By Jim Dixon
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Drew Littwin took ball four with the bases loaded to break a 4-4 tie and Aaron Wong followed up with a single that was misplayed into three more runs, giving Chapman an 8-4 win over previously unbeaten Mass Boston in the 2019 Division III World Series bracket one final. Chapman's win forces a winner-take-all game on Monday at noon to decide which team moves on to the best-of-three Championship Series that will start on Tuesday.
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Henry Zeisler started the rally with one out in the inning. Batting .688 for the series, he singled to left off Mass Boston closer Bobbie Tramondoz. Following a second out, Tramondoz proceeded to walk the next three batters with Littwin's walk proving to be the winning run. Wong followed with a single to left that gave the Panther's two insurance runs. The leftfielder misplayed the ball, allowing one more run to cross the plate.
"My swing feels good and I am seeing the ball well," said Zeisler.
"I knew if I came up, we would have the lead," said Wong. "I was looking to do some damage. As soon as I got to two strikes, I knew I can't be late on the fastball. I put my foot down and saw it and I put a good swing on the ball."
|Drew Littwin looks like he just won the game for Chapman with his bases-loaded walk in the 10th. That's for good reason.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
"Every game has been good," said Chapman head coach Scott Laverty. "Every team is battling, every team competing. UMass got us yesterday. We continued to compete and get into extra innings and finally pushed runs through."
"At the end of the day, they got the runs late when they needed them," said Mass Boston head coach Brendan Eygabroat.
Chapman opened the scoring with two quick runs in the first. Alex Tsuruda walked and moved up on Brad Shimabuku's single to right. Tristan Kevitch took Mass Boston starting pitcher Ben Gottesman to right center. Rounding first base he stumbled but slid in to second before the ball was returned to the infield. Both Tsuruda and Shinabuku scored on Kevitch's hit.
"I had been patient the past couple months, seeing a lot of pitches," said Kevitch. "I decided to be more aggressive on the first pitch. I saw the first pitch fastball on the outside corner, hit it and got it into the gap."
Mass Boston got one back right away. Josh Lopez smashed a shot that ricocheted off the third baseman to the shortstop, Jerod Penniman, Penniman skipped the throw to first, allowing Lopez to reach second. Kyle Boudrias singled through the right side of the infield to score Lopez.
In the third and fourth innings, Chapman added single runs to push their lead to 4-1. Shimabuku reached on an error by the third baseman, scoring on Joe Jimenez double to left center in the third. In the fourth, Littwin and Wong reached on safeties. Wong was erased on an attempted double play but when the ball sailed past the first baseman, Littwin scored Chapman's fourth run.
The Beacons added a single run in the fourth. Danny Brown's grounder to third was dropped by the pitcher covering the bag. Brown took second on a groundout and third on a wild pitch. Nico Kydes' line drive dropped into left, allowing Brown to reach home.
Mass Boston knotted the score in the sixth inning. Eddie Riley doubled to open the inning and was plated when Ryan McCormick followed with a shot through the left side of the infield. A balk moved McCormick to scoring position and three batters later was crossing home plate on Kydes' single.
"We got behind a little bit early but clawed our way back," said Eygacroat. "I thought Bennie [Gottesman] kept us in the game. It was not his sharpest outing early as he was jacked up, but settled in for us."
Mass Boston had a chance to win the game in the seventh, with runners on second and third with one out. Two strikeouts by Cody Turner ended the threat and the Beacons never was able to mount another.
"We had a chance in that seventh inning," said Eygabroat. "We struck out back-to-back when you really needed to put a ball in play hard right there and put some pressure on their defense."
"Cody threw four innings in the first game," said Laverty. "We just wanted to get one. This was the spot to hold them and put up a zero. This gave us a momentum lift to hold us. We knew we were going to Garcia again. That perks everyone up and we knew all we got to do is get one."
The first of the two strikeouts in the seventh was also the 503rd for the Chapman pitching staff this year, breaking the season record set by North Carolina Wesleyan in 1998. Chapman finished the game with 507 strikeouts.