NCAA Division II National Finals - Game 3: No. 1 Tampa Defeats No. 3 Coker 12-4
Top-ranked University of Tampa erupted for 16 hits – half of those for extra bases – in downing No. 3 Coker College 12-4 in an opening-round game at the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Sunday at Cary, N.C. The National Finals are co-hosted by Town of Cary and Mount Olive College at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
With the victory, the Spartans (44-11) advance to a winner's bracket contest on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The loss moves the Cobras (38-15) into an elimination game at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
Outfielder Michael Danner and third baseman Jake Schrader led the Tampa hit parade. Danner went 3-for-5, including a double and a three-run homer, and drove in four runs, while Schrader went 3-for-4, including a triple and a two-run homer. Schrader also scored three times and drove in three runs.
Coker junior Fico Kondla had two of the Cobras' five hits and drove in two runs in a losing cause.
The game was a match-up of the team with the most NCAA Tournament appearances, Tampa, against one of the three teams in this year's tournament making its first appearance in the National Finals.
The Spartans, making their 15th National Finals appearance and seeking their sixth national title, jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Danner doubled and Tyler Ding followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run that rolled just over the first-base bag and into the right-field corner for a triple.
The Cobras struck right back against Tampa starter Jon Keller (5-3). Zach Loraine drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a single through the right side by Kondla, and scored on a single to center by Ernie Kirkwood. Kondla advanced to third on the Kirkwood single, and scored on a safety squeeze bunt Frank Suarez.
However, the lead for Coker didn't last long. The Spartans went ahead for good with three runs in the bottom of the second off Cobras starter Dan Meyer (8-4), including a run on an unusual infield rbi-single by Danner. His popup in front of the plate got lost in the sun and landed in the dirt on the third base side just three feet in front of the plate as Jacob Tillotson scampered home from third.
Schrader was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame, and scored when Zach Gawrych followed with a triple to left-center. One out later, Jacob Tillotson singled to center to drive in Gawrych with the go-ahead run, then moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt at first. Two batters later, Danner hit a high popup that landed fair almost directly in front of home plate when the pitcher, catcher and third baseman all lost the ball in the sun. Tillotson raced all the way home from second on the play, giving the Spartans a 4-2 advantage.
Tampa added a single run in the fifth on an RBI single by Ding, then chased Meyer in the fifth when B.J. Zimmerman and Schrader produced back-to-back triples, followed two batters later by an Adam Pendleton sacrifice fly.
Meyer, the Southeast Regional MVP, gave up 10 hits and seven runs, six earned. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Trailing 6-2 in the sixth, Coker used two walks and a Loraine single to load the bases and end Keller's day. In 5 1/3 innings, the junior right-hander gave up four hits and four runs, walking five and striking out a pair.
Kondla greeted Tampa reliever Aaron Gerbasi with a looping single just over second base to drive in two runs and cut the Coker deficit to 7-4. With the potential tying run at the plate, the Spartans turned to the Sunshine State Conference's pitcher of the year, Mike Adams, to stop the Cobra threat.
Adams, 7-0 with six saves on the year, got a strikeout and flyball to center to end the inning, and went on to retire all eight batters he faced in the game.
The Spartans ended any thoughts of a further Coker comeback in a five-run eighth inning that included a three-run homer by Danner and a two-run blast by Schrader, the first two home runs of the Finals.
The game marked the seventh time in the last nine contests that Tampa scored in double-digits, and just the fourth time this season that Coker allowed 10 or more runs in a game.
"Offensively, I thought we set the tone early and had the double by (Michael) Danner and triple by (Tyler) Ding to jump out in front of them. Then in the second inning, we had another triple to extend the lead. I felt the key to the game was setting the tone early."
Tampa head coach Joe Urso
"It's been our thing all year. One through nine, we just click. There's not that one person we rely on, everyone has the power. It's see ball, hit ball."
Tampa third baseman Jake Schraeder on the Spartans' 16 hits, including eight for extra bases
"I didn't even know where it went at first. I looked up, saw it landed in fair territory and that (Jacob) Tillotson scored. I've never had a hit that went that little of a distance."
Tampa left fielder Michael Danner on his three-foot rbi-single in the second inning
"I know one thing that we do know how to do is grind. The score is not indicative in my mind, of how it went. And I know, I have faith, that we will come back on Tuesday and grind again like we have done all year."
Coker head coach Dave Schmotzer