Adrian Nips La Roche 1-0 in Pitchers' Duel Behind Big Defensive Plays; Falls to Wooster

Gunner Rainey (middle) greets #18 Brian Guck at home plate after Guck broke a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly as Tristin Richardson looks on. Adrian nipped La Roche, 1-0. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)
Gunner Rainey (middle) greets #18 Brian Guck at home plate after Guck broke a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly as Tristin Richardson looks on. Adrian nipped La Roche, 1-0. (Action photo by Mike Dickie)

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ADRIAN, Mich.--Day 3 of the 2018 NCAA Division III Baseball Mideast Regional began at 9 a.m. Saturday with a 1-0 nail-biting victory by Adrian College over La Roche College in a battle of nationally-ranked teams. The host Bulldogs, however, lost for the first time in this tournament to top-seed College of Wooster, 17-4, to wrap up the evening that lasted until early Sunday morning.

= Final Scoreline: #7 seed Adrian College 1-5-1; #3 seed La Roche College 0-6-0 

= Final Scoreline: #1 seed Wooster 17-13-1; #7 seed Adrian 4-8-6

= Location: Nicolay Field, Adrian, Mich.; Weather Conditions: Cloudy, 60 degrees, Wind SE 2 mph

= Records: Adrian Bulldogs, 35-11 overall; La Roche Redhawks, 35-9-1 overall; Wooster Fighting Scots, 39-8

= National Rankings: Adrian is No. 28 by American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (54 points) and No. 25 in Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (56 points); La Roche is No. 18 by ABCA/CBN (197 points) and No. 14 by (263 points); Wooster is No. 5 by ABCA/CBN (413 points) and No. 4 by (539 points, with three first-place votes).

Adrian link l La Roche link l Adrian vs Wooster links

= Sophomore Gunner Rainey was 3-for-4 against La Roche and made a terrific catch in left-center field at the wall to take away a hit. Rainey continued his hot hitting versus Wooster, going 4-for-5 to lead all student-athletes.

= Senior Brian Guck drove home the only run of the La Roche game with a sacrifice fly.

= Sophomore pitcher Pierce Banks (W, 7-2) went eight strong innings versus the Redhawks, allowing just two walks and four hits with nine strikeouts.

= Senior Hunter Hayes and junior Jason Croci had a double apiece.

= Freshman Jordan Williams closed in the ninth to earn his third save, combining on the team shutout with Banks.

= Johnathan Melendez was one of six Redhawks who had a hit, his going for a double.

= Nick Tunstall (L, 7-2) was the hard-luck loser as he gave up four hits, four walks and a run. He had four strikeouts.

= Michael Wielansky went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in and two runs scored.

= Drew Tornow hit a bases-clearing triple among his two hits on the evening.

= Dan Gail also had three RBI.

= Brian Murray (W, 6-2) struck out seven Bulldogs and allowed two runs (1 earned) on five hits and a walk in six innings of work.

HOW IT HAPPENED, Game 8 vs La Roche
= The only run of the contest occurred in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rainey led off with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second base. After two walks to Hayes and junior Dugan Darnell, Guck pinch-hit for Croci. On a full-count, Guck lifted a flyball to right field that scored Rainey from third.

= Banks and the Bulldogs defense came up big in several instances to keep the Redhawks off the scoreboard. La Roche's last of many scoring opportunities came in the top of the ninth while trailing 1-0, when Joe Professori and Shane Roebuck hit singles around a sacrifice bunt. With runners at first and third, Banks induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

= In the eighth, Banks gave up a leadoff double and hit the next batter. LC tried to sacrifice both runners a base, but Banks got the force out at third. Jonathan Spina flied into a double play that ended the threat.

= La Roche had a chance to respond immediately in the seventh to Adrian's run in the sixth. The first two batters reached and advanced 90 feet after a wild pitch. But Banks sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a popup to escape the jam.

= Banks was virtually unhittable through the first five innings, facing just one over the minimum batters during that stretch.

HOW IT HAPPENED, Game 11 vs Wooster
= The Fighting Scots scored six times in the opening frame and never looked back. 

