APPLETON, Wis. — Wisconsin-Whitewater defeated Emory 7-0 on Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium to win the 2014 NCAA Division III national championship, the second national championship in program history. Scott Plaza, UW-W’s righty starter, was remarkable, throwing a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts to secure the title.
Entering the game on Tuesday Emory scored 46 runs in its first five games of the national finals, and no opposing pitcher lasted longer than 4.2 innings.
Adam Gregory gave the Warhawks the first run of the game. After an out to lead off the second, UW-W strung together three consecutive singles to load the bases. Gregory followed with a sacrifice fly to centerfield and UW-W led 1-0 after two.
Dylan Friend singled through the right side and Mikole Pierce walked to lead off the third. Michael Gonzalez picked up an RBI with a single to center in the next at bat to make it 2-0 in favor of the Warhawks. Jared Fon followed with a flare to right that found the grass and Pierce scored to stretch the lead to 3-0.
UW-W continued to build on their lead in the fourth. Gregory was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved to second on a Nick Kuhlmann single to left. Friend, who was 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the national finals, made it a perfect 4-for-4 with another single up the middle to score Gregory.
Pierce tagged a ball up the middle in the ensuing at bat to plate Kuhlmann and UW-W took a 5-0 lead through four innings.
Plaza was good at staying out of trouble through the first four innings, but was even better at getting out of it over the course of the next three. He hit a speed bump to start the fifth by giving up a flare double down the right field line, but he retired the next three batters to escape with no damage.
Plaza walked the leadoff batter to start the sixth. A fielder’s choice and a double followed to put runners on first and second with one out. Plaza got the next batter to line into an unassisted double play to Casey Power at first to again escape the inning unscathed.
The seventh started a bit unfavorably for the Warhawks. After a single and a double the Warhawks found themselves in a precarious situation with runners at the corners and no outs. Plaza got the next batter to fly out to a diving Michael Gonzalez in right field for what seemed to be a sacrifice fly, but the Warhawks appealed the call at third base and the runner was called out for leaving early. Plaza struck out the final batter to get out of the jam.
UW-W added two insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it 7-0 and Scott Plaza was left to do the rest. Plaza pitched UW-W’s first shutout in 22 games across six national finals appearances. He concludes the season with a 9-2 record and five complete games. Plaza was named the finals’ most outstanding player. He was 2-0 with 16 innings pitched, 10 hits, zero earned runs, four walks and 14 strikeouts.
Every UW-W batter collected a hit in the game and the team totaled 13. Kuhlmann, Friend, Pierce and Power led the way with two each.
Also named to the all-tournament team were Dylan Friend, Michael Gonzalez and Casey Power.
UW-Whitewater’s first national championship in baseball came in 2005, again under the tutelage of John Vodenlich.
UW-Whitewater, 44-7, also completed the trifecta on Tuesday by winning the NCAA DIII national championship in football, men’s basketball, and baseball all in the same academic year. This is the first time in any division that the feat has been accomplished.