The freight train that was Central Missouri baseball’s offense met its match in Wingate freshman Sam Broderson, who pitched five scoreless and hitless innings against the Mules in the Division II World Series title game.
No. 1 overall seed Central Missouri (46-8) made it one step further than its third-place finish last year, but ultimately fell 5-3 against No. 6 seed Wingate (39-13) on Saturday afternoon in Cary, N.C.
Central Missouri was able to come back in the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead, but the fifth inning shifted the momentum in Wingates’ favor.
“We did what we don’t normally do, we gave them runs early and that that created opportunities for them,” Central Missouri coach Kyle Crooks said. “The margins are thin, and they took advantage of those opportunities.”
The two runs given up early came from a tough string of errors that were uncharacteristic of the Central Missouri defense, a defense that committed three errors the whole tournament, two by Donovan Ditto and one by Dusty Stroup.
“Sure it’s disappointing, physical errors,” Crooks said. “Not errors of fear, not errors of lack of effort or lack of hustle. They hurt, they make it tough, no question. Giving a good team extra outs is not what you want to do when you’re trying to win a game. And so that makes it tough, that’s the best fielding second baseman (Ditto) I’ve ever had.”
In the fifth inning, Wingate was able to take the lead after a walk and sacrifice bunt moved runner McCann Mellett into scoring position on second. Logan McNeely singled to center field for his 12th hit of the tournament and evened the score. Brady Gavin replaced Chase Plymell on the mound for Central Missouri. Gavin got the Mules out of the inning, but not before Gehrig Christopher hit a single and sent McNeely home for a 4-3 Wingate lead.
The fifth inning also brought Broderson into the game, and that was the end of the Central Missouri offense that only had five hits. The Wingate freshman put on a pitching performance that won’t be soon forgotten, not allowing any hits from a team with 620 this season, and 86 home runs on top of that.
Central Missouri had a quick turnaround from their win Saturday morning against Tampa to stay alive and reach the title game. This was due to rain delays that started Thursday night and suspended play for multiple games.
Alex Madera said the back-to-back games were nothing new for the team, and the weather wasn’t something they could control.
“We have been talking about the adversity, we couldn’t control the weather and the circumstances and the life put us in,” Madera said. “Wingate is a great team. We knew we had to compete hard and just, this is what happens.”
Central Missouri will be saying goodbye to seven seniors, each who had an impact on the season and throughout the tournament.
“Obviously everybody fights to get here and we fought all year to get here and they are resilient, they’ve experienced a lot,” Crooks said. “It’s hard for me to go too deep into the people that are in this uniform, I care a great deal about them.
“In terms of my pride in the group in the dugout and the team in general, I can’t say it enough: I love them all and I’d go to war with them any day.”
Erik Webb, Garrett Pennington and Mason Green were given all-tournament honors after the game. Green, an Olathe Northwest grad went undefeated as a pitcher this season for the Mules and is now the single-season record holder with 16 wins. The redshirt junior struck out 27 batters during the tournament.
Green worked seven strong innings in Saturday morning’s win over Tampa. He struck out seven and scattered five hits.