The Wilmington University baseball team secured their fourth Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship in the past five years by coming back to defeat Chestnut Hill, 10-9, in extra innings on Saturday afternoon at Wilson Field.
The top seeded Wildcats (33-12) came into the contest with the odds in their favor, as they worked through the winner's bracket and only needed to win one game on Saturday. They squared off against the third seeded Griffins (29-14) in a rematch of the 2013 tournament finals, and having already defeated the Griffins, 13-0, in the winner's bracket on Friday. The Wildcats would need to mount a late game comeback and use a walk-off hit from backup catcher Tom Freeland to secure the victory.
The Griffins jumped out to a 6-1 lead going into the bottom of the third inning, and led 7-2 after four complete innings. The Wildcats started to chip away at the lead, scoring two in the fifth, one in in the sixth, and one in the seventh to cut the deficit to 7-6. But the real fun didn't start until the ninth inning.
The ninth inning began with the Griffins scoring two quick runs from Mike McLaughlin and Brendan Looby to give Chestnut Hill a three-run lead once again, 9-6. But the Wildcats would persevere, looking to push the game into extra innings.
Sam Goines led off the inning with a walk and Lopes knocked him in with an RBI double, chasing Goines around from first. A wild pitch scored Brendan Fallers for the 9-8 score, clearing the bases with no outs. Christian Adorno restarted the rally with a double off the fence in left, tying the game as Tory Manfre looped one into left.
It looked as though the Wildcats were going to win the game in the 11th, as Manfre sent a pitch deep enough to right with runners on the corners for a sacrifice fly. Annone was off and running on the pitch and needed to get back to first, but didn't retouch second before heading back to first. The appeal was won at second base, causing the game to continue.
As the game pursued on and reached the 12th inning the persistent Wildcats looked to leave the tournament as champions. With the bases loaded and the game hanging in the balance, Freeland would come through with a game winning single to right field and secure the 2015 CACC Championship for the Wildcats.
Feeney started the inning with a double, followed by an intentional walk to Frank Samluk had the Wildcats in business. Two outs later, Goines was walked on four pitches, loading the bases and setting up the heroics for Freeland.
On the mound today, Rob Gore was crucial as he allowed the Wildcats to hang tough with the Griffins and allow the team to come back from a five run deficit. He went through six strong innings of relief, striking out four and surrendering three runs (two earned) on four hits. Tyler Fries came away with win, improving his record to 3-1 on the season, pitching the final 3.1 innings, only giving up two hits.
With the win, Wilmington has secured their fourth CACC championship in five years and their sixth since 2007.
The Wildcats finish the tournament as an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament, which starts next Thursday. The Wildcats will determine their fate when the NCAA Division II Baseball Selection Show airs on NCAA.com on Sunday night at 10 p.m.
Press Release written by Sports Information Department Intern Jake Weitzenecker