SALISBURY, Md. — The College of Wooster baseball team fought its way back to a 6-6 tie, then seventh-ranked Salisbury University scored twice in the ninth inning to take game one of the Salisbury Super Regional 8-6 on Saturday afternoon at Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
Now Wooster (34-16) must win twice on Sunday, while Salisbury (35-9), the defending national champion, just needs one win to punch its ticket back to the eight-team NCAA Div. III Championships, which start on Friday, June 3 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Salisbury third baseman Luke Weddell broke a 6-6 tie in the top of the ninth inning with a well-placed RBI single to right center. Right fielder Cameron Hyder executed a squeeze bunt that upped the Sea Gulls’ lead to 8-6 before Wooster junior Ethan Samangy (3-1) struck out second baseman Patrick Campbell for the final out of the ninth.
Brandon Epsetin (4-1) set Wooster down in order in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Earlier, Wooster rallied back with a three-run seventh inning that tied the game at six. Senior left fielder Dominic Stilliana and senior catcher Michael Thomas laced back-to-back singles to start the frame. Later, senior shortstop Tyler Chumita got the better of Salisbury lefty specialist Brock Hilligross with an RBI single up the middle that pulled Wooster within 6-4. Sophomore second baseman Eli Westrick followed with a tying two-run single to left field.
A fifth-inning wild pitch enabled Salisbury to open up a 6-1 lead. Campbell nearly made it a 7-1 contest, except for Chumita robbed the Sea Gulls’ second baseman of a single through the left side with a diving backhanded stop, then fired to Thomas, who applied the tag on lead runner Ben Anderson at home plate.
At the onset, Wooster junior Ryan Sullivan escaped unscathed in the top of the first inning. Two Sea Gulls advanced into scoring position before first baseman Sky Rahill flied out to Stilliana.
Senior center fielder Ben Gbur roped a double to right center to start the bottom of the first inning, and he later scored when Westrick smacked a double into right field. Of note, the run marked Gbur’s 80th of the year, and he is now the solo record-holder for most runs in single-season program history.
Walks and hit batters were huge factors in Saturday’s outcome. Nine Salisbury batters reached via walks with three more trotting down to first base after getting hit by Wooster pitchers.
Junior Dean Brown was the standout among Wooster’s five pitchers. He worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings, during which the right-hander struck out three. Samangy took his first loss of the year after allowing two runs on two hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Epstein improved to 4-1 after striking out four Scots in his two scoreless innings. Salisbury ace Jimmy Adkins allowed five runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Chumita and Westrick combined to go 5-for-8 with four RBI and they had half of Wooster’s hits.
Salisbury had just eight hits, but the aforementioned walks proved costly. Six of the Sea Gulls’ eight runs were from those who either walked or were hit by a pitch.
Game two of the Salisbury Super Regional gets underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 29, with the if-necessary game to follow approximately 35 minutes after if Wooster wins the 11 a.m. game.
This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: College of Wooster falls just short in game one of super regional