WOOSTER, Ohio – For the second time in three days, The College of Wooster and Allegheny College split a North Coast Athletic Conference East Division doubleheader, with the visiting Gators taking Tuesday's opener 4-1 and the Fighting Scots outscoring them 9-8 in the second at Art Murray Field, resulting in a tie for second-place finish with each other in the division.
With all other tiebreakers being equal, a coin toss was performed at the conference office to determine the team to advance on to this week's NCAC Tournament, and Wooster (23-15, 11-5 NCAC East) was the fortunate one.
Having dropped the opener, the Scots were in a must-win situation, and after falling behind momentarily in the top of the first, they tied it in the bottom of the inning and never trailed again, producing an answer to every rally from Allegheny (18-20, 11-5 NCAC East).
Wooster scored twice during the second, as Frank Vance drew a leadoff walk, promptly took second on a wild pitch, and came home on back-to-back groundouts. With two outs, Jarrod Mancine, John McLain, and Eddie Reese strung together three-straight singles for a 3-1 lead.
The Scots extended it to 5-1 in the fifth inning. McLain cracked a leadoff double to left-center, advanced to third on a deep fly out by Reese, and scored on a Billy Farrow sacrifice fly. More two-out magic came in the form of four consecutive singles, with the fourth off the bat of Cal Thomay plating Johnathan Ray.
After a double play erased a leadoff single in the top of the sixth, the Gators created some two-out magic of their own with five-straight hits, including a Mike Kastelic RBI double, followed by a two-run single by pinch hitter Zach Gray.
That made it 5-5, but the tie didn't last long, as Bryan Miller hit the first pitch of Wooster's half of the sixth off the wall in left for a double and then Mancine dropped a single into right-center. He stole second and they both eventually scored to go ahead 7-5.
The runs continued to come across in the seventh. Allegheny's first two batters reached via a walk and hit by pitch, which resulted in the Scots bringing ace Josh Stidham on in relief. The Gators were able to even it via a sacrifice bunt and Eric Hansen's two-run single.
Again, Wooster quickly erased the tie. Jake Zeek opened the home half of the seventh with a single and Vance followed suit, however, Zeek was gunned down at third base. Having gone to second on the throw, Vance trotted to third on a wild pitch during a four-pitch walk to Thomay and scored when Allegheny's drawn-in first baseman couldn't handle Miller's grounder. That also allowed pinch runner Ryan Miner to get to third and he added what proved to be a valuable insurance run as Mancine's sacrifice fly put the score at 9-7.
The Gators scratched out one run in the eighth inning, but Stidham set them down in order in the ninth to force the coin flip.
Stidham picked up his second win of the series, having started and won game one on Sunday, and sixth of the season (6-2), yielding the one run on two hits during 3.0 innings of work.
McLain, making just his fourth career start, paced the Scots' offense during game two with a 3-for-5 outing, while the freshman shortstop was joined by Mancine (2-for-4), Reese (2-for-4), Zeek (2-for-4), and Vance (2-for-3) with multi-hit efforts.
The story of game one was the pitching of Kyle Davis. Allegheny's starter had also started and thrown 146 pitches during Sunday's nightcap, but he came back and tossed a complete-game win while adding 96 to his pitch count over the last three days.
Wooster's offense only threatened Davis in the seventh. Reese took first base via a hit by pitch on a 3-2 count, then Ray and Farrow each ripped singles, with Farrow's plating Reese. The tying run would come to the plate three times, but Davis induced a hard line-out, an infield pop-up, and a grounder to short for his second victory of the series.
The Gators' offense steadily recorded single tallies in the first, second, fifth, and sixth innings off of Steve Hagen, who threw a quality start. Three of the runs were earned on seven hits and Hagen went all seven innings for his third complete game.
The Scots will kick off the NCAC Tournament versus No. 23 ranked DePauw University (30-10), the first-place team from the NCAC West Division, on Thursday at 4 p.m. The three-day tourney will take place at V.A. Stadium in Chillicothe, Ohio.