D-III Championship Update: Trinity Takes Home Title

“I don’t think anyone can beat us twice in one day."

Twenty-four hours ago it was hard to argue with Trinity first baseman Kent Graham’s bold proclamation to the Hartford Courant that the Bantams couldn’t lose twice in one day to Johns Hopkins. Graham was correct, but by the end of Tuesday the previously unbeaten Bantams had been taken to the brink of elimination by a resilient Hopkins squad.

After failing to clinch the title in Tuesday’s first game, Trinity took home its first-ever D-III Baseball Championship with a 5-4 walk-off victory over Johns Hopkins in the afternoon’s deciding game.

Trinity trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth and was three outs away from watching an undefeated season unravel on a chilly Wisconsin day. With one out in the bottom half of the ninth Trinity strung together back-to-back base hits, along with a stolen base, to put runners at second and third.

Hopkins sat one out away from a national title after reliever Matt Wiegand struck out Trinity shortstop Thomas DiBendetto. Choosing not to challenge Trinity’s DH Chandler Barnard, Wiegand intentionally walked him to load the bases, setting up a potential force out at any base to seal the championship.

Wiegand walked Bantam center fielder Matt Sullivan to tie the game, bringing up senior third baseman Guy Gogliettino. Gogliettino, who entered the game late as a defensive substitution, is not regarded for his hitting, batting only .259 on the season. He came to the plate in the ninth for the first time in the World Series.

Gogliettino wouldn’t need to get a hit as Wiegand ended the championship by issuing a bases-loaded walk. James Wood came home to a mob scene at home plate, representing the championship-winning run.

The fatigue of six games in five days clearly wore on the Blue Jays as they committed five errors in the second game of the day along with a litany of baserunning mistakes in both the first and second games of the day. Hopkins third baseman Todd Emr, one of the team’s leading hitters, struggled mightily in the deciding game, going 0-for-4 along with three errors in the field. Despite that, Hopkins became the first team to beat Trinity all year and nearly won a national championship.

Trinity propelled itself to an early lead with two runs in the second, a rally keyed by Mark Sullivan’s RBI triple. The Bantams led until the top of the eighth when Hopkins center fielder Rob Pietroforte’s two-run triple gave the Blue Jays a short-lived lead. Trinity answered back in the bottom of the inning when pitch-hitter Matt Stafford singled up the middle to drive in the tying run.

Hopkins first baseman Matt Benchener put the Blue Jays back ahead in the top of the ninth with a sacrifice fly scoring Tony Margve. Wiegand came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth and take the loss, his first of the year.