Pitching rules early in Series opener, offense late

By Jim Dixon

Cedar Rapids - In the opening day of the 20121 D-III World Series, It looked like a classic pitching duel early but a six run eighth for Washington University proved to be the difference as Washington defeated Johns Hopkins 9-3.

Washington broke a 3-3 tie with six runs, all with two outs, in the bottom of the eighth. It started with Zac Styka moving into a pitch but instead of a record setting sixth hit batter by Peter Schaefer, the pitch was ruled a third strike. Bo Anderson started the two out rally with a single and when Schaefer walked Collin Kahal, the day was over for Schaefer in favor of Brian Linton. Hunter Goldberg's pop up eluded capture and the bases were loaded for Tim Van Kirk. Van Kirk ripped a triple to left center, clearing the bases and scored on a Henry Singer single. Caleb Durbin's home run to left finished the scoring. All Washington needed was to have their closer, Jared Fong, shut the door on the hopes of a Johns Hopkins victory.

"Overall we stayed the course," said Washington head coach Pat Bloom. "Tim came up like he did all season."

"I was looking for a double," said Van Kirk. "I saw the outfielder bobble the ball and went to third."

The trailing runner in the fifth tried to score but the left fielder's throw was on target and upon review, Tim Van Kirk was ruled out, ending the inning.
photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

Pitchers were ruling the day early. Both teams got runners on base early, with Washington with the greater threat with runners on second and third, one out in the first. WashU's Ryan Loutos and JHU's Schaefer pitched around the danger, keeping the game scoreless through four.

Loutos's first big test came in the fourth. A single to second that pulled the first baseman off the bag and a walk gave the Blue Jays runners on first and second with two outs. James Ingram hit a bullet to the third baseman who beat the runner to the bag ending the threat.

WashU broke through in the fifth for two. Kahal singled to center and on a perfectly timed hit-and-run, moved to third with Goldberg on second.  Van Kirk was hit by a pitch loading up the sacks. A sacrifice by Henry Singer brought home the first run. Durbin singled to left to bring one more to the plate but the trailing runner was out at home. Bloom challenged the call but the call stood with Van Kirk out at the plate.

JHU rallied to tie the game in the seventh. Jack Pausic singled through the left side. Dai Dai Otaka sent a drive down the right field line and the outfielder dove for the ball. He missed the catch as Pausic scored and Otaka cruised into third. Matthew Ritchie doubled down the right field line and Otaka jogged home to tied the game 2-2.

Washington responded in the bottom half of the inning. Two hit batters and an infield single loaded the bases with one out. Durbin hit into a double play but the officials went to review and Durbin was ruled safe at first with Goldberg scoring the Bears third run of the game.

In the eighth, the Blue Jays tied the game again. Two singles sandwiched a hit batter, bringing up David Harding. His sacrifice fly to center was deep enough to score Austin Sacks for a 3-3 tie.

Fong earned the win for Washington and Schaefer took the loss. Durbin's three hits led the bears and his four RBIs led all hitters. AJ King had his third career three hit game in the D-III World Series to lead the Blue Jays.

WashU and JHU next opponents will be determined with the results of the second game in bracket one. Adrian takes on St. Thomas with the losing teams matching up tomorrow at 10 am followed by the winners.