GRAND CHUTE, Wis. - One day away from playing for the program's first-ever national championship, the No. 9 Wheaton College baseball team suffered a 6-5 loss to No. 1 Marietta College Tuesday afternoon in 10 innings at the College World Series at Fox Cities Stadium.
Junior Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) drove in two runs for the Lyons (41-10), who will face the winner of Marietta-St. Thomas contest Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. for the NCAA Division III Baseball National Championship. Senior John Keating (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) went 3-for-4 while classmate Dan Demeo (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
After the Lyons left runners on second and third in their half of the 10th, Marietta (46-8) loaded the bases in their half of the inning with one down. Freshman relief pitcher Ben Johnson (Cambridge, Mass./Carlbrook School) then fell behind 3-0 to senior Tim Saunders (Alliance, Ohio), got the count to 3-1 as Saunders took the next pitch, then threw ball four to allow sophomore Zach Bukiewicz (Minford, Ohio) to score the winning run.
Sophomore Mike McGinnis (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) started on the bump for Wheaton and allowed seven hits and four runs in 5.2 IP. He walked three and struck out three in his first action since the NCAA New England Regional on May 19. His counterpart, senior Austin Blaski (Pandora, Ohio), entered the game with a 0.87 earned run average (ERA) but surrendered eight hits and five runs in 6.1 innings. He walked two and fanned three.
Marietta took an early 1-0 lead on a bases-loaded 5-4-3 double play that brought in a runner from third. The Lyons tied the game in the fourth when freshman Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) poked a two-out single and scored on an RBI triple down the right field line off the bat of junior Dan Gusovsky (Andover, Mass./Andover).
In the fifth, the Lyons manufactured a pair of runs to go ahead 3-1. Keating and Demeo opened the frame with back-to-back singles before senior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) reached on an error to load the bases. Jensen hit a line drive to center that brought in Keating to give Wheaton a 2-1 lead, and junior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) followed with an RBI single that plated Demeo.
The Pioneers struck for three in the sixth to retake the lead at 4-3. Junior Aaron Hopper (Wheelersbury, Ohio) hit into a fielders choice which brought in the first run of the frame and make it a 3-2 game before junior Evan Brockmeier's (Marietta, Ohio) two-run single made it 4-3.
Wheaton came right back with two in the seventh on an RBI double by Jensen and an RBI single from Haugh to take a 5-4 lead. Hopper tied the game in the bottom half of the frame with an RBI single to left.
Saunders finished the day 3-for-5 while Hopper was 1-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Senior Kyle Lindquist (Columbus, Ohio) picked up the win in relief for the Pioneers as he worked two scoreless innings to improve to 3-0. Johnson, meanwhile, fell to 0-1.
Notes: As a team, the Lyons established single-season team records for at bats (1,787) and innings pitched (452) this afternoon ... Ryan (220 AB), Jensen (219 AB), and Landers (213 AB) now rank 1-2-3 in single-season at bats in program history ... Ryan, meanwhile, is No. 2 in single-season hits with 84 while De la Cruz is No. 3 with 76 hits.