Webster Baseball opened up play here Friday afternoon in the Division III World Series with a hard-fought 4-3 setback to 22nd-ranked UMass-Boston in Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The loss, which dropped the 18th-ranked Gorloks to 37-12 on the season, moves Webster into an elimination game in Bracket A on Saturday, June 1 at 10 a.m. against Washington & Jefferson, who fell 6-3 to sixth-ranked Chapman in Friday's opening game of the 2019 Division III World Series. UMass-Boston will face Chapman at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday in the winner's bracket of Bracket A.
"It was a tough game today. We knew they were going to be good, they are a very offensive team, but we were right there," Webster head coach Bill Kurich said in the post-game press conference following the game. "Had a couple bunt plays late that cost us a run (in the eighth), but we did a good job of holding them where they were at to give ourselves a chance in the ninth and Joe (Swanson) hits the ball right on the screws at that kid. We have to come tomorrow, keep going, keep battling and be ready to go."
Webster is making its fourth all-time appearance in the Division III World Series this season and its first appearance since 2015. The Gorloks are now 2-7 all-time in the World Series and fell to 0-4 all-time in opening round games.
Friday's game was a rematch from earlier this season in Kissimmee, Fla., as the Gorloks won that game, 6-4, over the Beacons as part of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. In that game, Webster's drew 13 walks and was hit by two pitches.
"It was a very ood game in Florida. Their guy who threw against us in Florida got hurt in the game, didn't threw a heck of a lot of strikes, walked us 13 times and that obviously didn't happen today," Kurich said. "They (UMB) did a great job on the mound and those guys late in the game for them are tough. We knew that coming in they were really good offensively, but I thought we did a pretty good at limiting them early on, but they just kept nipping away at us."
With the score tied at 3 heading into the bottom of the eighth, UMB took advantage to two Webster errors to score an unearned run and take a 4-3 lead. The Gorloks, who finished with three errors in the game, entered Friday's game leading Division III in fielding percentage at .979.
In the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Boudrias was hit by a pitch from senior Adrian Santiago (Chicago, Ill./Oakton CC) leading off the inning. The next Beacon hitter, Anthony Cecere, laid down a bunt and on the play, Santiago threw the ball wide of first to put runners on first and second with no outs. The ensuing batter, Eddie Riley reached on a fielder's choice and on the play, pinch-runner Ryan Leung, who was running for Bourdias, scored after sophomore All-American third baseman Ben Swords (Freeport, Ill./Freeport) threw the ball away at third base for the Gorloks second error of the inning. Santiago would then get Danny Brown to fly out for the first out, and then retire Cecere at the plate on a fielder's choice by Ryan McCormick and then forced Nico Kydes to ground out back to the mound to end the inning.
The Gorloks put a runner on base in the top of the ninth as junior All-American first baseman Kyler Kent (Pottsboro, Texas/Pottsboro) drew a walk with one out. Junior Garrett Davis (Geneva, Ill./Elgin CC), who was pinch running for Kent, would move to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on a ground out by sophomore designated hitter Kellen Quigley (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook), but with two outs, UMB All-American closer Bobby Tramondozzi ended the game by forcing junior catcher Joe Swanson (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine West) to line out to Charlie Huegi at short.
The Gorloks, who had five hits in the game, but only had two hits over the final five innings, jumped in front 1-0 in the top of the third thanks to a single by Swanson, a walk to sophomore shortstop Matt Staker (El Cajon, Calif./Saint Augustine), a bunt by senior second baseman Danny Strohm (St. Louis, Mo./Greenville University) and an RBI groundout off the bat of junior center fielder Aron Hopp (Lincoln, Ill./Lincoln College).
UMB, who is making its third all-time appearance in the Division III World Series this year, tied the game in the bottom of the third thanks to two hits, the latter hit being an RBI single by Beacons All-American right fielder Nick Herzog, an error by Swords and bunt off of Webster All-American pitcher Matt Mulhearn (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic), who started the game on the mound for the Gorloks.
The Gorloks pushed its lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI double down the left field line by junior left fielder A.J. Smith (DuQuoin, Ill./DuQuoin) and an RBI groundout by Quigley off UMB starting hurler Fernando Burgos.
In the fifth, Webster put Staker on with a lead-off single and Staker added a bunt single with two outs in the seventh. Those would be the final two hits of the game for the Gorloks.
UMB would pull within 3-2 in the sixth thanks to a double by Josh Lopez and a single by Boudrias off of Mulhearn and tied the game in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single to right by Huegi that chased Mulhearn from the game. Santiago would come in and strike out Herzog with the go-ahead run on third and then got out of the inning by inducing Lopez to line out to Swords at third.
Santiago (7-3) took the loss for the Gorloks as he pitched 1.2 innings in relief and allowed eight hits and three runs while walking none and striking out two.
Mulhearn earned a no-decision as he pitched 6.1 innings and allowed eight hits and three runs while walking none and striking out two.
Staker had two of Webster's five hits in the loss.
McCormick and Boudrias each had two hits for the Beacons in the win.
Tramondozzi (4-2) earned the win for UMB as he pitched 1.1 innings and did not allow a run or a hit, but walked one of the four batters he faced.
Webster turned two double plays in the game to push their season total to 42, which is fourth on the school's single-season chart.
The Gorloks will look to keep their season going on Saturday, June 1 as they face Washington & Jefferson at 10 a.m. in the first of four games on the second day of the Division III World Series.
STORY COURTESY OF WEBSTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION