By Jim Dixon
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Washington and Jefferson executed the double steal and made key pitches with a solid defensive effort to advance with a 3-2 win over Webster. The Gorloks were eliminated from the 2019 Division III World Series opening game in day two action at Perfect Game field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
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The Gorloks are fundamentally sound," said W&J head coach Jeff Mountain. "We know when you play a team like that, you have to equal them in execution. The key to the game was our defense. We recorded three strikeouts and had to earn 24 more outs, to play errorless baseball."
|The Presidents got an early lead and rode the arm of Nick Drake (pictured), Michael Zito, and Clay Martin to advance to Sunday.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
Washington and Jefferson put on a rarely used play with Mullen Socha at first and Justin Griffin on third. When the Gorlok catcher threw the ball offline, Griffin scampered home with what proved to be the winning tally.
"It is a play we practice a lot," said W&J second baseman Socha. "We don't use it much in games. It is exciting to get a chance to run a play you don't run often. We executed it well."
"Our coach told us not to get caught by the pump fake," said Griffin, the W&J catcher. "I took an aggressive lead. Sometimes you got to put pressure on them to force a throw down to third."
After shutting down Webster to start the game, W&J wasted no time getting on the board. Dante Dalesandro walked and Socha singled up the middle. Two outs later, it looked like they might be stranded but Adam Moore dropped a single into center for a 2-0 lead.
Webster responded in the top of the second. AJ Smith opened the inning with a ball that split the outfielders on the right side for a triple. Kyler Kent single bounced past the first baseman, plating Smith. A wild pitch set Kent up in scoring position and a Joe Swanson base knock to center brought home Kent, getting the Gorloks even on the day.
The Presidents quickly got one run back without the benefit of a hit. Griffin walked and moved to second on a successful sacrifice by Shayne Erny. Dalesandro fly ball to the warning track moved Griffin to third. Socha walked and on an attempt to steal second, the Webster catcher threw off the mark to his third baseman, allowing Griffin to score.
Both teams settled in, putting up goose eggs through the end of the game. Each team had their chances to add to the score but found the clutch hit elusive.
"We had opportunities to add on and would have made the game more comfortable," said Mountain. "Our bullpen was able to hang on. It was our formula for success."
We had our opportunities," said Webster coach Bill Kurich. "We did not get the big hit when we needed to. We had our opportunities and chances."
"We felt like we were on it and hit the ball well," said Webster first baseman Kent. "If we can put it in play, something good happens. Unfortunately the ball never fell for us."
Webster's Smith led all players with three hits. Kent and Matt Staker had two hits for the Gorloks as they outhit W&J 10-4. Socha had the only multi-hit game for the Presidents. Adam Moore had W&J's two RBIs with Kent and Swanson adding one each for Webster.
Nick Drake earned his fifth win of the season. He pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs, both earned on eight hits. He did not all any walks and struckout two. Clay Martin earned the two inning save, his 12th of the season. he allowed two baserunners via a hit and a base on balls. Brendan May took the loss with three runs, two earned on three hits in four innings. He walked three.
The Presidents will face the loser of the Chapman and UMass-Boston game for a spot in the bracket one championship game.