The Webster University baseball team had only nine hits in its 5-3 victory over Manchester University (Ind.), but just one of those hits was not a single. The Gorloks won in a game of small ball where a well-executed bunt was of the utmost importance.
Webster’s ability to put men on base with one or no outs put Manchester in difficult fielding situations in both teams’ second game of the 2013 Division III College World Series on Saturday, May 25 in Appleton, Wis.
Webster’s first three batters reached base to load the bases in the fourth inning. The score was tied at that point and Manchester decided to keep the infield at double-play depth and concede the run. Manchester starting pitcher Kyle Konarski forced the next two Gorloks to ground balls up the middle. Both times, the runners beat out the throw to first to nullify a double play and earn an RBI.
Webster took a two-run lead that inning and only added to it with its fifth and final run scoring in the eighth frame. A run that inning scored because the Manchester Spartans kept their infield back.
Webster’s speed seemed to pressure the Spartans into making defensive mistakes. In the sixth inning, junior left fielder Corey Lasky first reached on an infield single and moved to second on a throwing error by second baseman Trevor Kimm. Lasky moved over to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield and then a wild pitch brought him across home plate to give Webster a 4-2 lead.
“(Lasky, Cody Stevenson and Ryan Hall) draw some focus and they take bases that other guys can’t,” Webster coach Bill Kurich said. “We can advance without a base hit or double and … they run so well when they’re on base.”
Speed and solid hitting out of Hall in the No. 9 spot gave Webster an advantage and sparked the game-tying run in the third. Hall, a junior shortstop, first singled through the left side of the infield then stole second. Lead-off hitter Cody Stevenson placed a ball just inside third base to double home Hall.
“Coach would say up and down we are the guys that manufacture runs,” Stevenson said. “We get on and nine times out of 10 we are gonna score.”
JOSH SELLMEYER INTERVIEWS COACH BILL KURICH AFTER THE GAME
Hall has hit out of the 9 spot in every game for Webster in the College World Series and Central Regional. Since the start of the Regional, Hall is batting .326.
Webster’s second game of the World Series against Manchester had an eerily similar feel to the Gorloks’ first game against Kean University (N.J.) on Friday, May 24. Both of Webster’s starting pitchers — Steven Dooley against Kean and Behme vs. Manchester — walked the first batter they faced. At the plate, the Gorloks went down 1-2-3 with two strikeouts in the top of the first.
The Gorloks continued to struggle defensively, as their defense has plagued them throughout the 2013 postseason. In the bottom of the first with runners on the corners, a would-be double-play grounder went straight into the glove of junior second baseman Taylor Stoulp. He bobbled it and all runners were safe, as the runner on third scored for the first run of the game.
Webster had three errors on the day.
“The defense was a bit sloppy today,” Stevenson said.” But we’ll work on those things and once we get out of that we’ll be fine and start to play our game.”
JOSH SELLMEYER INTERVIEWS CODY STEVENSON AFTER THE GAME
The Gorloks are still a loss away from elimination and will be for the remainder of the tournament. Next, Webster plays on Sunday, May 26 at noon against the loser of the University of Southern Maine and Linfield College (Ore.).
—Josh Sellmeyer contributed to this article.
Read more about Isaac Behme’s complete-game performance by clicking HERE.
Keep up with The Journal’s sports coverage by following us on Twitter @WUJournalSports.