By Jim Dixon
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - Nick Herzog's single to left field plated Josh Lopez and proved to be the game winner as Mass-Boston ended a five game losing streak to Wheaton (Mass.) with a 3-2 win in the 2017 D-III College World Series at neuroscience group field at Fox Cities Stadium.
"A tough game," said Mass-Boston head coach Brendan Eygabroat. "Both starting pitchers did extremely well. Dan [Mantoni] threw like an ace, like he has been doing for three years. We are waiting for our sticks to arrive in Wisconsin. We have not swung the bats like we are capable of. Now that we got the first win out of the way, we can start swinging the bats like we did in the last two tournaments."
|Dan Mantoni was firing on all cylinders for eight innings for Mass-Boston.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Brady Furdon went the first seven for Wheaton (Mass.) and left with the game tied 2-2.
"I want to say how proud I am about our team," said Wheaton head coach Eric Podbelski. "I think we played pretty good baseball the last two days and faced two outstanding teams. It came down to a run or two in both games. You have to make a few things happen, make your own breaks and we did not do that."
Pitching dominated the game as Mantoni dueled Wheaton's Brady Furdon for the first seen innings.
"Wheaton is a tough opponent," said Mantoni. "All you can do is get ahead and into advantage counts. They were a little bit aggressive and helped keep my pitch count down. All you can do is throw strikes and hope your defense makes the plays."
"Brady [Furdon] was outstanding," said Podbelski. "He had a battle and he was going to keep us in the game."
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the ninth and just as Mass-Boston could not get the insurance run across the plate, Wheaton was unable to score the equalizer. Wheaton's Tyler Walsh almost provided a dramatic moment in the ninth when his long drive down the left field line hooked foul.
"At that point it was not desperation but you're as excited as you can be if you might have a chance to tie the game," said Zach Goodwin-Boyd of the missed home run.
"No way this is happening," said Fowler. "No way it can stay fair. It went foul, so good for us."
Wheaton opened the scoring with an unearned run in the first inning. Josh LaJoie opened the inning with a ball the second baseman misplayed. Matt Cook reached on a fielder's choice and stole his sixth base of the season. Goodwin-Boyd singled to right-center to drive in Cook.
Mass-Boston knotted the score at 1-1 with small ball. Chris Fowler was hit by Furdon. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and a Luke Nagle single to right put runners on the corner. Anthony Searles bunted the offering by Furdon and almost beat the throw but instead was credited with an RBI sacrifice.
Wheaton and Mass-Boston traded runs to be tied 2-2 midway through the game. Wheaton's Chris Ruocco opened the third with a double and was moved station to station using the sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly. Mass-Boston only needed one swing of the bat as Fowler homered with one out in the fourth inning.
"I faced the pitcher (Furdon) before," said Fowler. "I was at Wheaton in my freshman year and had a couple of at-bats against him in fall ball. I had an idea what his approach was. Once I got into an advantage count 1-0, I was looking for a pitch to drive and found it."
Mantoni earned the win for the Beacons. He finished the day with eight innings, allowing two runs, one earned. He allowed eight hits and a walk to go along with two strikeouts. He was lifted after a lead off single in the ninth for Bryan Kaufman who earned the save by retiring the three batters he faced.
Furdon started the game for the Lyons and allowed two runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks in 7.0 innings. He struck out four batters. Joe Bongiovanni relieved Furdon in the eighth inning and was charged with the loss. He allowed one earned run on two hits and three walks in 1.1 innings. Paul McGeehan finished up with the final two-thirds.
Frosceno led the Beacons batters with two hits. Fowler, Herzog and Searles has an RBI for Mass Boston. Wheaton's Walsh and Ruocco both has two hits with RBIs credited to Cook and Goodwin-Boyd.
Mass Boston advances to play the winner of the North Central-Cal Lutheran contest later tonight. Wheaton ends its season with a 27-17 record.