By Pat Coleman
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Mass-Boston jumped on top of Chapman early and cruised all the way until the ninth inning as the Beacons advanced to the Bracket 1 final, defeating the Panthers 10-6.
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Chapman returns to Perfect Game Field at 10 a.m. CT Sunday morning to face Washington & Jefferson. The winner of that game advances to play Mass-Boston later Sunday afternoon, in a game scheduled for 4:30 p.m. local time.
|Charlie Huegi slid in with a second-inning run on a safety squeeze by Josh Lopez.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
The Panthers got on the board with one in the top of the first, but Mass-Boston answered with one in the bottom, five in the second and three in the third to chase Chapman starter Tyler Peck (7-4). Peck is a first-team D3baseball.com All-America selection.
Nine players came to the plate for the Beacons in the second, as Mass-Boston loaded the bases with nobody out. Nick Cotraro singled up the middle to start the inning, followed by walks to the No. 7 and No. 8 hitters in the lineup, Ryan McCormick and Nico Kydes. Charlie Huegi, who was UMB’s big bat in the month of May, came to the plate for the first time in June and smacked the ball back through the box. Peck was able to knock it down, but threw it away, allowing two runs to score. Nick Herzog brought in a third run with an RBI groundout, and Josh Lopez followed with a perfectly executed safety squeeze, bringing Huelgi in to make it 5-1.
“Peck is a first-team All-American, he’s a really good pitcher, so I knew we were going to be in for a battle today,” said Beacons coach Brendan Eygabroat. “We were fortunate to get a couple of big hits when we needed it, we took some walks, put down a good safety squeeze by Josh to get some momentum going, and I thought we took some good swings.”
With Lopez on first, Kyle Boudrias came up for his second plate appearance in as many innings, and he uncorked a double to right off a Peck fastball, bringing Lopez home and increase the Beacons’ lead to 9-2.
“Small ball helps a lot, and then once you get a big swing off it just blows it open,” said Boudrias.
“Any time, especially with Peck, you’re just a strikeout away (of getting out of the inning),” Chapman coach Scott Laverty said. “Even with the bases loaded, a strikeout-double play, or a strikeout-fly ball, you get out of it maybe only giving up one run or two.”
Chapman had strung together three consecutive singles to get the scoring started in the top of the first, as Brad Shimabuku singled to left, Tristan Kevitch bounced a ball up the middle and Henry Zeisler followed with a single into center to bring Shimabuku around. UMB answered, however, as Boudrias walked with two outs in the bottom of the first and the Beacons immediately capitalized. Riley doubled to the wall in right-center, bringing Boudrias in to score.
Chapman got one back in the top of the third as Joe Jimenez smacked a single past Riley at third base. That brought in Tristan Kevitch, who had been hit by a pitch, advanced on a wild pitch and a fly ball to center. The Panthers proceeded to load the bases against Dylan Fashempour but the Beacons were able to escape when Drew Littwin flew out to center.
But then the game settled into cruise control mode. Chapman finally scratched out a third run in the sixth inning on a hit by pitch and a pair of singles, then added another in the seventh when Henry Zeisler scored from second on a single to left by Mack Cheli.
|Eddie Riley put the bat on the ball a few times on Saturday.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
All that was made possible because some little-used members of the Panthers bullpen came up big. Austin Merrill entered the day with just 10.1 innings under his belt, and he and Mitchell Briggs (1.1 previous innings), Kyle Joye (3.0) combined for four and one-third innings of scoreless ball in the middle innings, allowing Chapman to chip away.
It was a clutch set of performances, said Laverty, “especially for guys, because our pitching being so strong, haven’t had that many outings. For them to come in and do those things in this setting is tremendous.”
The Panthers added two runs in the ninth and had the tying run in the on-deck circle, forcing the Beacons to bring in their closer, Bobby Tramondozzi, for a second consecutive day of action. But he got leadoff hitter Alex Tsuruda to ground to second, ending the game.
“This loss doesn’t mean that we’re out,” Chapman coach Scott Laverty said. “So we still have to think about playing games tomorrow, so we’re battling both those things, trying to win that game, but also trying to keep ourselves in the best position to continue to move forward.”
Lopez finished the day 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored for Mass-Boston (37-12), while Eddie Riley went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Dylan Fashempour battled through five innings of work with the big lead to get the win, improving to 8-2. Cheli finished 3-for-5 for Chapman (39-12), while Zeisler and Brad Shimabuku added two hits and an RBI apiece.