CARY, N.C. – No. 13 West Chester University scored 11 times over the final three innings as it posted a 13-7 win over Southern New Hampshire University in the NCAA Division II Baseball Championship Monday evening at the USA Baseball Training Complex. The Golden Rams improve to 44-10 and will next play on Thursday against an opponent to be determined. The Penmen are now 43-14 and will play an elimination game Wednesday at 3:00 against Minnesota State, a team it defeated 3-2 in Saturday's opener.
Five players finished with two hits for Southern New Hampshire, while Jon Minucci (Madison, Conn.) finished 1-3 with three RBI. The Golden Rams outhit the Penmen 16-13.
Trailing 5-4 entering the eighth, West Chester scored four times in the top of the eighth to take an 8-5 lead. Josh Heyne and Reid Pulford opened the inning with back-to-back doubles to tie the game, then after Mike Raimo struck out swinging, Jack Provine belted a two-run home run to left to make it 7-5. The next batter, Joe Wendle, doubled, forcing SNHU to replace reliever Alex Powers (Brewster, Mass.) with David Gibson (Hanover, Mass.). Wendle scored after a wild pitch and a balk on Gibson.
Southern New Hampshire pulled back within a run with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. Brendan O'Brien (East Bridgewater, Mass.) opened the inning with an opposite-field single to left, followed by a Kevin Spatkowski (Bristol, Conn.) walk. After two outs, including a groundout that moved both runners into scoring position, Minucci hit a single through the left side to make it 8-7.
West Chester broke the game open with five more runs in the ninth, using two hits, two walks, a hit by pitch and an error to take a 13-7 lead.
After the Rams tied the game with two runs in the seventh, Riley Palmer (Goffstown, N.H.) gave Southern New Hampshire a 5-4 lead with a two-out, solo home run to right field.
Southern New Hampshire jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first as the first five batters all reached. O'Brien and Spatkowski each singled, followed by Matt Boulter (Wrentham, Mass.) reaching on a fielders choice. Andy Lalli (Lakeville, Mass.) then was hit by a pitch to make it 1-0. Minucci made it 2-0 when he reached on a fielders choice to plate Spatkowski while Boulter scored when a pickoff attempt of Minucci at first was thrown away.
West Chester would pull within 3-2 in the second when Pulford's two RBI single plated Heyne and Matt Baer.
Powers, one of seven SNHU pitchers on the evening, was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs in his 1/3rd of an inning. Southern New Hampshire starter Junior Mendez (Patchogue, N.Y.) went just 2.1 innings, allowing a pair of runs, before being spelled by Zach LeBarron (Bennington, Vt.). LeBarron tossed 3.2 innings of shutout baseball before surrendering two runs in the seventh.