Wartburg Avoids NCAA Elimination With 8-0 Win
A late-inning offensive surge propelled 19th-ranked Wartburg to an 8-0 victory over Westminster (Mo.) at the NCAA baseball tournament in suburban St. Louis Thursday afternoon (May 19, 2016).
The second-seeded Knights (34-12 overall) broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning when sophonore Zach Hovick (Roland) drove in seniors Milton Croes (Noord, Aruba) and Tanner Johnson (Oak Creek, Wis.) to take the 2-0 lead.
Wartburg added four runs in the seventh, building its advantage to 6-0. The inning included three doubles, which were half of a record-setting total the Knights had on the day. The six doubles were a program high for Wartburg in an NCAA Tournament game, breaking the old mark of five set against Edgewood on May 22, 2005.
A pair of doubles in the ninth inning helped the Knights increase their lead to 8-0. Johnson doubled to score senior Ryan Kemp (Keokuk). Then, Croes hit his third double of the game down the first base line to score Johnson. With the hit, Croes tied Wartburg's single game NCAA mark for doubles set by Brian Greiner against Edgewood 11 years ago.
Sophomore Tanner Eckhart (Monticello, Minn.) pitched eight innings to earn the win for the Knights. He recorded seven strike outs, finishing two shy of his career high.
Johnson went 3-for-4 at the plate. He also scored three runs, which tied the Knights' NCAA tournament mark. Johnson shares the mark with three former Wartburg players.
The Knights avoided elimination from the Central Regional with their shutout of No. 6 seed Westminster (28-15). Wartburg next faces Washington (Mo.) at 3:30 p.m. today in Sauget, Ill.
NCAA Division III Central Regional Tournament Bracket:
Wednesday May 18
Game 1 — Wisconsin-Whitewater 11, Westminster (Mo.) 4
Game 2 — Rose-Hulman 7, Wartburg 2
Game 3 — Washington (Mo.) 8, Augustana (Ill.) 0
Thursday May 19
Game 4 — Wartburg 8, Westminster (Mo.) 0
Game 5 — Wisconsin-Whitewater 15, Augustana (Ill.) 3
Game 6 — Rose-Hulman 6, Washington (Mo.) 5
Friday May 20
Game 7 — Rose-Hulman vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater, Noon
Game 8 — Washington (Mo.) vs. Wartburg, 3:30 p.m.
Game 9 — Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7 p.m.
Saturday May 21
Game 10 — Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, Noon
Game 11 — If necessary, same teams as in Game 10, 3:30 p.m.