CARY, N.C. — Southern Indiana rallied from a three-run deficit to defeat second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato 4-3 and advance to the NCAA Division II national championship game at the USA Baseball National Training Center. USI sees its record rise to 48-13, while MSU concludes its season 48-11.
The Screaming Eagles play Colorado Mesa in the national championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.
After spotting the Mavericks a 3-0 lead in the first inning, the Eagles rallied with four-runs in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead. The four runs would be all USI would need for the victory.
USI senior designated hitter Brent Weinzapfel and sophomore catcher Ryan Bertram started the rally with a pair of one-out singles. Weinzapfel would score the Eagles’ first run of the game on a single by senior third baseman Matt Bowles.
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Bertram, who advanced to third on a fielder’s choice by sophomore centerfielder Hamilton Carr, would cross the plate with USI’s second run on a perfectly executed double steal and cut the deficit to 3-2. Bertram finished the game with a team-high two hits, his first two of the national finals.
After senior leftfielder Brad Wannemuehler walked on six pitches, USI took the lead 4-3 when Carr scored on a single through the left side by senior second baseman Caleb Eickhoff and Wannemuehler dashed across the plate on an error by the MSU leftfielder.
On the mound, senior right-hander David Toth weathered a rough first inning and won his sixth game of the season. Toth (6-1) allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out five in 5.1 innings of work.
Junior right-hander Andrew Mercer got the Eagles out of a jam in the sixth and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings before giving way to junior shortstop/closer Matt Chavarria. Chavarria got the final four outs to earn his 14th save of the year.