Presidents Drop NCAA Tournament Game To Manchester 4-2
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Fifth-seeded Washington & Jefferson had numerous opportunities to score, but left 14 runners on base and dropped a 4-2 decision to top-seeded Manchester in the NCAA Division III Baseball Mideast Regional at Art Nehf Field on the campus of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Thursday.
W&J (31-12) had seemingly grabbed momentum after Manchester (37-5-1) failed to plate a run despite its first three runners reaching base in the top of the inning. Junior right hander Brian O’Neill (Columbus, Ohio/St. Charles Prep) hit the first two batters of the game and then issued a walk; however, he forced Jordan Niemann to pop up to second and struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
The Presidents loaded the bases with one out in the first, but managed only one run on junior third baseman Kyle McLain’s (East Amherst, N.Y./Canisius) RBI groundout.
“It’s not what happened during the late innings, but early in the game when Manchester is conceding runs and you don’t cash in. That’s what comes back to haunt you,” said 11th-year Head Coach Jeff Mountain, a five-time Presidents' Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
Senior second baseman Scott Liller (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) doubled the Presidents’ lead in the second as he reached on an error that allowed junior left fielder Derek McIlvaine (Washington, Pa./Chariters-Houston) to score.
Manchester fought back to knot the game 2-2 with a pair of third-inning runs. Cody Schell was issued a bases-loaded walk and Kyle Norris’ sacrifice fly knocked in a second score. The Spartans took the lead for good in the fifth behind sacrifice flies from Niemann and Trevor Kimm.
W&J put at least one runner on base during all nine innings, but was unable to muster more than two runs. The Presidents left two men on base five different times.
Liller and McLain paced the Presidents with two hits and one RBI each. Liller also made numerous dazzling plays at second base to aid the W&J defense.
O’Neill saw his record drop to 6-3 after allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits, while striking out four and issuing four walks in five innings of work. Sophomore left hander Jared Baird (East Freedom, Pa./Central) went the final four frames, surrendering just one hit.
Kyle Konarski earned the win for the Spartans as he gave up two earned runs on six hits in five innings. Konarski remained unbeaten (10-0) this spring, while Bryce Murphy collected his 11th save after completing the last four innings.
W&J faces Wooster in an elimination game on Friday at 10:00 am. The Presidents and Fighting Scots met last season in a Mideast Regional elimination game, a contest won by W&J 8-0 on Eddie Nogay's (Weirton, W.Va./Madonna) shutout.