The Webster University baseball team began its quest for a second straight Central Regional championship with a 7-6 win over Ripon College (Wis.) on Wednesday, May 15 in Moline, Ill.
The Gorloks, seeded first in the six-team Central Regional, fell behind 4-0 to the sixth-seeded Ripon Red Hawks. Ripon scored three runs on four hits in the top of the second inning, then added another run in the third.
But in the bottom of the third, Webster’s offense came to life. Ryan Hall, Cody Stevenson, Corey Lasky, Taylor Stoulp and Mike Rainbolt each singled before Ripon left-hander Patrick Van Daalwyk recorded an out in the inning. After the five successive singles, Webster trailed 4-2.
Then, with the bases loaded and no one out, senior designated hitter Alex Kazmierski hit a grand slam to left field to put the Gorloks on top, 6-4. Webster totaled 8 hits in the inning and batted around the lineup, but left three men on base after Kazmierski’s home run.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Gorloks padded their lead on an RBI single by Kazmierski. The score remained 7-4 until the top of the seventh inning. Webster starter Isaac Behme, a left-handed sophomore, walked the leadoff hitter and allowed a single to Dakotah Kirchenwitz.
Senior Ryan Martinez relieved Behme and set the next three batters down in order. Nick Hughes scored on a sacrifice fly, though, to cut into Webster’s lead, 7-5.
In the top of the eighth, back-to-back errors by the Gorloks allowed Ripon to score again. Webster committed 4 errors in the game. With runners on first and second and one out, senior closer Jason Gray was summoned. Gray picked off Nate Siudak at first base and induced Hughes into a groundout to end the threat.
In the ninth, Gray got the first two Red Hawk hitters out before walking and hitting the next two batters. With the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first, Gray got Adam Grambow to fly out to right field to end the game.
Gray earned the save, his fifth, and lowered his ERA to 0.36. He has allowed only 1 earned run this season in 24 2/3 innings pitched (20 appearances). Behme got the win and is now 9-3 on the season.
Kazmierski had 5 RBIs in the game on 2 hits. Lasky, Stoulp, Rainbolt and Hall each had 2 hits in the contest. Webster banged out 12 hits total compared to Ripon’s 8.
With the victory, the Gorloks advance to the winner’s bracket of the Central Regional. Webster will play the loser of the Augustana College vs. Concordia-Chicago game, which takes place at 7 p.m. on May 15. Augustana (Ill.), the No. 3 seed, is 32-9 overall and the host of the Central Regional. Concordia-Chicago (36-5) is seeded fourth.
Webster will play either Augustana or Concordia-Chicago on Thursday, May 16 at 3:30 p.m. in Moline. The Gorloks beat Augustana 9-4 earlier this season. Webster did not face Concordia-Chicago.
With the win over Ripon, the Gorloks improved to 33-9. Webster is ranked 12th nationally in the most recent D3Baseball.com poll. The Red Hawks fell to 24-15 with the loss.
The winner of the double-elimination Central Regional will be one of eight teams to advance to the College World Series. Last year, Webster won the Central Regional and finished fifth in the CWS.
To view the Webster-Ripon box score, click HERE.
For more Central Regional information, click HERE.
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