LYNCHBURG, Va. -- A comeback season for the Virginia Wesleyan College baseball program progressed all the way to the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship game on Sunday, but came up a couple runs short of amazing.
Shenandoah University's No. 6 ranked Hornets relied on a three-run sixth inning to eke out a 4-2 victory in the second game of the championship series played at City Stadium. Virginia Wesleyan, which advanced to its first title game since 2009, got there by eliminating Randolph-Macon College 5-3 Sunday morning and then knocking off Shenandoah 9-7 in the first game of the title series shortly thereafter. VWC's win over the Hornets made it necessary to play the second game to determine the ODAC's automatic representative for the upcoming NCAA Division III national championship tournament.
Virginia Wesleyan (19-14), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, took a 2-1 lead over the No. 1 seed Hornets with a two-run fourth inning. Sophomore Taylor Erby (Norfolk/Lake Taylor) singled, advanced to second on a balk, and eventually scored on a single up the middle from senior Jordan Miller (Chesapeake/Grassfield). Miller scored when sophomore C.J. Lindsay (Remington/Bealeton Liberty) knocked a double into left centerfield.
The Marlins held Shenandoah (27-8-1) without a threat in its next two at-bats, but the Hornets rekindled their offense in the bottom of the sixth, connecting for four of their total seven hits in the game. All four hits were singles, that included consecutive shots from John Wilt, Michael Paul, and Dan Freshly.
VWC came back with a single from sophomore Nik Milvo (Norfolk/Chesapeake Indian River) in the seventh and a single from senior Zach Bach (Virginia Beach/Frank W. Cox) in the eighth, but fell 1-2-3 in the ninth, as Shenandoah held on for the win.
Bach recorded a double and single to lead VWC's six-hit production in the title game. Shenandoah finished with seven hits, led by Paul with three singles.
Darrell Thompson pitched a complete game for the Hornets and improved to 6-1. He struck out nine batters. Sophomore Nick Ott (Virginia Beach/Bishop Sullivan Catholic) worked 5.1 innings for the Marlins and took the loss. He struck out five, walked three, and allowed six hits. Rookie Nick Bay (Virginia Beach/Frank W. Cox) and sophomore Riley Koonce (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) followed in relief.
Virginia Wesleyan 9, Shenandoah 7
The Marlins trailed 6-4 after seven innings, but came back strong in the final two innings, outscoring the Hornets 5-2 to take the win that forced the second game with SU.
Virginia Wesleyan cranked out eight hits in those final two innings, highlighted by a pair of doubles from Taylor Erby and one each from senior Josh Mason (Chesapeake/Bishop Sullivan Catholic) and Lindsay. Zach added a pair of singles in those two innings as well.
VWC outhit Shenandoah 13-10, including five doubles. Rookie Brandon Kussmaul (Virginia Beach/Landstown) had one of those doubles for the Marlins, who were led by Matt Murray with a trio of singles. Shenandoah hitting was highlighted by a home run from Nolan Overby, a triple from Ricky Pardo, and a double from Paul.
Junior Sean Greiser (Virginia Beach/Floyd E. Kellam) started on the mound for the Marlins and pitched five innings, striking out five. Sophomore Austin Gammon (North Chesterfield/Lloyd C. Bird) followed for three innings and took the win, improving to 2-0. He faced 17 batters before Koonce came in to finish. Matt Riegler took the loss for the Hornets, who started Colin Morse. Morse pitched seven innings and struck out six.
MOP: - Darrell Thompson, Shenandoah
P – James Walsh, Randolph-Macon
P – Michael Scimanico, Shenandoah
C – Mitchell Keeler, Randolph-Macon
1B – Zach Bach, Virginia Wesleyan
2B – Billy Arens, Shenandoah
3B –Matt Murray, Virginia Wesleyan
SS – John Wilt, Shenandoah
OF – Rick Spiers, Randolph-Macon
OF – Brian Kluge, Roanoke
OF – Taylor Erby, Virginia Wesleyan
DH – Josh Mason, Virginia Wesleyan