(MARIETTA, Ohio) – The seventh-seeded and Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) champion Thomas More College baseball team gave head coach Jeff Hetzer a belated birthday present as it rallied to defeat sixth-seeded John Carroll University, 9-8, in 12 innings today (Friday, May 16, 2014) in an elimination game of the NCAA Division III Championship's Mideast Regional at Don Schaly Stadium in Marietta, Ohio. Coach Hetzer celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday (May 15).
With the win, the Saints improve to 24-18 and advance to play either top-seeded Marietta College or fourth-seeded Widener University in a 4:30 p.m. elimination game tomorrow. With the loss, the Blue Streaks end the season at 24-17.
Thomas More took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third when senior shortstop Tyler Graber (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) scored on a wild pitch and freshman center fielder Casey Metzger (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) scored on a suicide squeeze by junior left fielder Nick Connor (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder).
The Saints increased the lead to 3-0 in the fourth when sophomore first baseman Donovan Pogue (Sharonville, Ohio/St. Xavier) scored on a run batted-in single by junior catcher Brad Popham (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights).
John Carroll took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth as it plated four runs in the inning. The Blue Streaks added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to increase their lead to 6-3. John Carroll plated a run in the top of the eighth to extend the lead to 7-3.
The Saints tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the ninth as Metzger scored on a RBI single by senior third baseman Travis Miller (Erlanger, Ky./St. Henry), senior second baseman Jason Handley (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) scored on a sacrifice fly by senior right fielder Cody Makin (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder), junior left fielder Nick Connor (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) scored on a Kenning walk and then Miller tied the game as he scored on a John Carroll error.
The Blue Streaks scored one run in the top of the 11th to take an 8-7 lead, but the Saints tied the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the inning as Miller scored on a RBI single by freshman left fielder Thomas Baumann (Union, Ky./Ryle) to extend the game.
In the bottom of the 12th Metzger scored the game-winning run on a RBI single by Baumann.
Pogue was three-for-three with a run scored and Miller was three-for-seven with a RBI and a two runs scored to lead the Saints at the plate. Baumann was two-for-two with two RBI and freshman designated hitter Ben Kenning (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) was two-for-five with a RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Chris Auer (Cincinnati, Ohio/Elder) earned the win as he pitched three innings and gave up one run (earned) on five hits, while striking out three. Freshman pitcher Vic Newberry (Independence, Ky./Simon Kenton) started on the mound and he pitched five innings and gave up four runs (all earned) on seven hits, while striking out one and walking one. Freshman pitcher Ken Ruberg (Cincinnati, Ohio/LaSalle) pitched two innings of relief and gave up two runs (both unearned) on one hit, while walking one. Senior pitcher Andy Roenker (Taylor Mill, Ky./Holy Cross) pitched two innings of relief and gave up one run (unearned) on two hits.