Late Rally Falls Short As Wilmington Ends Season with 6-3 Loss to No. 1 Seed Southern New Hampshire in East Regional
Base: #5 WU 3 - #1 Southern New Hampshire 6 - NCAA East Regional
Saturday, May 19, 2012 - Manchester, N.H.
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Freshman Ray Gambone struck out five batters in 2.1 innings of relief on Saturday
Sophomore Justin DeLong pitched the first 4.1 innings on Saturday
The 2012 seniors left to right: Adam Soley, Bryan Miller, Mike Godwin, Ryan Lally, Kyle Hitchens, Joe Harbach, and Jordan Oncay at the team banquet
Another stellar season comes to a close for the Wilmington University baseball team as a ninth inning rally fell short, dropping a 6-3 decision to host and No. 1 seed Southern New Hampshire University in an elimination game in the NCAA Division II East Regional tournament on Saturday morning at Penmen Field.
Wilmington closes its season with a 33-18 record after winning back-to-back Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championships, earning back-to-back NCAA Regional bids. Southern New Hampshire (40-13) continues its bid for the right to go to the NCAA Division II World Series with the win.
The Wildcats brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, loading the bases and bringing in two run before the Penmen shut the door and ended any come from behind magic. Wilmington scored a single run in the eighth to cut it to 6-1 before the last ditch effort cut it to 6-3.
The senior laden lineup had a bulk of the at-bats in the ninth, and it seemed none of them wanted their season to end. Bryan Miller led off the inning and hit a sharp groundball off the glove of the third baseman to reach first. After senior Adam Soley flew out for the first out, classmate Kyle Hitchens singled the other way to put runners on first and second.
Jordan Johnson flared one down the leftfield line that fell in, enabling pinch runner Brandon Payne to score from second for the first run of the inning. Jonathan Rodriguez stepped in and drove a ball up the middle that the shortstop was able to get his glove on. The flip to second was not in time as Johnson raced in before the out to load the bases.
Still with the bases loaded and two outs, senior Joe Harbach stepped in and worked the counted full. Being the tying run, Harbach watched as ball four went by to bring the score to 6-3 and keep the bases loaded. Classmate Mike Godwin stepped to the plate as the go-ahead run, but Godwin connected on an 0-1 pitch, popping it down the right field line as the first baseman went back to record the final out of the game.
Justin DeLong went 4.1 innings for the Wildcats, giving up five unearned runs on four hits. He struck out two batters but walked three during his outing. The big blow of the game came in the fifth as the Penmen’s Andy Lalli deposited a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left-center for a grand slam to make it 5-0.
Tim Racek and Ray Gambone combined for the remaining 3.2 innings of work, with Gambone recording five strikeouts and no walks in 2.1 innings of work.
Harbach, Johnson and Rodriguez each collected two hits in the game while Jordan Oncay, Miller, Frank Samluk, and Hitchens aided in the remaining four hits for the Wildcats.
The loss signified the completion of seven collegiate careers for the Wildcats as Harbach, Godwin, Oncay, Hitchens, Soley, Miller and Ryan Lally played their final game for the Green and White.
As a group, the seven seniors helped the team win three CACC Tournament Championships and reach three NCAA Division II East Regionals in four years. The class of 2012 also helped the team reach the East Regional championship game in 2009. The seven seniors have accounted for 128 wins since they started in 2009.