The setting and maybe the uniforms helped Southern Indiana feel at home to pull out a 1-0 win over Angelo State on Monday in the second day of the NCAA Division II Championships.
The Eagles, who won NCAA Division II titles here at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in 2010 and 2014, are wearing new uniforms and caps this season modeled after the USA Baseball national teams.
With the victory, Southern Indiana (38-20) eliminated Angelo State (39-22) of Texas. The Eagles remained alive for another elimination game on Wednesday against Cal Poly Pomona (41-18). Pomona dropped into the consolation round with an 11-3 loss to Millersville. The win earned Millersville (52-5), a school near Lancaster, Pa., an extra day off until Thursday.
Tuesday’s games in the eight-team event have been moved up to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. because of rain forecasts. Franklin Pierce (48-8), a New Hampshire school, faces Central Missouri (42-14) in the opener. The second game pairs Nova Southeastern (40-16) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Lander (43-14) of Greenwood, S.C.
In Southern Indiana’s decisive ninth, senior right fielder Kyle Kempf said experience helped him coax a walk to lead off and score from third base.
“I remember in the 2014 championship game, I was in the same situation,” said Kempf, who is projected as a late-round draft pick. “I knew I had to get on base. I crowded the plate and wasn’t going to swing unless it was a good pitch.”
He walked on a 3-2 count and was a veteran on the base paths. With a hit-and-run called, Kempf had a big jump on Sam Griggs’ sharply hit ball to shortstop Paxton DeLaGarza. As Kempf entered his slide, DeLaGarza hurried his flip out of the glove for an error. Kempf advanced to third as the ball rolled free.
After Ryan Bertram was intentionally walked to load the bases, Kempf scored on sophomore left fielder Drake Martinez’s walk-off single.
“It was a fastball,” said Martinez, “and I was able to get my hands through.”
Angelo State’s Matt Shannon worked a one-hitter until the eighth when the Eagles singled twice yet failed to score. Southern Indiana’s Lucas Barnett (8-5) picked up the win with a complete-game five-hitter.
In the nightcap, Millersville struck early despite Pomona senior left-hander Max Bethell (10-4) starting with a postseason scoreless streak of 22 1/3 innings – 8 1/3 in last year’s Division II Championships and 14 in 2016.
Millersville scored two in the first, one in the second and one in the third. Bethell walked three, hit a batter and allowed five hits and four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
In the first, the first two batters, Tyler Orris and Chas McCormick, walked. Mitch Stoltzfus followed with an RBI sacrifice fly ball to right field to score Orris. His cousin Dan Stoltzfus, who was 3-of-4 with four RBIs and two runs scored, cracked a double to right field to score McCormick.
“They (early runs) meant a lot,” said Dan Stoltzfuz. “Getting runs early, you can relax a little bit. Your confidence goes up, and hitting is easier.”
Millersville led 6-0 before Pomona scored three unearned runs in the eighth. But the Marauders responded with five in the bottom half. The eighth inning and top of the ninth were played in rain that was increasing in intensity.
▪ Southern Indiana is 14-3 in NCAA tournament and regional elimination games in 10 seasons under head coach Tracy Archuleta.
▪ The umpires wore camouflage caps with their blue shirts and gray pants in honor of Memorial Day.
▪ Dan Stoltzfus’ three doubles gave him his 24th of the season to break the school record of 23 set by Jon Shehan, who is now the head coach.
▪ The tournament continues daily through Saturday’s championship game.