Freshman gives Pointers walk-off win

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Bryton Guckenberg's game-winning home run for the Pointers was the third of his career and by far the biggest. photo by Ryan Coleman
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By Jim Dixon

GRAND CHUTE, Wis. -- Bryton Guckenberg's home run in the tenth inning sent UW-Stevens Point into the winners bracket with a 6-5 win over Manchester in the 2013 NCAA D-III College World Series.

The homer capped a rally which saw the Pointers (40-9) score six runs in the final three innings to storm back against the Spartans, who led 5-0 going into the bottom of the eighth inning.

"I had been playing it through my head, what if I hit a walk-off home run and he gave me the pitch and it happened," said Bryton Guckenberg. "I got to a 3-1 count and I was waiting for the fastball and he gave it to me and I put a good swing on it."

Manchester (39-6-1) scored twice in the opening frame.  Bryce Murphy singled to right field, Corey Marchant walked and Jordan Niemann's single to left to load the bases. Trevor Kimm singled to left field to score Bryce Murphy and Marchant.

Manchester added single runs in the second, sixth and eighth innings. Manchester loaded the bases in the second inning on three straight infield hits to third base. Brad Murphy's safety to right field plated Elliot Ford. In the sixth, Kyle Norris opened the inning with a towering shot over the left field fence. In the eighth, Ford doubled and scored on Austin Rieke's single.

UW-Stevens Point got the rally started with three runs in the eighth inning. Sean Gerber hit by a pitch and scored on Jimmy Coady's triple to right center. Casey Barnes singled home Coady and scored on a Riley Spetz double.

The Pointers force extra innings with two runs in the ninth. Dan Douglas was issued a free pass and scored on Gerber's triple. Coady's sacrifice fly scored Gerber and the game was tied and headed into extra innings.

Manchester had a chance to blow the game open in the top half of the 10th inning. Trevor Kimm started it off by reaching on an error, while Cody Schell reached on a fielder's choice. Kyle Norris knocked his second single of the game to put runners on first and second, who were advanced on a bunt single. However, Austin Rieke struck out on a check swing that just went across and Bryan Murphy flew out to center.

"We felt comfortable with Bryce [Murphy],"said Trevor Kimm. "We did not get the job done with two outs and the bases loaded. We plated well to the last pitch and it was the last pitch that determined the game."

"That was a heck of a win," said UW-Stevens Point coach Pat Bloom. "That was not the way we wanted to start out but we've been there before and accustomed to playing with a deficit early, staying the course and chip at the end."

"Sometimes it is easier to lose a 20-5 game instead of a 6-5 game,"said Manchester head coach Rick Espeset. "It hurts but the best thing about baseball is you get to come back and play tomorrow."

UW-Stevens Point moved into the winners bracket and will play the winner of the final game of the day. Manchester will play in the second game on Saturday against an opponent to be determined.

Manchester news conference

UW-Stevens Point news conference