Courtesy Trinity Sports Information
GRAND CHUTE, Wis. – Junior RHP Jordan Jaehne-Llanas allowed seven hits, five walks, and an unearned run with nine strikeouts in eight-plus innings, and senior 1B John Lequia totaled five RBI, including a grand slam to lead the Carthage College Red Men to a 10-1 win over the defending NCAA Champion Trinity College Bantams in an elimination game of the NCAA Baseball Championship Saturday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium. Trinity closes its season at 33-7, bowing out in the Division III World Series in two games for the third time.
The Bantams had won all seven of its post-season games to reach the tournament, and were looking to become the first team in 20 years to repeat as NCAA Division III National Champions. Carthage improves to 37-8 and will play the loser of this evening’s game between Kean and Wooster.
“It was anybody’s game through six-and-a-half innings and we had our chances but just couldn’t get it done;” said Trinity Head Coach Bill Decker. “We gave a good effort, and we have to tip our hats to Carthage. They hung in there and then took advantage of their opportunity when it came.”
Carthage broke open a 1-0 game in the bottom of the seventh inning, when Lequia hit the first pitch by Bantam freshman lefty reliever James Ramsey (Belmont, Mass.) over the right field wall just inside the foul pole for a grand slam. Freshman 2B Tyler Eickenmeyer (Kenosha, Wisc.) had opened the inning with a single and junior SS Joe Ferro (Romeoville, Ill.) reached first when Trinity junior 1B Kent Graham (Longmeadow, Mass.) mishandled his sacrifice bunt attempt. Trinity junior left-handed starter Derek Anderson (Great Falls, Va.) hit the next batter, and was replaced after allowing just four hits but three runs and three walks with three strikeouts in six innings of work. Trinity junior RHP Conor O’Sullivan-Pierce (Cambridge, Mass.) did his job, getting a ground ball to third that sophomore Kevin Collins (Easton, Conn.) fielded cleanly and quickly fired home for the first out, before Lecquia drove home the first four of what became a eight-run inning for the Red Men.
“That was the hardest 10-1 win I’ve ever been involved with in baseball,” said Carthage Head Coach Augie Schmidt. “Our pitcher’s ability to work out of pressure situations kept us in the game until we were able to come though offensively with a big inning.”
Anderson had worked four scoreless innings to start the game, extending his streak of innings pitched without allowing a run to 13 in a row, before Carthage went ahead, 1-0, on a walk, an unsuccessful fielder’s choice on a sacrifice bunt attempt, an infield hit, and an RBI groundout by Lequia. Bantam sophomore SS Robert Martin (Lowell, Mass.) recorded a the third out on a nice play up the middle with runners on second and third, stretching to snare the bouncing ball behind the second base bag and twirling around before firing to first base.
Trinity threatened to score in the four separate innings, while the game was still very much up for grabs, starting with the second frame that began with a walk by Graham who advanced to second on a Carthage error. Bantam sophomore DH Kevin Mortimer (Spencer, Mass.) came through with a one-out single to right and Graham held up at third, but the throw home from the outfield traveled far toward the first base dugout prompting Trinity senior co-captain 2B Ryan Piacentini (Portland, Maine) to take off for third. With two runners on third, Graham was tagged out, and Jaehne-Llanas recorded the final out on a ground ball.
Trinity loaded the bases with two outs in the third on singles by Collins and senior co-captain C Sean Killeen (Greenfield, Mass.) and another Carthage error, but Jaehne-LLanas fanned Trinity junior OF James Wood (Windham, N.H.) to keep the game scoreless. An infield hit by Martin, a fielder’s choice and a single to right field by sophomore OF Alex Rokicki (Truro, Mass.) put runners on first and third with one out in the fourth frame, but Jaehne-Llanas worked out of trouble with a strikeout and a groundout on the next two batters. In the Bantam half of the seventh frame, junior OF Jack Abbott (Longmeadow, Mass.) reached second on a two-base error by Eickmeyer, and the bases eventually loaded up on an infield single by Rokicki and a walk by Killeen. Jaehne-Llanas escaped once again, inducing a pop-up to Eickmeyer by Graham for the third out.
The Bantams ruined the shutout in the eighth inning when Wood led with a single and scored on Carthage’s fourth error of the game, but Trinity left 11 runners on base in this game and 20 in its two losses. Rokicki finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI for the Bantam offense, while Eickmeyer and Ferro each had two hits and Ferro added a pair of RBI for the Red Men. Wood was Trinity’s top hitter in the tournament with four hits in nine at-bats, a double, two runs, and two RBI.
“This is a sour moment for those guys who were here last year, but I don’t think it takes anything away from what they accomplished last spring,” added Coach Decker, whose team became the third straight defending champion to lose its first two games in this tournament (Marietta in 2007 and Kean in 2008).