As it has done for the majority of the season, the Webster University baseball team combined timely hitting and a mesmerizing performance by its starting pitcher to take down Birmingham-Southern College 6-1 on Friday, May 18 in Millington, Tenn. With the victory, Webster goes to 3-0 and clinches a spot in the NCAA Central Region championship.
The Birmingham-Southern Panthers came into the afternoon game against the Gorloks having won 32 of their last 34 games. They are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Central Regional tournament and are ranked sixth in Division-III baseball. The Panthers defeated Illinois Wesleyan University and Emory University to set up the showdown with Webster.
The Gorloks, however, came out ahead in the Friday game thanks to a stellar outing by junior pitcher Steven Dooley and a steady regiment of offense.
Junior center fielder Cody Stevenson singled to open the game and stole second, his 58th steal of 2012. The next batter, sophomore shortstop Taylor Stoulp, singled to score Stevenson, which put Webster up early, 1-0.
Stoulp singled once again in the top of the third, this time with two out. Junior right fielder Alex Kazmierski notched his first hit of the Regional on a 3-0 pitch to score Stoulp and put the Gorloks ahead 2-0.
Webster continued piling on the two-out runs in the top of the fourth. Sophomore second baseman Kevin Kojs drew a walk to set up Webster’s scoring. Freshman left fielder Charlie Gandolfi moved Kojs to second and got on base himself with a bunt single. Birmingham-Southern coach Jan Weisberg pulled starter Paul Caudill, a freshman lefty, and brought in sophomore Ralls Pennington.
The Panther bullpen came into the game with an ERA under 3, but Webster took advantage of its opportunities. Pennington threw a wild pitch to the next hitter, Stevenson, who eventually walked to load the bases. Kojs scored on another Pennington wild pitch to make it a 3-0 Gorlok lead.
Stoulp then recorded his third hit of the day and ninth of the tournament. It was a two-RBI single that scored Gandolfi and Stevenson to pad the lead, 5-0. Stoulp ended the day 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
The hits kept coming for Webster, as junior third baseman Mitchell Bonds started the bottom of the eighth with a single. Senior catcher Matt Moore promptly followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Bonds to second. Kojs drove in Bonds with an RBI single to make it 6-0 Gorloks. Webster loaded the bases in the ninth but failed to add on more runs.
All the while, Dooley kept the Panther hitters caged, as he pitched a complete game and surrendered just one run. Dooley allowed five hits, walked one and stuck out five. He retired 10 straight hitters at one point. The one run scored as Panthers’ first baseman Jon Walker was thrown out at third trying to stretch his RBI double into a triple. That out ended the game.
With a 3-0 record in the double-elimination tournament, Webster’s next opponent will need to beat the Gorloks twice in a row on Saturday, May 19. The first game begins at noon and the second game, if necessary, starts at 3:30 p.m.
If Webster wins either game, the Gorloks will make their first College World Series appearance in program history. The eight-team World Series begins May 25 in Appleton, Wis.
In other Central Region action, Illinois Wesleyan will face off in an elimination game against DePauw University on Friday, May 18 at 3:30 p.m. Webster whipped DePauw 10-2 on Thursday, May 17.
The winner of the Illinois Wesleyan-DePauw contest will face Birmingham-Southern in another elimination game on Friday, May 18 at 7 p.m. Whoever wins that game will face Webster. Tomorrow’s game(s) can be viewed here.
Keep checking back with The Journal for updates of Webster University baseball’s Regional action.
Click here to read about Webster’s win over DePauw University on May 19.
Click here to read how the Gorloks took down Washington University on Day 1 of the tournament.