2013 NCAA II Baseball National Finals - Game 10: No. 4 St. Edward's Defeats No. 7 Grand Canyon 9-5
St. Edward's built a seven-run lead in the first two innings and closer A.J. Rataic shut the door on a comeback attempt as the nationally fourth-ranked Hilltoppers defeated No. 7 Grand Canyon 9-5 in an elimination game in 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 win, St. Edward's (44-17) takes on unbeaten Minnesota State Thursday at 7 p.m. After winning its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament elimination game Tuesday, Grand Canyon (40-19) is eliminated from the championship.
St. Edward's jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Nate Bobrowski's rbi-single and Wes Koenig's pinch-hit two-run single. Hilltopper pitcher Brad Nasis, who started in Tuesday's loss against Tampa, was listed as designated hitter on the original starting lineup as a substitution strategy. The left-handed hitting Koenig was brought in against Grand Canyon right-hander Coley Burns (7-3).
A throwing error on Kevin Mayo's sacrifice attempt ignited four-run second inning for St. Edward's. Ransom LaLonde added a bases loaded bloop single to shallow right-center and C.J. Manning capped the inning with a two-run single through the left side to extend the Hilltoppers' lead to 7-0.
Grand Canyon reliever Trent Wilson took over with one out in the second and got a double play ball to end the inning. Wilson went four innings and held St. Edward's to one run, striking out three. Brandon Bonilla struck out three in 1 1/3 innings to help slow down the Hilltoppers.
The Antelopes got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth as Brandon Smith doubled in a run with nobody out after Michael Pomeroy and Derek Mendoza led off the inning with singles. But St. Edward's starter Collin Sherrod (6-1) retired the side on two groundouts and a flyout.
Pomeroy singled in a run in the top of the fifth for Grand Canyon, but St. Edward's answered in the bottom of the fifth on A.J. Hermanson's rbi-single to give the Hilltoppers an 8-2 lead.
Grand Canyon threatened in the top of the sixth as the Antelopes sandwiched singles by Steven Swingle and Kyle Raidy around a fielding error to load the bases. After a visit to the mound, Sherrod stayed in the game and Sherrod ended the rally with a groundout to first.
Grand Canyon clawed back into the game with three runs in top of the seventh as Paul Panaccione drew a leadoff walk and Pomeroy singled. After a pitching change, back-to-back walks brought in a run. Rataic took over and Charles Wagner greeted him with an rbi-single. Chris Lindmark drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to pull the Antelopes within 8-5.
St. Edward's added an insurance run in the eighth and Rataic retired the side in order in the ninth after escaping a two-out jam in the eighth. Rataic earned his 11th save of the season.
Grand Canyon was outhit by only a 14-12 margin, but the Antelopes left 12 runners on base. Wednesday's contest was the second meeting between the two teams in the National Finals. St. Edward's defeated Grand Canyon 1-0 Sunday in the opening round.
St. Edward's needs to defeat Minnesota State both Thursday and Friday to advance to Saturday's championship game.