CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – The College of Wooster scored in six of the first eight innings, including a four-run seventh that extended its lead to 9-2, and ultimately prevailed 10-5 over DePauw University in Saturday's North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship game at VA Memorial Stadium. Wooster also defeated DePauw 5-1 earlier to force the winner-take-all game.
Wooster (34-11) extends its league-leading NCAC championships to 16 with its first title since 2013, and receives the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Div. III Championships field.
In the championship game, the Scots steadily built a 5-2 lead through six innings via single tallies in the first and third innings, a two spot in the fifth, and one more run in the sixth, which featured a leadoff triple to the wall by pinch hitter Chris Fafalios. That was Wooster's first extra-base hit of the game.
Then in the top of the seventh, the Scots just about sealed the outcome. Michael Wielansky and Jamie Lackner opened the frame with back-to-back singles, part of a 4-for-4, three-RBI performance for the latter. After a passed ball moved the runners up, Ryan Ostendorf plated Wielansky via a sacrifice fly, and a few hitters later, Chandler Dippman delivered the big blow – a two-out, bases-loaded triple into the right-center gap – as the freshman third baseman made it a seven-run margin.
Following a scoreless home half of the seventh from middle reliever Hank Schlueter, the Wielansky-Lackner combination produced another run. They each recorded a double in the eighth inning to push the score to 10-2.
DePauw (25-19) struck for three in the bottom of the eighth before Michael Whitaker halted that rally and then worked a relatively smooth ninth inning as he worked around a one-out infield single to complete Wooster's 2016 NCAC championship run.
Schlueter picked up his second win of the season (2-0), finishing with a stat line of two runs allowed in 3.1 innings of work.
In addition to Lackner's strong performance in the championship game, Wielansky went 3-for-5 and Fafalios reached base safely in all three of his plate appearances with a pair of walks after the triple.
During Saturday's first game, the pitching of Michael Houdek and Whitaker plus one swing of the bat by Drew Tornow lifted the Scots to the 5-1 victory. All five of their runs came in the fifth inning, as they drew four consecutive two-out walks, then Tornow deposited the first pitch of his at bat over the wall in left for a grand slam.
Houdek, pitching on one day's rest, went the first five innings, just yielding a single run on six hits and three walks. Whitaker took over in the sixth and scattered four singles while keeping DePauw off the board the rest of the way for a four-inning save. Together, they combined for 15 strikeouts – eight by Houdek and seven by Whitaker – which marked the most by a Wooster team since April 8, 2010, at Marietta College.
Selected as the Most Valuable Player of the NCAC Tournament was Lackner, who batted .625 (10-for-16) with a double, two homers, and eight RBI while also walking nine times for a .769 on-base percentage.
The Scots' other representatives on the all-tourney team were Houdek (2-0, 3.09 ERA), Tyler Schuch (1-0, 1.29 ERA), Tornow (.272, 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI), and Wielansky (.455, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI).
The NCAA will announce this year's regional fields on Monday.