CARY, N.C.—It happened in the second inning of Emporia State’s game against Mesa State in the Division II World Series: With starter Tyler Aplehans struggling, Emporia State called in the relief early after Mesa State put up two runs in the second inning.
In came the submariner. Emporia State brought in righty Ben Graham, who proceeded to torpedo Mesa State’s vaunted offense (the Mavericks are batting .383 as a team, the highest team average in the series) pitching 6 1/3 shutout innings in Emporia State’s 5-2 win. He also struck out five batters and walked just one.
Graham isn’t usually a reliever; he started 11 games this year and pitched a team-high 79 innings. Monday evening he was dealing with a nasty slider and excellent location.
But the second game of the day further scrambled the brackets, as Mesa State, the top seed in its pool, now moves to the loser’s bracket to play a rematch of its opening-round game against Belmont Abbey. Emporia State gets a break until Thursday when its plays the winner of Mesa State and Belmont Abbey.
I have to say, nobody has looked as good as Emporia State so far in the series. The Hornets put up 11 hits, and went through five Mesa State pitchers in the game. Interesting stat: Not one Emporia State batter struck out Monday.
So far in the series, both top seeds are now in the loser’s bracket. UC San Diego lost its opener to Dowling on Sunday. Phew, another full day of baseball.
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