= Adrian cut it to 6-2 with single runs in the second and third innings. Junior Jordan Torrento had a sacrifice fly and classmate Dugan Darnell had a RBI-single.

= But Wooster scored five times in both the fourth and sixth to ice the win.

= Adrian avenged a 17-5 loss on the road to Redhawks on April 30.

= Senior Frank Resto set what's believed to be an Adrian single-game record by throwing out three runners caught stealing.

= The Bulldogs are now 2-1 against La Roche in the all-time series that began in 2012. The teams are tied 1-1 in NCAA tournament play.

= Against Wooster, Adrian tied school records for errors (six) and runs allowed (17) in a game.

= Adrian will play Ithaca (30-16) or Wabash (30-16) in Game 12 at 3 p.m. Sunday for the right to play Wooster for the regional championship.

Mideast Regional seedings at Adrian College (with records entering the tournament): No. 1 Wooster (36-8), No. 2 Otterbein (30-14), No. 3 La Roche (34-8-1), No. 4 Marietta (27-16), No. 5 Shenandoah (34-10), No. 6 Ithaca (28-15), No. 7 Adrian (33-10) and No. 8 Wabash (28-15).

Game 8: Adrian 1, La Roche 0

Day three started with another pitcher's duel between Adrian College's Pierce Banks and La Roche College's Nick Tunstall. The two pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts and just eight hits.

Banks' day would end in the eighth where we went a full strong eight-innings with nine strikeouts and no runs, earning the win. Tunstall would make way in the seventh for his relief, he struck out four batters and gave up just the one run.

"Today was great regional baseball," said La Roche coach Chase Rowe. "Any given way this game could have ended with us having a crooked number."

Through the first five innings, both teams combined for just four hits and no runs.

Frank Resto made Adrian College history when he caught three Redhawks stealing in the first six innings. It is the first time an Adrian catcher has caught more than two runners in a game.

"I have to give all the credit to Banks," said Resto. "He is the best on our team at keeping guys on and I knew their first two hitters were good baserunners."

Adrian would get on the board first in the sixth inning. After Tuntsall walked the bases loaded, pinch-hitter Brian Guck knocked a fly ball to right center that allowed Gunner Rainey to score. That would be the only run of the game as both pitchers would cruise the rest of the way.

"We looked to one of our seniors in (Guck)," said Adrian coach Craig Rainey. "He hit a big sacrifice fly for us and came through."

Banks would run into some trouble in the seventh when he loaded the bases. Banks was able to escape unscathed though when he struck out the next batter, got a fly ball to Jordan Torrento at short and struck out another Redhawk to end the inning.

"Pierce was really good this game," said Rainey. "I think this is the best we have seen him all year."

Banks and the Bulldogs would face a challenge again in the eighth. Banks found himself in a no-out, two-man-on jam. After getting the first out, Banks drew a fly ball to left and left fielder Tristin Richardson was able to double up Elmo Trickett who got caught too far off of first base on the play.

"We did what we could," said Johnathan Melendez Redhawk first baseman. "We were trying to succeed."

Jordan Williams would come in to close out the game for the Bulldogs in the ninth. After getting men on first and third, Williams forced the Redhawks into a game ending 6-4-3 double-play that would send the Bulldogs on to face College of Wooster in the winner's bracket championship.

La Roche will play Wabash College later on Saturday in an elimination game on the losers' side.

Game 9: Ithaca 7, Shenandoah 5 (Hornets eliminated)

Late inning heroics sent Ithaca College on to the Sunday games and Shenandoah University home as the Bombers used six runs in the last three innings to propel them past the Cardinals 7-5.

"Fortunately, we had a pitcher come in that shut things down early," said Ithaca coach George Valesente. "It gave us a chance to sneak back in and make a game of it in the last three to four

Both teams were able to put runners on in the first couple innings but both Buffis and DePhillips were able to work their way out of the minor jams. Shenandoah would dent the scorebook in the third inning. The Hornets capitalized on a Luke Nussman triple to right field which scored Grant Thompson who had led off the inning with a single up the middle. Nussman crossed home plate when Keegan Woolford, who had four RBIs in Shenandoah's loss to College of Wooster, singled to right. The Hornets third run was pushed across thanks to a Nick Goode sacrifice fly.

