CARY, N.C.—Lynn (Fla.) has been crowned the D-II College World Series champion after defeating Emporia State (Kansas) 2-1 in a classic pitchers’ duel.
Lynn ace Dan Wright, a junior who transferred from Palm Beach (Fla.) CC before this season, was staked to a 2-1 lead in the third inning, and that was all the support he needed. Wright fired seven innings and allowed only one run on six hits. He fanned four batters and walked three.
The ace, coming off a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.35 ERA and struck out 115 batters in 115 innings, cruised after a shaky first inning, when Emporia plated its only run.
After walking back-to-back batters to load the bases with one out, Emporia’s Kellen Lane—Thursday night’s hero—strode to the plate. He scorched a line drive back to Wright that deflected off his arm. Wright was not injured on the play and was able to compose himself and throw out Lane at first base. Conner Crumbliss scored on the play, leaving runners at second and third with two outs.
"I was just trying to get out of the inning with as minimal damage as possible," Wright said.
And that he did. Wright masterfully spun six more shutout innings and even retired eight straight batters at one point.
"We just couldn’t get the big hit," said Emporia center field Conner Crumbliss.
Emporia State’s sidewinding righthander Ben Graham put together a valiant performance of his own by tossing eight innings, striking out 10, and issuing only one free pass. Lynn scrapped together a run each in the second and third innings before Graham, a junior from Holden, Mo., would go on to retire 10 straight batters and cruise through five more shutout innings.
First baseman Chris Chavez drove in Lynn’s first run of the day with a line drive single down the right-field line off of Graham in the second inning. Senior shortstop Chad Crowe tacked on the last run of the day with a sacrifice fly to left field in the third inning to score Paddy Matera.
Emporia had runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth inning when manager Rudy Garbalosa visited Wright on the mound as the entire infield surrounded them. This would be Emporia’s last good chance to tie the game. Second baseman Jacob White took a Wright pitch to the opposite field and Lynn right fielder Jason Ten Eyck came scurrying in to make a diving play, which preserved the 2-1 lead. The baseball was almost jarred loose when Ten Eyck made contact with the ground, but he managed to hold on.
Righthander Tommy Kahnle, who has made 13 starts and six relief appearance to go along with four saves, came on in relief for the Fighting Knights in the eighth inning, and he shut the door with a perfect two-inning save.
Kahnle recorded 12 shutout innings during the College World Series and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament for his efforts. Rudy Garbalosa said he couldn’t be more pleased with Kahnle’s versatily.
"Tommy was a starter all year for us," Garbalosa said. "Now he’s taken the reliever role and run with it. It’s a blessing now. He has the stuff to be a closer and a starter."
Emporia State manager Bob Fornelli was proud of all his team accomplished this season.
"These guys have nothing to hang their heads about," Fornelli said. "We had an incredible year. This was a great baseball game. Two to one games are always good."