W&J Claims Wild, 13-Inning Affair; Remains Alive In NCAA Tournament
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – After doubling in the go-ahead run, junior right fielder Josh Staniscia (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional) sped home from second base on a ground out with what proved to be the winning run as fifth-seeded Washington & Jefferson staved off elimination from the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional with an 8-7 victory over No. 3 Wooster in 13 innings at Art Nehf Field Friday.
W&J (32-12) and Wooster went to extra innings tied 6-6 and the score remained that same way until the top of the 13th inning when Staniscia doubled home junior first baseman D.J. Michalski (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) with one out. Staniscia then provided the Presidents with an insurance run as he flew home from second base on junior catcher Ronny Peirish’s (Wexford, Pa./Pine-Richland) ground out to first.
Wooster (33-12), the North Coast Athletic Conference champion, struck for a run in the bottom of the frame and brought the potential game-winning run to the plate, but junior right hander Marc Rizzo (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) struck out Brendan Taylor to end the game. Rizzo earned his first victory of the spring as he pitched the final three innings, allowing one earned run on two hits, while striking out two.
Sophomore right hander Tyler Dean (Valencia, Pa./Mars) started the game on the mound and surrendered four runs (three earned) on nine hits, while striking out five. Four W&J relievers combined to allow three earned runs and strike out two in eight innings of work.
“Even though some of those guys didn’t get a lot of innings this year, they deserved the opportunity to get out there. They are always prepared to play if called on,” said W&J Head Coach Jeff Mountain, whose teams have eliminated Wooster from the Mideast Regional in back-to-back years.
The Presidents and Fighting Scots entered the bottom of the seventh inning tied 2-2, but Wooster plated three runs to pull in front.
With two runners on base and two outs in the top of the eighth, freshman shortstop Michael Ruffing (Brunswick, Ohio/St. Ignatius) reached on a fielding error that extended the inning. The Presidents took advantage of the miscue as senior second baseman Scott Liller (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) cleared the bases with a long double to left, tying the game at five. Michalski followed with an RBI single up the middle, helping W&J reclaim the lead.
Wooster immediately responded during the bottom of the inning as Eddie Reese’s fourth hit of the game, a single to center, plated Jarrod Mancine.
The Fighting Scots threatened to walk off with a victory in the ninth with three hits, but junior Derek McIlvaine (Washington, Pa./Chartiers-Houston) made a perfect throw home from left field after a single to cut down a runner trying to score, ending the inning.
“We fought and scrapped all day. Wooster is a good team and they kept battling us,” added Mountain. “We capitalized on a mistake in the eighth inning which is something that good teams do.”
Liller collected three hits (two doubles) and drove in four runs, while scoring twice, to pace the Presidents. Staniscia added a pair of hits and knocked in two, while McIlvaine scored twice and recorded a pair of assists from the outfield, both on runners attempting to score.
W&J advances to face the winner of the No. 4 Illinois Wesleyan-No. 6 Thomas More game, with first pitch tentatively scheduled for 8:00 pm Friday night. The Presidents defeated the Titans in their regional opener 5-3 and own three wins in five games against the Saints this spring.