2013 NCAA II National Finals - Game 12: No. 2 Minnesota State Defeats No. 4 St. Edward's 6-5
Minnesota State pitcher Jason Hoppe broke the Division II record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched, while catcher Nolan Johnson prevented two runs defensively and drove in what proved to be the winning run in the seventh inning as the nationally second-ranked Mavericks withstood a ninth-inning rally for a 6-5 victory over No. 4 St. Edward's in the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Thursday 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.
The win keeps Minnesota State (42-8) unbeaten in the tournament and advances the Mavericks to the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. Minnesota State will face the winner of Friday's elimination game between Grand Valley State and Tampa. St. Edward's (44-18) is eliminated and finishes fourth in the championship.
With the score tied 4-4, Parker Sullivan led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to right and Lucas Skjefte followed with an infield single. Connor McCallum sacrificed the runners into scoring position and Johnson drove a 2-1 pitch to center for a two-run single to put Minnesota State on top 6-4.
Minnesota State reliever Nick Sutherland (5-2), who took over for Hoppe in the sixth inning, got a strikeout and a double play ball in the top of the eighth. Sutherland allowed a single to right by Cutter Runte to open the ninth inning. Mahlon Zimmerman took over on the mound and Ransom LaLonde sent a 3-2 pitch through the left side to give the Hilltoppers runners on first and second with nobody out.
Taylor Johnson's pinch-hit sacrifice advanced the runners and Sutherland scored from third on Nate Bobrowski's grounder to the right side as Minnesota State's infield played back and conceded the run. Zimmerman ended the Hilltoppers' rally with a flyout to shallow right to pick up his 11th save of the season and send the Mavericks to the championship game.
Hoppe, who tossed a shutout Saturday in the Mavericks' first round win over Grand Valley State, entered Thursday's contest with 52 consecutive scoreless innings, two innings off the Division II record. Hoppe tied the record with two shutout innings and became the sole record holder after opening the third inning with a strikeout.
St. Edward's ended Hoppe's streak in the top of the fourth as C.J. Manning led off with a single and Wes Koenig singled Manning to third after a sacrifice. Dylan Watts lined an 0-2 pitch to center for an rbi-single to drive in Manning with the first run allowed by Hoppe since April 7. The run tied the game 1-1.
Hoppe's record-setting scoreless streak ended at 55 1/3 innings. Kyle Jones of SIU-Edwardsville set the previous record of 54 consecutive scoreless innings in 2006.
One inning earlier, Johnson kept Hoppe's streak alive when he prevented a run on a double steal attempt. With Bobrowski on third, Kevin Mayo drew a two-out walk to put runners on the corners for St. Edward's. Mayo broke from first and Johnson faked a throw to second, drawing Bobrowski off third. Johnson tagged Bobrowski well short of the plate on a 2-5-2 putout.
Minnesota State broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the third on McCallum's one-out rbi-double after singles by Todd Standish and Skjefte. St. Edward's third baseman Watts brought the inning to an abrupt end, catching a line drive and diving to the bag for an inning-ending double play.
After St. Edward's snapped Hoppe's streak, the two teams started matching each other run-for-run.
The Mavericks regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Stetson Olson led off with a home run over the right field fence, his ninth of the year. Taylor Branstad drew a walk to chase Hilltoppers starter Paul Smith. Reliever Matt Davis struck out the next batter and ended the inning on a strikeout/throw out double play as Manning gunned down Branstad at second from behind the plate on a pitch that was in the dirt.
St. Edward's had success on a second double steal attempt in the top of the fifth as Joe Pirozzolo was hit by a pitch and LaLonde singled with one out. Both runners took off and Pirozzolo scored when the throw to third went down the left field line as the Hilltoppers tied the game 2-2.
Minnesota State regained the lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth. Skjefte drove in a run with a double to the warning track in left-center and scored from third on Johnson's single through the right side to give the Mavericks a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth, the Hilltoppers loaded the bases with nobody out on a walk, a single and an error on a slow bouncer to the mound. Sutherland came in and struck out the first batter he faced, but hit the next batter on a 1-2 pitch to bring in a run. Runte singled through the right side to drive in Watts with the tying run, but Minnesota State right fielder Scott Lindner threw Mayo out at the plate. Lindner's throw was up the third base line, but Johnson reached behind and made the tag to keep the score knotted at 4-4. All four runs were charged to Hoppe, three earned.
Sutherland went on to keep St. Edward's scoreless over the next two innings.
Minnesota State, which finished third in last year's tournament, advances to the championship game for the first time in school history. The Mavericks came within one win of reaching last year's title game, falling to Delta State in the semifinal round by an identical 6-5 score.
Grand Valley State defeated previously tournament unbeaten Tampa 4-0 to force another game Friday. First pitch is 6 p.m.
"That was a great game, I think, between two very good teams. They remind me so much of our team with the ability to run bases. They have a great catcher behind the plate. Their pitching staff did a great job keeping our guys off balance all night. Those games are fun to play in. This is what we practice for. It's back and forth like the whole tournament has been, and you wouldn't expect anything else."
Minnesota State head coach Matt Magers
"It felt great today. He (Hoppe) has carried us through the last
two months of the season, and to get him out of some jams and give
him some run support, it felt really good."
Minnesota State third baseman Connor McCallum