, as a Chad Harwick RBI single back up the middle put WCU up 3-2.
McClain kept rolling on the mound, and WCU put insurance runs on the board in the top of the eight with an RBI single from Shane Dressler and an RBI ground out by Nick Bateman to make it a 5-2 game.
There was not much resistance from the opposition the rest of the way, as McClain did his usual McClain things en route to being named the tournament's most outstanding player.
McClain earned the victory with four one-hit innings of relief, allowing one walk with three strikeouts. He backed up an outing from Jon Fisher where Fisher went five innings, allowing five hits and two runs (one earned), two walks, and tallied one strikeout.
Ward and Jared Melone each finished the game 2-for-3, with Ward scoring twice, driving one in, and drawing a walk.
Adrian Orozco, the fifth-year senior for UCSD, went 6.2 innings with five hits and three runs allowed to go with four strikeouts. Hearn was the only Triton with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored, including his triple.
The Tritons end the year at 44-19 overall.
WCU ends the season 44-11 overall with its second national championship. The Golden Rams have won eight straight games at the D-II Baseball Finals, as they have now went 4-0 in both 2017 and in 2012.
The All-Tournament Team was as follows:
C - Michael Palos (UC San Diego) - 5-for-14, 5 R, 3 RBI, 6 BB, 1/1 SB
1B - Jared Melone (West Chester) - 7-for-14, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1/2 SB
2B - JD Hearn (UC San Diego) - 7-for-23, 4 R, 7 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 1/1 SB
3B - Alex Eliopulos (UC San Diego) - 10-for-26, 3 R, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB, 1/1 SB
SS - Nick Ward (West Chester) - 5-for-14, 6 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB
OF - Wes Degener (Lindenwood) - 8-for-15, 2 R, 1 2B, 0/1 SB
OF - Jack Larsen (UC San Diego) - 12-for-24, 10 R, 7 RBI, 4 2B, 1 HR, 8 BB
OF - Giovanni Dingcong (St. Thomas Aquinas) - 5-for-16, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR, 3 BB, 1/1 SB
DH - Drew Quinones (Lindenwood) - 6-for-13, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 3B
P - Tre Hobbs (Delta State) - 1 app, 9.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 1-0
P - Josh McClain (West Chester) - 4 app, 9.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 7 K, 2-0, 1 SV
Most Outstanding Player - Josh McClain (West Chester)
Thus ends the 2017 NCAA Division II Baseball season, as West Chester claims the national championship with a perfect run through a very competitive national finals field.
Congratulations to the Golden Rams!
Stay tuned here to the blog, as we will be doing a 2017 review post in the coming days looking over the entirety of the season, and giving some of our random thoughts on teams who impressed, and those to keep an eye on in the future. Not to mention, the MLB Draft season is now upon us!