Webster University saw its record-breaking season come to an end here Sunday afternoon as the seventh-ranked and top-seeded Gorloks fell 5-1 to the University of Texas at Tyler in an elimination round game of the NCAA Division III Central Regional Baseball Tournament at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
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On the season, Webster finished with a .321 team batting average and finished with a 3.40 ERA. On the year, Webster recorded 503 hits, which is fourth most in single-season school history and scored 367 runs, which is fifth most in single-season school history. In addition, Webster hit 103 doubles, which is third most in single-season school history and also had 11 triples, hit 28 home runs and drew 165 walks and stole 123 base, which is fifth most on the school's single-season chart. The Gorloks' pitchers recorded 325 strikeouts, walked just 121 in 405 innings and allowed just 180 runs and 153 earned runs and had nine saves, which is tied for second on the school's single-season chart.
Individually, sophomore first baseman Kyler Kent (Pottsboro, Texas/Pottsboro) set a new single-season school mark for hits with 83, while freshman third baseman Ben Swords (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) hit 19 doubles, which is fourth on the school's single-season chart, while sophomore Matt Mulhearn (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic) tied a single-season school mark for pitching wins with 10 as he was 10-2 on the year. Kent also recorded 385 putouts at first, which is tied for Tom Henke (2012) for second most in a season, while freshman shortstop Matt Staker (El Cajon, Calif./Saint Augustine) recorded 136 assists, which is fifth-most on the school's single-season chart.
Sunday's game also marked the final game for Webster's seven seniors. The seniors this year were pitcher Austin Beccue (Red Bud, Ill./Gibault Catholic), outfielder/pitcher Dakota DeFreitas (Brechin, Ontario/John Wood CC), designated hitter Ben Dinter(Gurnee, Ill./College of Lake County), pitcher C.J. Lee (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley), catcher K.J. Spisak (Columbia, Ill./Lewis & Clark CC), centerfielder Conner Wardlaw (Arnold, Mo./Jefferson College) and left fielder Mike Wick (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett).
Webster entered Sunday's game with UT-Tyler needing to win two elimination games on Sunday to advance to Monday's championship round of the double-elimination event after falling into the elimination after its 7-6 loss in 11 innings on Saturday against fourth-seeded Rhodes College, who is the lone undefeated team in the tournament and needs to win just one game on Monday against Texas-Tyler to earn the regional championship trophy and trip to Appleton, Wis., for the Division III World Series. UTT earned its spot in the championship game with its 4-1 elimination round game against No. 1 ranked and No. 2 seeded Wisconsin-Whitewater.
In Sunday's game, UTT opened the scoring with a lead-off home run from Jared Pauley off of junior Adrian Santiago (Chicago, Ill./Oakton College), who got the start after Lee was scratched just prior to the beginning of the game. The damage in the inning could've been worse as after allowing Pauley's homer, Santiago walked Josh Burns and allowed a single to Alex Bishop to put runners at first and second with one out, but Santiago got out of the jam by inducing Blake Wilson to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The double play was the 43rd of the season for the Gorloks, which is tied for second-most in a single season in school history.
The Patriots lead grew to 4-0 in the third inning thanks to three hits and an error with the big hit in the inning being a 2-run homer over the top of the scoreboard in right-center by Alex Bishop off of Santiago.
Santiago (1-2) pitched 2.2 innings and allowed five hits and four runs (one earned run), while walking one and fanning none, before giving way to sophomore Shane Donovan (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett) following Bishop's homer.
The Gorloks would prevent UTT's Ryan Cheatham's bid for a shutout in the fifth inning as they recorded three singles, including an RBI single through the left side by junior second baseman Danny Strohm (St. Louis, Mo./Greenville University). Strohm's single brought home Swords, who had reached on a single up the middle with one out in the inning.
UTT pushed its lead to 5-1 in the top of the sixth inning thanks to an RBI single by Henry Sanchez. Sanchez's single brought home Bowie Farris, who was hit by a pitch leading off the inning and would move to third later in the inning on an error by Donovan on a failed pick-off attempt at second base.
Webster would then get runners to third base in the seventh and ninth innings, but could never get those runners to cross the plate against Cheatham, who tossed a complete game seven hitter to improve to 8-5 on the season.
In nine innings, Cheatham, scattered seven hits and allowed one run, while walking three and striking out three in his 109 pitch outing.
Donovan, who set a new single-season school mark with eight saves which came in Webster's NCAA Tournament opener against Thomas More, would pitch the final 6.1 innings, which was the longest outing of his career. In those 6.1 innings, he allowed six hits and one unearned run, while walking two and fanning in his 101 pitch effort. Donovan closes the season with a 1.72 ERA and his 25 appearances this season is second-most in a single season as only Steven Dooley's 26 appearances in 2012 are better.
Swords had two of Webster's seven hits in the game, while Tanner Roach had three hits for the Patriots. In addition to Roach, Pauley, Bishop, and Sanchez each had two hits in the victory.
Both teams left six runners on base and each turned a double play in the game that lasted a little over two hours.