Division II College World Series: West Chester 2, Catawba 1: Indians run ends
By Ryan Bisesi
CARY — Catawba coach Jim Gantt had no reason to be sullen even after his team was eliminated Thursday night.
Catawba went a long way in 2012, even though the season ended merely two hours from home.
The conclusion was a 2-1 loss to West Chester in the semifinal round of the Division II College World Series at the USA Baseball Training Complex.
Ryan Bostian doubled twice and Nick Lomascolo was exceptional again on the mound, but it didn’t overcome heartbreak in the bottom of the ninth. West Chester’s Josh Heyne lined a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded that was plenty deep enough to score pinch runner Dylan Zigman to end the game.
And the most memorable postseason in Catawba history.
“It’s not that we’re surprised to be here or anything,” Gantt said. “We just talked to them, thanking them for letting the coaches come.”
WC pitcher Fred Breidenbach matched Lomascolo, as he threw his second-career complete game and retired the side in order in the final four innings. Breidenbach, a right-handed sophomore, got the final 11 batters he faced out.
“That was the best I’ve seen him this year,” said first-year WC coach Jad Prachniak. “His best innings came at the tail-end.”
At the start of the ninth, Justin Lamborn hit a 0-1 pitch up the middle with the outfield shifted to the left. What appeared to be a seeing-eye single turned into a hustle double for the biggest hit of the game. Matt Baer came up next and popped up a bunt on the first pitch that was just out of the reach of a diving Lomascolo along the third base side.
“That bunt’s going to haunt me the rest of my life,” Lomascolo said.
After an intentional walk to Matt Kirchner loaded the bases, John Tuttle came in and allowed the sac fly as West Chester, the Atlantic Region champions, won its 11th straight.
The Indians got on the board first. Julio Zubillaga walked with one out in the fourth and went to third on Brett Underwood’s single. Greg Lawson then caught everyone off guard with a bunt single and Zubillaga scored the game’s first run. Underwood was then picked off at second and Cameron Beard grounded out.
Lomascolo resumed his brilliance from Sunday despite being on three days rest. He forced 15 flyouts and allowed six hits in eight innings. The junior ended the year with a 10-5 record.
“I managed to stick with my fastball most of the game,” Lomascolo said. “I felt like I pitched pretty well, but just didn’t get the job done.”
WC’s Mike Raimo got a leadoff double in the sixth and was bunted over to third by Jack Provine. Joe Wendle drove in the leadoff man with a sac fly to left that tied the game.
Raimo doubled with one out in the eighth but Lomascolo got Provine to pop out beside the Catawba dugout. Wendle was intentionally walked and Chris Pula flew out to right to keep it 1-1.
The Indians got a hit in each of the first three innings but couldn’t get a run in. Catawba left five on base.
“Not being able to drive in runs was the difference for us,” Gantt said. “Their pitcher did a great job.”
The Rams advanced to the final on Saturday at 7 p.m. where it will face either Delta State or Minnesota State.
South Rowan grad Bostian had three hits and stole a base in his final college game.
“It was one of those nights where we couldn’t put the runs and the hits together,” Bostian said.
Catawba ended the season 45-17 with the second-most wins in its history behind the 2006 team that won 47 games.
“It’s a very fulfilling season,” Gantt said. “The guys gave their best effort and that’s what’s fulfilling about it.”
NOTES: Gantt said after Wednesday’s game the Indians were the worst bunting team in America.
Did Lawson’s RBI bunt single change that perception?
“That was good, yeah, then we got picked off at second base,” said Gantt with a laugh. “We’re going to do something to counteract that. There’s always something to work on in baseball.”….
• Bostian explained the rally panda phaenomenon after the game, as some Indians were using a rally panda hashtag on twitter Wednesday and Thursday. Evidently, one of the players won a stuffed panda from a claw machine during lunch and named it “Amanda the rally panda”.
“It wasn’t much of one,” Gantt quipped. “You’re going to see it dragging behind the bus on the way home.”…
• Catawba and West Chester were staying in the same hotel during their time in Cary. Gantt said the teams developed a tight camaraderie before their game between players, coaches and fans.
“It was kind of the battle of the Hampton Inn,” Gantt said. “We lost to a good team with good family people. You don’t mind losing to those kinds of people. They’re a first-class team.”…
• All four of Catawba’s World Series games were decided by one run.