Story courtesy of Trinity Sports Information
APPLETON, Wisc. - The Trinity baseball team has advanced to the NCAA Division III World Series finals for the first time in Tigers history.
"I'm so proud of this ball club," said Head Coach Tim Scannell. "The mental toughness, the grit and determination, and the will to win are what it takes against a team like the defending national champs. Hats off to Connor Moore - what a wizard at shortstop. He is a human highlight reel. It was also a great outing by Teddy Turner. We needed the poise and leadership of a senior, and he delivered big time. Finally, what can you say about Andrew Hoffman? For a freshman to handle the pressure at the back end of this game, it's just amazing, and he's been doing it all year."
That historic moment occurred Monday as Trinity defeated the defending national champion State University of New York at Cortland 5-2 in the Pool A Championship game. The Tigers (42-7) will play in the best-of-three games finals starting Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium, against either Keystone College or La Roche College, both of which are located in Pennsylvania. Playing times will be determined, depending on the outcome of tonight’s matchup between the two teams. SUNY Cortland completed its season with a 43-8 record.
Trinity’s 18th-year Head Coach Tim Scannell posted his 600th career victory as the Tiger skipper. Monday’s game also marked the 15th consecutive win for the Tigers this season.
"You know, we want two more," said Coach Scannell when asked about his milestone victory at the postgame press conference. "All these wins come from so many kids in the history of our program. We really feel like we are here on the shoulders of past teams, past players, past parents. The support we have as a program is phenomenal. It's very humbling, but this win today is humbling. In terms of wins that you accumulate as a coach, I don't think any of us care anything about them. It's because this guy is a great player (pointing to Connor Moore), and this kid just pitched a great game (pointing to Andrew Hoffman)."
Trinity started with runs in the first and second innings to take a 2-0 lead early in today's game, but Cortland rallied with a two-run fourth to tie it. In that inning, the Tigers also threw a runner out at home that would have put the Red Dragons ahead at the time.
In the sixth, Carter McEachern knocked in Drew Butler to put the Tigers back in front 3-2, and then Trinity added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth to go up 5-2. Butler knocked in Connor Moore in the seventh, and Brody Fehmel scored Jose Santos in the eighth.
Teddy Turner was the starting pitcher for the Tigers, and had 5.2 innings of mound duty. Turner allowed only one hit through the first three innings, retiring seven Red Dragons in a row. He struck out four players and picked up the victory, and is now sporting a 7-2 record. Turner was replaced by Andrew Hoffman in the sixth. The left-hander pitched 3.1 innings of shutout baseball, and chalked up his fifth save of the campaign.
The sixth and seventh innings were particularly crucial for the Tigers, as they forced Cortland to leave the bases loaded in each inning. Following a two-out single and a walk, Hoffman entered the game for Turner, but walked the next hitter to load the bases. The freshman then knocked down a line drive back at him to throw out the batter at first, and end the threat. The next inning may have turned the game around, as Cortland again loaded the bases with two outs, taking advantage of two more walks and a single. This time it was the "wizardry" of Moore that saved the day, though, as the shortstop bounded into left field to snare a line drive that would have tied the game.
SUNY Cortland gave it one more shot in the ninth. A two-out walk was followed by a double to left field, but the Tiger defense threw out another runner at the plate to end the game. Jeremy Wolf and Moore combined for the throw to Butler, who applied the game-ending tag at the plate.
Andrew Waters batted 3-3, including a double, while Moore was 2-5 with a double and a triple, and also scored two runs. Nick Jewett also collected a pair of hits to extend his hitting streak to 17 games.
Last season, the Tigers came within one game of advancing to the finals series. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse prevailed in the semifinals, in Trinity’s first trip to the DIII World Series. The Tigers shut out UW-La Crosse to open this year's championship round on Friday.
"Our focus has to shift to the finals now," concluded Coach Scannell. "We need to keep our head down, and keep grinding."