A Rainy Day in Cary…

CARY, N.C.—West Chester (Pa.) and UC San Diego were two of the highest-ranked teams in Division II entering the World Series. However, they both dropped their first game in the Series and came into Tuesday’s game with one guaranteed to go home.

For UC San Diego it was especially bittersweet as it was appearing in their its Division II World Series in the school’s history. West Chester had appeared in the 2006 series and went 1-2 before going home, and the Tritons had to sweat it out to hold on for an 8-6 victory, staving off elimination.

UC San Diego got plenty of offense, including a big, and questionable, error on West Chester shortstop Nick Spisak in the third inning that scored two runners. UC San Diego centerfielder Robert Sedin hit a hard shot back through the middle that Spisak got over to, but it took a very big hop and he was unable to glove it.

UCSD put its survival in the hands of a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior righthander Matt Rossman. Rossman, a transfer from UC Riverside, looked impressive on the mound with a smooth motion, good fastball and excellent command.

West Chester got its first run on leftfielder Kevin McGrath’s seventh homer of the year, a long shot that cleared the left field fence with ease at the the USA Baseball Training Complex. McGrath’s homer was quickly followed by a 36-minute rain delay. A steady light rain fell for the rest of the contest.

Rossman relied heavily on a superb defense that made just about every play as he struck out just two hitters and allowed only three hits heading into the ninth. Rossman was rolling right along, getting two outs in the ninth inning before the wheels came off. One out away from a win, Rossman allowed two sharp singles and walked a batter to load the bases. Second baseman Joe Wendle singled in one run and UC San Diego went to the bullpen.

The Tritons brought in righthander Ryland MacFadyen, who quickly gave up a long grand slam to right-center by substitute third baseman Matt Baer, who had accounted for Rossman’s only two strikeouts in the game. MacFadyen then got McGrath to ground out, hanging on to win.