Ithaca earned one back in the top of the fourth when Jake Generalli broke for home on a groundball to first base hit by Garrett Callaghan. The junior Genralli beat the throw and tag by the Shenandoah catcher.

The Hornets added another in the bottom half of the fourth as Henry Delavergne scored when Tristan Baker singled through the right side. Two innings later Shenandoah added to their lead when Thompson scored off another Nussman RBI.

Ithaca evened the score when they pushed across four runs between the seventh and eighth innings combined. Matt Carey ripped a shot down the third base line that was gloved by third baseman Christian Rice. Upon trying to throw Sam Little out at home, Rice bobbled the ball and all runners were safe. Andrew Wollner singled to left to score Callaghan after he reached base.

In the eighth after entering the game on a defensive replacement Cam Fuoti flied out to center to score Generalli.

"In the later part they were getting hits with two outs," said Valesente. "The timing of their hits dictated if they would score."

Ithaca scored again in the top of the ninth. After Carey walked, Jack Lymch hit a slow roller down the third base line that was perfectly placed to force no throw and move Carey to third.

With zero outs and two-men on Wollner hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Carey which proved to be the winning run.

"Coach told me just to get something belt high," said Wollner. "I just tried to simplify it."

Ithaca padded their newly-found lead with a bases loaded walk by Sam Little.

Ithaca will play the winner of Wabash College and La Roche College. Shenandoah exits the Mideast Regional Championship with a 35-12 record.

Game 10: Wabash 8, La Roche 5 (Redhawks eliminated)

La Roche exited the Mideast Regional Baseball Championship at the hands of Wabash College, but not peacefully. The Cardinals put up four runs in the ninth inning, but was not enough to overcome the six-spot the Little Giants put up six spot in the first inning to secure their victory. "Six in the first," said La Roche coach Chase Rowe. "It is tough to come back from that in anything especially a regional."

The Little Giants got the bats going early putting up six runs in the first inning. Sean Roginski and Bryce Aldridge scored when Matthew Annee doubled to right field. Eric Chavez attempted
to move runners on a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error on a play at first base allowed Jackson Blevins to score. Annee came around to touch home when Tyler Downing doubled down the
left field line and then Dowining rounded the bases himself thanks to a Jared Wolfe single. "I was really proud of our group today," said Wabash coach Jake Martin. "We talk about just
trying to go 1-0 and survive and we bought ourselves another day."

La Roche began their hopeful comeback in the second inning when Dylan Urban singled to right field scoring Austin Hoffm. Christian Hi attempted to squeeze Jay Novak home from third but Sean Smith alertly fielded and flipped the ball to Aldridge who applied the tag for the out. Wabash added two runs in the fifth when Henry Wannemuehler hit a soft grounder that
allowed Blevins to score. Wolfe then singled to centerfield allowing Downing to score as well. La Roche did not go down without a fight in ninth inning. The Cardinals put up four runs on three hits to give themselves a fighting chance. An error on an attempted tag play at second allowed Jonathan Spi to score to start off the inning.

"We felt like the lead was not safe," said Martin. "Even with the six-run lead, but we felt confident with Zach Moffett in the bullpen." Moffett entered the game and immediately gave up a single to Austin Hoffm. In the next at bat, a wild pitch allowed two runs to score, which cut the game to three. Moffett settled in though as he struck out the next two batters to secure another day of baseball for the Little Giants.

Wabash will now face Ithaca in another elimination game Sunday morning. We need to get something like we got from Sean Smith today," said Martin. "If someone can do
something special for us tomorrow we are going to have a chance. If we can buy one more day we can bring back our big two and perhaps make it interesting." La Roche bows out of the Mideast Regional Championship with a 35-10-1 overall record on the season.

--Sean Cain '18