Washington & Jefferson College defeated Keystone College 8-4 in the winner's bracket final of the NCAA Mideast Regional on Saturday night at Ross Memorial Park. The fourth-seeded Presidents improve to 37-10 and advance to the championship round of the regional tournament needing one more win to punch its ticket to the NCAA Division III Collegiate World Series.
The sixth-seeded Giants (33-14), who had a six-game regional playoff winning streak snapped, will play a semifinal elimination game at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday against the winner of Sunday's first elimination game between SUNY Cortland and DePauw University which starts at 9:30 a.m.
W&J took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Saturday night, plating three runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman to give Keystone its first deficit of the tournament. Nick Vento hit an RBI single and would later score the Presidents' third run after Mark Merlino connected on a sacrifice fly.
Bray Curreri put Keystone on the board by leading off the bottom of the fifth inning with a home run to right field, his first homer of the spring, to cut the Giants' deficit to 3-1.
W&J restored its three-run advantage in their next trip to the plate as Kevin Begley delivered an RBI double down the left field line to make it a 4-1 ballgame, but Austin Chaszar brought Keystone to within a run in the home half of the frame, belting a two-run home run to left center, his first of the season, to cut the Giants' deficit to 4-3.
The Presidents responded with a two-out, bases-clearing double to right center from Frank Fortunato in the top of the seventh inning to claim a 7-3 lead.
Keystone countered in the home half of the frame with an RBI single from Ryan Callahan to make it a 7-4 ballgame, but W&J took an 8-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning after Merlino scored on a passed ball which would mark the end of the scoring for the game.
Washington & Jefferson starter Bryce Schnatterly improve to 8-0 on the season after going 6.1 innings and being charged with four runs on seven hits while picking up four strikeouts. Will Bowser notched his first save of the year by yielding by striking out seven batters and allowing just one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings to close out the victory.
Vento went 4-5 while Fortunato's game-high three RBI paced the Presidents, who outhit Keystone 13-8 in the contest.
Keystone starter Yeison Andujar was charged with the loss after surrendering three runs on two hits and two walks while striking out three batters in the first two innings of the game. Tyler Widitz pitched a scoreless third inning with two K's and one hit against before giving way to Dylan Leahy, who went five innings and yielded four runs on nine hits while fanning four batters. Jack Simons gave up an unearned run on one hit while striking out two batters in the ninth inning.
Chris Panzarella went 3-4 to lead the Giants at the dish while Callahan added a pair of hits in the loss.
Keystone will now need to win three games over the next two days to return to the NCAA Division III World Series for the second straight year. The Giants can advance to the championship round with a win in Sunday's first game and then will need to defeat W&J twice to win the regional title.