MOLINE, ILL. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology advanced to the NCAA Division III Baseball Regional championship round for the first time in program history, but No. 6 ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) advanced to the Division III World Series with a 9-4 victory on Sunday at Augustana College.
Rose-Hulman's tournament run included a 3-2 win over No. 1 ranked Webster University, a 4-3 extra inning victory over Buena Vista, and a 1-0 shutout of archrival DePauw on Saturday night.
The three tournament wins in the 2014 NCAA Division III Regional matched Rose-Hulman's entire baseball history in five previous apperances in the national tournament.
The Fightin' Engineers jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the championship round game against St. Thomas, before the Tommies answered with one run in the fourth and sixth frames to close within 3-2. St. Thomas continued its rally with three runs in the seventh and four in the eighth to advance to the NCAA Division III World Series, where the Tommies seek their third national championship.
Sophomore Karson Nixon (Jasper, Ind./Jasper) pitched the first four innings on two days rest to give the Fightin' Engineers an early strong pitching performance. Nixon scattered five hits and struck out two, before giving way to the bullpen. St. Thomas answered with its rally to capture another Regional title.
Offensively, Rose-Hulman jumped out to a 3-0 lead with one run in the second inning and two more in the fourth. In the second inning, junior Josh Hoeing (Rushville, Ind./Rushville) singled and advanced on a throwing error. Sophomore Donnie Waters (Franklin, Ind./Franklin) added a bunt single, and sophomore Patrick Klima (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph) singled home Hoeing. St. Thomas limited the damage to one run by forcing a bases loaded ground out.
In the fourth inning, the Fightin' Engineers pushed the lead to 3-0. Sophomore Warren Whithaus (Robinson, Ill./Robinson) and senior Andrew Benitez (Mililani, Hawaii) both walked and advanced on a ground out. Following a passed ball and an RBI single by sophomore Kody Alayon (Hammond, Ind./Bishop Noll), Rose-Hulman pushed its lead to 3-0. St. Thomas relied on its clutch pitching to again force the Engineers to leave the bases loaded.
St. Thomas began its rally with single runs in the fourth and sixth innings. The big rallies came in a three-run seventh inning and a four-run eighth frame. J.D. Dorgan led the Tommies with a home run, two hits, two runs and two RBIs. Brady Johnson had a game-high three hits, and Kevin Stroik joined Tim Kuzniar with two hits each.
The offense helped Caleb Fernholz earn the victory with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. Jimmy Danczyk recorded the final five outs for his 10th save to send the Tommies to Appleton, Wisconsin, for next week's World Series.
Alayon, Hoeing and Waters paced the Rose-Hulman offensive effort with two hits each in the championship round contest.
Two Fightin' Engineers were named to the all-tournament team for their efforts on the week. Sophomore Daniel Sutherland (Centennial, Colo./Regis Jesuit) earned a spot after his complete game three-hit shutout against DePauw University on Saturday to reach the title round. Sophomore Caleb Kissel (Plainfield, Ill./North) earned a spot after leading the Fightin' Engineers with nine hits in the Regional.
St. Thomas enters the Division III World Series with a 37-7 record, while Rose-Hulman completed its historic season at 29-18.