By Pat Coleman
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - Eric Hamilton homered, doubled and singled in his first three at-bats, but Roanoke put together runs in the second, third, fifth, sixth and eighth and Sal Trancucci came out of the bullpen with three and one-third innings of relief to keep the Maroons rolling with an 8-7 win vs. Oswego State in the first round of the Division III World Series.
Oswego fell to 32-10 overall and will face Concordia-Chicago in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Central time on Saturday. Roanoke will follow with a winners’ bracket game vs. Washington & Jefferson, which defeated Concordia 4-2.
|Will Black reached base on all five of his plate appearances, including a two-run double in the second inning.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Sal Trancucci earned the win with three and one-third innings of relief for Roanoke.
Hamilton was the big story early, but freshman reliever Sal Trancucci and his batterymate, senior catcher Will Black, were the keys to the game for Roanoke, which improved to 34-17.
Hamilton, a senior third baseman, crushed a long home run to left field to put Oswego State up 2-0 after one inning. But Roanoke tied the game four batters later. Scott Ellis hit a one-out single up the middle in the second inning, with Drew Mikula following with a single to left. Black, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, then lashed a double to left field to bring both around to score to tie the game.
“I think a big thing in baseball is shutdown innings,” Black said. “So when we get hit with two runs in the first to be able to come back out and respond with something is huge and we really rolled with that and took the momentum.”
Black came around to score on a single by right fielder Sean Guida to take a 3-2 lead after an inning and a half, then extended that lead to 4-2 after Drew Mikula jumped on the first pitch of the at-bat for a single to right to score Will Decker in the third.
Oswego State came back in the fourth, however, bringing four runs in to take a 6-4 lead and knock Roanoke starter John Ruhlman from the game.
“They came back in the fourth and threw another haymaker,” said Roanoke coach Matt McGuire, “and a lot of teams that don’t believe in each other, don’t have ten seniors who have led us all year probably would have gone back on their heels and not handled that very well but we’ve been in that situation all year, all postseason, and we believe we can do it.”
“We got four in the fourth to make it 6-4, but they (scored) one and two in the fifth and sixth,” Oswego coach Scott Landers said. “I think that’s the turning point in the game. We just couldn’t put that zero up there after we’d had a couple of big innings.”
Black led off the sixth with a single to left, then went from first to third when Guida singled to center. Collier Donald brought Black in with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 6-6, then Will Decker greeted reliever Brian Nolan with a single to center to give Roanoke the lead.
Meanwhile, Trancucci was frustrating the Oswego State hitters, as he threw three and a third innings of relief, allowing two hits and a walk before being relieved with one out in the ninth.
“He’s been our rock all year,” McGuire said. “He’s our go-to guy and we’re going to put him in that situation because we believe in him.”
“I thought (Trancucci) did a really good job getting ahead in the count,” Black added. “His slider was good and he was able to really use his fastball a lot. He hit spots down in the zone and when you keep the ball down you get more ground balls when you make contact and I thought he did a really good job of that today.”
Roanoke scratched out a key run in the top of the eighth as well, as Guida got hit by a pitch from Nolan to lead off the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and came in on Dean Hermanson’s second RBI of the game, a single to center. Trancucci went back out for the ninth and got the leadoff batter but hit Hamilton with a pitch and gave up a single to Mike Dellicarri before McGuire brought in closer Rawlings Cumbea.
Cumbea allowed an infield single to deep short, but got second baseman Zach Kollar to fly out at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat, bringing in a run to cut the lead to 8-7. Cumbea got the final out with one pitch, getting Eli Holton to fly to right.
For Roanoke, it continues a run in which the Maroons qualified for the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament on a tiebreaker, then won the conference as a sixth-seed in a six-team tournament before doing the same as the last seed in a six-team South Regional.
“We’re a team. I think it’s coachspeak but this is a group that believes in each other and is confident in each other. They love each other, and that’s not coachspeak, it’s true.”
Trancucci got the win in relief to improve to 7-2, with Cumbea getting the final two outs for his fifth save. Black went 4-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored as part of a 16-hit Roanoke attack. Tim Cronin started and took the loss for Oswego, allowing seven runs, all earned, in five and two-thirds innings. He fell to 9-2.