Linfield beats University of Southern Maine for NCAA Division III baseball title

Posted May 28, 2013, at 5:38 p.m.
Last modified May 28, 2013, at 11:03 p.m.

APPLETON, Wis. — The University of Southern Maine Huskies’ record-breaking season came to an end Tuesday as Linfield College sophomore right-hander Chris Haddeland (held them to one run on eight hits as the Wildcats defeated the Huskies, 4-1, to win the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium.

The Huskies, making their seventh trip to the national championship tournament, ended the season with a school record 46 wins, breaking the previous mark of 39 set by the 1997 team, and a final mark of 46-10. The Huskies advanced to the national championship game by beating Ithaca College 5-4 in 13 innings earlier in the day.

Haddeland survived a shaky first inning when he surrendered the only run the Huskies would put on the board. He got out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth inning, and the Huskies did not advance a runner past first base over the final five innings. The first team All-American struck out five and finished the season with a 15-1 record.

Southern Maine sophomore Andrew Richards, who was the winner in the game against Ithaca after hurling 12 innings in relief, started the title game and cruised through the first three innings before surrendering four runs (three earned) in the bottom of the fourth. Richards allowed four hits, one walk and hit three while striking out one to take the loss. He finished the season with an 11-3 record.

The Huskies jumped on Haddeland for a run in the top of the first as freshman Sam Dexter opened the game with a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third on a single by junior John Careyand would score on a wild pitch. Haddeland walked senior Tucker White to give USM first and second with no outs before bearing down to strike out the next two hitters and getting the third out on a grounder to third.

The Wildcats scored all their runs in the fourth inning. Junior Nick Fisher opened the inning with a double to left center. After a foul out, junior Kramer Lindell singled to move Fisher to third. Junior Clayton Truex lashed a single to center field that USM junior Forrest Chadwick just missed making a diving catch on bringing Fisher home with the first run. Lindell and Truex moved up an extra base when Chadwick’s throw to the plate got away.

Richards intentionally passed senior Jordan Harlow to load the bases. Senior Kyle Chamberlain laid down a bunt single to plate Lindell with the go ahead run, and Richards hit senior Michael Hopp with a pitch to force in another run and end Richards’ remarkable day.

Junior southpaw Logan Carman came on in relief of Richards to induce a potential inning-ending double play ball. Carman got the first out at home, but the relay throw to first got away allowing Chamberlain to score the fourth run. Carman got the final out on a popout, but the damage was done.

USM senior Nick Grady was the lone batter for either team to record two hits.

In the first game, Chris Bernard delivered the game-winning run with a triple in the top of the 13th as USM advanced to the title contest with a 5-4 win over Ithaca College.

Ithaca wound up at 41-8.

USM junior Forrest Chadwick opened the 13th inning with a double down the right-field line. After a groundout, Bernard blasted the first pitch he saw from sophomore Jimmy Wagner over the left-field wall for an apparent two-run homer. Bernard was called out on appeal for missing home plate, leaving the Huskies with a one-run margin.

Ithaca loaded the bases in the home half of the inning on a leadoff infield hit by sophomore Christian Brown, an infield error and a one-out single through the right side by junior Colby Gee.

Richards, who came on in relief of freshman starter Shyler Scates in the second inning, got the second out with a strikeout. Richards then induced a fly ball to right field by sophomore Max Addy for the final out. Richards threw 152 pitches, 102 for strikes, and gave up two runs on 12 hits and four walks while fanning two. With 12 innings pitched, Richards set a school record for innings pitched (100.2) with a game to play.

The Bombers took a 2-0 lead scoring single runs in the first and second innings. Brown led off the game with a single against Scates, and junior Tim Locastro drove home Brown with a double to left-center field. Scates escaped further damage in the inning as junior Chadwick threw out Locastro at the plate trying to score on Gee’s single to center field.

Ithaca picked up its second run in the next inning when sophomore Matt Connolly singled and moved to third on a single by junior Luke Stark that ended Scates’ day. Senior Andrew Turner lifted a sacrifice fly to right field off Richards to score Connolly.

USM equalized with a pair of runs in its half of the third inning. Junior Troy Thibodeau doubled to lead off, moved to third on a groundout and scored on freshman Dexter’s sacrifice fly to right field. The Huskies strung together three straight singles by junior Carey, senior Tucker White and Chadwick to get their second run.

The Bombers reassumed the lead in the fourth as Connolly drew a leadoff walk and came around to score on a double to center field by Stark.

White and Grady singled to put runners at the corners in the sixth inning. Bernard lifted a sac fly to right bringing White home with the tying run.

Southern Maine took a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth when junior Matt Verrier scored on a two-out single by Dexter.

The Huskies were a strike away from moving to the championship game, but Strak dropped his fourth hit of the day into right field, scoring senior Corey Caswell from second base just ahead of Thibodeau’s throw.

Southern Maine tried to capture some two-out lightning in the 11th inning as Verrier and Thibodeau stroked singles. Senior Anthony Pisani hit a single to right field, but Brown gunned down Verrier trying to score for the final out.

White and Thibodeau led the Huskies’ 15-hit attack with three hits each. Stark and Gee had four hits apiece, and Caswell and Brown had three for the Bombers. Wagner pitched the final five innings, allowing two runs on eight hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out two. It was the first loss of the season for Wagner after eight victories.

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