North Central Advances to Central Region Championship

More news about: North Central (Ill.)

Contact: Drew Sauer, Assistant Sports Information Director, 630-637-5324

Box Score

SAUGET, Ill. (May 20, 2017) –
 Continuing to play their best ball late in the season, the North Central College baseball team blanked 6th-ranked Birmingham Southern College, 5-0 behind a dazzling performance from Russell Hoh on the mound, advancing to tomorrow's 2017 NCAA Division III Central Region Championship.

With the win, the Cardinals are the lone unbeaten team left in the regional and will need to be defeated twice in tomorrow's championship.  North Central (28-16) has now won 13 of the last 14 games, while the Cardinal pitching staff has been tremendous over the first three days of regional play, posting a combined 1.00 ERA while holding the opposition to a .210 average, striking out 13 while surrendering just three walks.

Hoh was marvelous over his nine innings on Saturday, keeping the Birmingham Southern batters off balance all afternoon, scattering five hits, all singles, while striking out five and walking just one on 104 pitches in a one hour and 55 minute contest.  Additionally, Hoh did not allow a runner past first base over the final seven innings.

North Central took a 1-0 lead after just one pitch in the top of the first, as Michael Mateja missed a homerun by a matter of feet, legging out a triple off the left field wall on a first-pitch fastball, while the Panther defense threw the ball in the dugout on the attempt to throw out Mateja at third, allowing the first run of the game to score.  Mateja now has eight triples on the season, breaking the program's single-season record previously set by Kory Witmer in 1994.

The Cardinal offense increased the lead even further with a four spot in the top of the fifth, as John Carmody walked to lead off the inning and Sing Fong followed with a single to center.  After Colin Weilbacher advanced the pair up a base with a sacrifice bunt, Matt Sutherland reached on a throwing error to load the bases with one away.

Adam Nelson made the Panthers pay a few pitches later, lining a single up the middle to score Carmody and Fong, while Sutherland came home on another throwing error by Birmingham Southern to increase the lead 4-0.

Following a Panther pitching change, Nick Sotiros stepped to the plate with Nelson on second and two outs, delivering a RBI-single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch to cap the scoring 5-0.

Nelson finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored in his first start of the regional, while Sotiros finished 2-for-4 with a RBI.  Mateja was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored, extending his reached base streak to 39 games and his hit streak to 15 games.

North Central advances to tomorrow's championship game at noon at GCS Ballpark and will take on the winner of tonight's final game slated for 7 p.m.