MOLINE, ILL. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology held a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the eighth inning, when No. 6 ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) rallied with three runs in the eighth to earn a 4-2 win in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Baseball Central Regional on Wednesday at Augustana University.
St. Thomas relied on two singles and a sacrifice bunt to start the eighth inning rally, then tied the game at 2-2 on a single by Tim Kuzniar. The Tommies later took the lead at 3-2 on a strange play.
With the bases loaded and one out, J.D. Dorgan smashed a line drive off the glove of pitcher John Krasich (Westfield, Ind./Brebeuf) that trickled to shortstop Kody Alayon (Hammond, Ind./Bishop Noll). Alayon stepped on second for one out and moving across the runner made a throw to first that was just late to give the Tommies the lead.
Sam Miller added an insurance run on a single to make the score 4-2 and set the stage for the St. Thomas victory that overcame a spirited near upset bid from the Fightin' Engineers.
Rose-Hulman scored twice in the top of the first inning to take an immediate 2-0 lead. Alayon started the game with a bunt single, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on a wild pitch. Sophomore Donnie Waters (Franklin, Ind./Franklin) reached on a fielding error to score Alayon and make the score 1-0. Sophomore Caleb Kissel (Plainfield, Ill./North) then hit an RBI single up the middle to score Waters and make the score 2-0.
Rose-Hulman relied on the strong arm of sophomore Andrew Stull (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake) to hold the lead until the eighth inning. Stull scattered six hits over the first seven innings and allowed just one run to keep the Fightin' Engineers in the lead.
Defense also contributed to Rose-Hulman holding the lead for seven innings. The St. Thomas first inning ended on a strong throw from left fielder Patrick Klima (South Bend, Ind./St, Joseph) to catcher Zach Trusk (Plainfield, Ill./North) to stop a potential run. Trusk later threw out a Tommie trying to steal to end the sixth. Senior Andrew Benitez (Mililani, Hawaii) capped the seventh with a diving stop and throw to first to end the frame.
Colin Wendinger pitched eight innings and allowed no earned runs to move to 8-0 on the season. Wendinger struck out four and walked two in the effort. Tommy Danczyk pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
The Rose-Hulman offense featured Alayon and Kissel with two singles each. Alayon scored once and Kissel had one RBI. Jack Hogan led St. Thomas with three hits, and a pair of Tommies had two hits each.
Rose-Hulman (26-17) returns to action on Thursday with a noon Central Time elimination game against No. 1 ranked Webster. The Fightin' Engineers will seek their first ever baseball victory over a team ranked No. 1 in the nation. St. Thomas (34-7) will face the winner of tonight's late game on Thursday night.