CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The Chapman University baseball team advanced to the winner's bracket of the 2019 NCAA Division III National Championship with a 6-3 win over Washington & Jefferson earlier this evening. Sophomore Mack Cheli stepped up as the designated hitter, knocking in two RBIs on 2-for-3 hitting.
After a scoreless two innings from senior starting pitcher Jonathan Hernandez, the Panthers scored their first run in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Henry Zeisler hit a leadoff single to start the early rally. With runners on second and third, Cheli stepped up and singled up the middle to score Zeisler and give Chapman a 1-0 cushion.
Hernandez allowed just one runner on in the top of the third but struck out the last batter to put the Panthers back on offense. With one out, senior Alex Tsuruda doubled down the left field line to put a runner in scoring position. Freshman Brad Shimabuku entered the batter's box and blasted a triple to deep right field, scoring Tsuruda and adding one run. Senior Tristan Kevitch then singled to right field, scoring Shimabuku from third and giving Chapman a 3-0 lead after three innings.
Hernandez retired the side in the fourth and produced a scoreless inning in the fifth. The Presidents scored their sole three runs of the game in the top of the sixth. With runners on second and third and one out, senior James Artale doubles to left field, scoring both runners. With runners on the corners after a single, sophomore Joey Bolick hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game 3-3 heading into the sixth inning.
The Panthers swiftly answered, taking back the lead in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs and Kevitch on third, Cheli knocked in his second RBI of the game to give Chapman a one-run lead with three innings left to play.
Hernandez retired the side in the top of the seventh to bring the Panthers back up to the plate. After a scoreless seventh, Chapman blew open the game in the bottom of the eighth, scoring two more runs to take the final 6-3 lead. Senior Jarod Penniman knocked in the first run for his sole RBI of the game, followed by an RBI-double to left field from junior Aaron Wong for the sixth and final run.
Hernandez earned his eighth win of the season and continued to stay perfect with an 8-0 record this season. Sophomore Cody Turner came in to relieve in the eighth, pitching a lights-out inning in which he retired the side with two strikeouts and a groundout to shortstop in just X pitches.
Zeisler came up clutch in the first game, hitting 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Shimabuku hit .500 with an RBI and a run scored. Four of the Panthers' 12 hits came as extra base hits.
Chapman enters the winner's bracket and plays tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. CT against the winner of Webster and the University of Massachusetts Boston.
by Katie Bell
Sports Information Assistant