Gorloks Edge Cougars for 1-0 Advantage in Super Regional

More news about: Concordia-Chicago

May 24, 2019 - Prior to this NCAA III Baseball Super Regional, one of eight across the country this weekend, many observers predicted that the series between Webster University and host Concordia University Chicago would be decided with pitching and defense. At least for day one, those predictions rang true, as Webster pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh and held on for a 4-3 victory at Cougar Field in River Forest.

The pitching matchup today pitted CUC's Adam Gregory against WU's Sean Beaver, both of who were familiar with the opposing lineups as the teams met three times during the regular season. Beaver breezed through the top of the first inning, but the Gorloks used a couple of long at-bats and made Gregory work in the bottom of the first. They did not score then, but they got the jump on the Cougars in the second inning. A.J. Smith led off with a perfect bunt toward third base for a hit. Singles by Kyler Kent and Kellen Quigley loaded the bases. and Joe Swanson then made it four straight hits, punching one into left field for a 1-0 lead. Matt Staker then lifted a fly ball to center field. The throw home was not in time to nail the runner, and the other runners moved up on the play. That would prove important, because Quigley then scored on a second sacrifice fly by Danny Strohm for a 3-0 Gorloks' lead.

Beaver would keep CUC at bay through five innings, limiting the Cougars to three singles. However, in the top of the sixth, Matt Fauth led off with his second hit of the day. The Cougars then resorted to consecutive bunt singles by Jose Mercado and Keegan Tyrell, and when the throw to first on Tyrell's bunt was wild, Fauth came across with the first run for the Cougars. Bryan Van Duser followed with a single to center, scoring Mercado and sending Tyrell to third. Brody Mariotti was next up, and he hit a very high fly to deep center that appeared as if it was headed to Division Street for a CUC lead, but a swirling wind kept the ball in the yard; Mariotti would settle for a sacrifice fly, as Tyrell scored to knot the game at 3-3.

The deciding run came when Staker hit the first pitch in the seventh down the line for a double. Strohm moved him over to third with a bunt and got the bonus when he beat the throw to first. Back at the top of the order, Aron Hopp hit a grounder to shortstop. The force was made at second, but the relay was not in time to get the speedy Hopp as Staker crossed the plate.

With two outs in the eighth, CUC looked to get even as Mariotti found the gap in right-center for a double. Connor Brandon, who came into the game fourth in Division III with 64 RBIs, was given an intentional pass to first base, and Webster went to the bullpen for Adrian Santiago. The Gorloks' closer got down to business, striking out Mateo Calle to end the threat. Santiago then retired the Cougars 1-2-3 in the ninth on two grounders to third with a strikeout in-between to put game one into the Gorloks' ledger.

Game two is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday. If CUC wins, game three will follow 45 minutes later to determine which team will head to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the College World Series (May 31-June 5)