Division III Championship: Final Day

St. Thomas (Minn.) and Marietta (Ohio) will meet in a Division III tournament elimination game today at noon, with a berth in this afternoon’s championship game against Wheaton (Mass.) at stake.

Either the Tommies or Pioneers will have to win twice today to take home a national title after rain washed out much of the action on Saturday at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis. Wheaton advanced to the title game, scheduled for 3 p.m. today, by winning the winner’s bracket.

St. Thomas earned a spot in the first game today by beating Cortland (N.Y.) State, 7-6, yesterday afternoon. Marietta earned its spot last night with 6-5, 10-inning victory over Wheaton, which was already assured a berth in the final.

The defending-champion Pioneers rallied from a 3-1 deficit after five innings against Wheaton. Marietta loaded the bases in the sixth and cut the lead to 3-2 on a fielder’s choice. Marietta freshman left fielder Mitch Geers was hit by a pitch (his fourth in the tournament) to load the bases again. Junior first baseman Evan Brockmeier provided a two-RBI single that gave Marietta a 4-3 lead.

Wheaton responded in the top half of the seventh inning though when junior shortstop Eric Jensen tied the game with an RBI double, followed by a two-out single by senior third baseman Dan Haugh to put Wheaton ahead 5-4. The Pioneers evened the score in the seventh after junior outfielder Aaron Hopper’s RBI single.

Wheaton left two runners on base in the top of the 10th inning and Marietta took advantage in their half of the inning, loading the bases and bringing senior shortstop Tim Saunders to the plate. Wheaton relief man Ben Johnson fell behind in the count and Saunders eventually drew the walk, allowing Zach Bukiewicz to score the game-winning run. Tuesday’s loss was the first for Wheaton in this tournament.

Semifinal Preview

The semifinal matchup between St. Thomas and Marietta today looks to be a good one, and perhaps a high-scoring affair. St. Thomas has hit throughout the tournament and have registered at least 10 hits in each of their four games. Nobody has been hotter than freshman center fielder Jack Hogan, who has nine hits and five RBIs in the tournament. Senior first baseman Dan Reichert has banged out eight hits, including a four-hit performance in the Tommies’ loss to Wheaton on Monday.

Defending national champion Marietta has scored a tournament-high 31 runs and has been led by Geers, who has eight hits in four games. Brockmeier has also been solid in the middle of Marietta’s order with seven hits. Marietta ace Austin Blaski tossed 6 1/3 innings in yesterday’s win over Wheaton and is unlikely to see action today.