For the Webster University baseball team, the chance to advance to their third straight Division III College World Series is over. Despite an eighth-inning rally that saw the Gorloks erase a two run deficit, Webster fell to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology after 11 innings in an NCAA Regional elimination game, 3-2. Webster had entered the tournament ranked number one in the country. Head Baseball Coach Bill Kurich reflected on his team’s defeat.
“Obviously it’s not what we expected,” Kurich said. “It’s just a terrible way to end a great season. That’s the most disappointing thing, is that we had such a great year, and it was just two days where we didn’t hit the ball the way we did all year.”
Down by two runs, Webster mounted a comeback in the eighth inning courtesy of a single from senior shortstop Taylor Stoulp that scored two runners and tied the game.
However, Webster ultimately fell short three innings later when Rose-Hulman loaded the bases with no outs, and Designated Hitter Warren Whithaus singled to center field to seal the walk-off victory for Rose-Hulman.
Prior to that point, Webster pitcher Dylan Dean Smith had thrown 4.2 scoreless innings in relief of starter Chris Jansen.
An Historic Season Cut Short
Webster lost their first two games in the NCAA Tournament, as they were defeated Wednesday May 14 by Depauw University as well. The first round of the NCAA Tournament, or “regionals” consists of groups of four teams that play a double elimination tournament. The winners of the eight regionals then advance to the College World Series. Because Webster lost two games in the regional, they have been officially eliminated and their season is over.
The Gorloks lost the game against Depauw 2-1, despite the fact that they took a first inning lead. However, Depauw’s starting pitcher Jack Peck then shut Webster out over the next eight innings, as the number one squad failed to add to their advantage. Kurich praised both Rose-Hulman and Depauw, especially for their pitching. And though he acknowledged that they both “deserved to win” the results were still disappointing.
“About halfway through the season, I knew that if we didn’t win the College World Series, we were gonna be disappointed,” Kurich said. “It was going to be more of a disappointment and there were greater expectations.”
This season, the Gorloks claimed an undefeated St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title (their fifth straight), posted an overall record of 37-7 and achieved a school-first number one national ranking in the NCAA division-III baseball rankings.
But there will not be a national title to accompany these achievements.
“In terms of a season and a team that showed up to play, practice and work every single day, this is the greatest season we’ve had as a program—it didn’t have the greatest ending,” Kurich said.
Rose-Hulman is 27-17 and will continue play in the regional. Despite the disappointment of the loss, Kurich is already focused on the future, and he has a strong feeling about Webster’s chances in the coming years.
“The returning guys will learn from this and come back, and they’ll find themselves in the same spot (the playoffs) whether it be next year, or the year after, or the year after. We’ll be back, without any question in my mind,” Kurich said.