The Husson University baseball team built an 11-run lead and then withstood a furious rally by Elizabethtown (Pennsylvania) College to outlast the Blue Jays 13-12 in an elimination game of the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament at Ambler, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.
The victory is the first for Husson in NCAA postseason play since 2009, when the Eagles debuted in the NCAA tournament and went 2-2 at the New England Regional in Mansfield, Connecticut, with wins over Westfield State and Babson.
Coach Chris Morris’ club (25-16) advances to Saturday’s late elimination game against the loser of the day’s winner’s bracket contest between host Arcadia and SUNY Oswego.
Elizabethtown, the Landmark Conference tournament champion which lost its NCAA opener Friday to SUNY Oswego 8-2, ends its season with a 22-22 record.
Matt Wallingford earned the pitching win for Husson against Elizabethtown with four innings of two-hit, one run relief after Elizabethtown jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead against Eagles’ starter Harrison Lendrum.
That early deficit was short-lived as Husson exploded for eight runs on eight hits in the top of the third.
After Tyler Parke walked and Austin Snow had a bunt single and the runners moved to second and third on a one-out double steal, Curtis hit a two-run single to tie the game.
Curtis advanced to second base on a throwing error, then scored on a Kobe Rogerson double to give Husson a 3-2 lead. Stoddard doubled to right field to plate Rogerson, then came around to score on a single byTanner Evans to make it 5-2.
Evans advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on Ty Knowlton’s RBI single.
Tyler Parke added an RBI triple and scored when Snow had his second hit of the inning, an RBI single to right to cap off the uprising,
Husson added three runs in the fourth inning, with Stoddard blasting an RBI triple to left-center field and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Evans, who reached second base on the play thanks to an outfield error.
Knowlton doubled to left field to plate Evans to give the Eagles an 11-2 cushion.
Junior outfielder Joshua Scott hit a solo homer to left field in the fifth inning to make it 12-2, and Parke singled home Evans an inning later to give Husson an 11-run cushion.
Elizabethtown began its late rally with two runs in the bottom of the sixth and scored five more runs in the seventh to draw within 13-9.
The Blue Jays then scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but the bid to tie the game fell just short when Cam Graham came on to retire Elizabethtown’s Garrett Schwartzbeck on a game-ending lineout to second base with runners on first and second.
Stoddard paced Husson’s 15-hit offense with two doubles, a single, two walks and two runs scored. Parke tripled and singled with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Curtis and Knowlton each doubled and singled with two RBIs and Scott homered.