2013 NCAA II Baseball National Finals - Game 13: No. 1 Tampa Defeats No. 14 Grand Valley State 10-1
Connor Obrachta broke out of a batting slump with a fourth-inning grand slam and starting pitcher Mike Adams tossed six scoreless innings as nationally top-ranked Tampa advanced to the Championship Game with a 10-1 victory over No. 14 Grand Valley State in the semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Finals Friday 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.
Tampa (45-13) takes on nationally second-ranked Minnesota State (42-8) Saturday at 7 p.m. in a winner-takes-all championship game. Grand Valley State (38-19), which defeated Tampa 4-0 Thursday to force a rematch Friday, finishes third in the championship.
Tampa opened the top of the fourth inning with back-to-back singles by B.J. Zimmerman and Jake Schrader. The Spartans loaded the bases with nobody out as Zach Garwych's sacrifice attempt became a bunt single when the ball refused to roll foul. Grand Valley State third baseman Stephen Claypool barehanded the ball, but Garwych beat the throw by a step.
With the infield drawn in, Grand Valley State pitcher Anthony Campanella (10-5) was able to retire the next two batters on groundouts to each corner. Claypool made a leaping grab on a bouncer to third, spun around and threw Zimmerman out at the plate. Laker first baseman Giancarlo Brugnoni threw Schrader out at home for the second out, bring up Obrochta.
Obrachta was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Thursday's game and struck out in his first at bat Friday. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Obrachta hit a high fly to left that, despite no wind, kept carrying until it went over the fence for a grand slam home run to give Tampa a 5-0 lead. The home run was Obrachta's sixth of the year. It was the fourth home run for the Spartans as a team at this year's National Finals.
After getting shut out for only the second time this season Thursday, Tampa broke a scoreless tie in the top of the second as Sean O'Brien led off with a single up the middle and advanced to third on Zimmerman's hit-and-run single down the right field line. O'Brien scored and Zimmerman went to second on Schrader's sacrifice fly to the warning track in center.
Tampa broke the game open with a five-run sixth inning, highlighted by a double steal for the first run of the inning and a two-run single by O'Brien. The Spartans have scored at least 10 runs in each of their three wins at this year's National Finals.
Adams (8-0) struck out the first two batters he faced and after allowing a two-out single to Kevin Zak, retired the next seven batters, five on groundouts to second. The streak ended on Claypool's leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth, but Adams retired the next three batters.
Grand Valley State threatened in the bottom of the fifth as Jesse Abel drew a one-out walk and Taylor Banks followed with a single. Tampa shortstop Jacob Tillotson's throw to second just barely beat Banks at second for the force and Adams got a comebacker to end the inning.
The Lakers avoided the shutout in the bottom of the ninth as Brugnoni and Matthew Schuch singled, and Brugnoni scored on a wild pitch. Four Tampa relievers combined to allow only two hits in the final three innings.
Adams struck out four, walked one and scattered five hits in only his second start of the season. Adams also made a relief appearance in the first round of the National Finals, striking out four in 2 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings.
Grand Valley State came within one win of becoming the first team since Ouachita Baptist in 2008 to reach the Championship Game after losing in the first round.
Tampa is making its eighth Championship Game appearance and seeking its sixth national title. The Spartans are the last team to win back-to-back titles, accomplishing the feat in 2006 and 2007.
Minnesota State, the lone unbeaten team in this year's National Finals, advanced to the Championship Game with a 6-5 win Thursday over St. Edward's. The Mavericks, which finished third at last year's Finals, is in the Championship Game for the first time in school history.
Saturday's contest marks the first time in 10 years that the top two nationally ranked teams are facing each other in the Championship Game. Tampa and Central Missouri entered the 2003 Championship Game as co-No. 1 in the Division II Top 30 Poll.
For the Championship Game, the double-elimination format is discontinued and Saturday's winner is the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball National Champion.
"It was a big, big grand slam by (Connor) Obrochta. He's had a great year for us and he had a tough night (Thursday) night, and this just shows the resilience of this club. They are able to bounce back and this kid is able come with the same mindset that he had every game this season.
Tampa head coach Joe Urso
"I was just trying to stay positive, I know Coach Urso and Coach Ramos had a game plan for us for every pitcher. I just tried to stick to the plan like all our hitters did, and to just stay positive and to go up there like nothing ever happened and just forget about it."
Tampa centerfielder Connor Obrochta on his grand slam home run after striking out four times in the previous game
"It's disappointing any time you lose, but we started the season 6-7 and didn't look very good. We rode out the bumps and I'm proud of where we got. We are losing six good seniors but I hope this is a good building block for the future. It's really tough to beat a team like Tampa two times in a row."
Grand Valley State head coach Jamie Detillion
"Their pitcher was good, pitched a really good game. We kept pressing, but it wasn't enough today. Guys like Campanella have carried us all year and we are proud of what our seniors accomplished and for what they did for us."
Grand Valley State second baseman Kevin Zak