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Rose-Hulman Baseball Narrowly Falls on HCAC Championship Day

Rose-Hulman Baseball Narrowly Falls on HCAC Championship Day

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology rallied from an 8-6 deficit to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning, before Franklin College had a walk-off single to capture a 9-8 victory and earn the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon at Art Nehf Field.

Quenton Wellington hit a two-out line drive single to right field to score Logan Demkovich with the game winning run for Franklin.  The Grizzlies won their second consecutive HCAC Tournament championship and will advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament with a 28-13 record.

Rose-Hulman rallied from several deficits to make the championship game a nine-round heavyweight battle.  Franklin led 6-2 after four innings, but the Engineers scored twice in the fifth, one in the sixth and once in the seventh to tie the score at 6-6.

The Grizzlies added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to earn an 8-6 lead and close within three outs of clinching the HCAC Tournament title.  Rose-Hulman fought back to tie the score with a ninth-inning rally.

Logan Cody started the rally with a double and scored on a double by Ryan Stachowski.  Conner Helbling then singled to move pinch runner Shaine Mitchell to third base with no outs.  After Luke Calabrese was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs and the Engineers had trimmed the margin to 8-7.

Sean Casey lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Mitchell and tie the score at 8-8.  Franklin pitcher Nate Stonebraker coaxed the Engineers into a ground out and a strikeout to end the threat and keep the score tied.

In the bottom of the ninth, Jarrod Smith opened the ninth inning with a single.  With one out after a fielder's choice, Demkovich advanced to second on a ground out for the second out of the frame to set the stage for the game winning play.

Cody, Stachowski and Conner Helbling led the Rose-Hulman offense with three hits each.  Cody had two doubles and scored three runs.  Stachowski had a double and two RBIs.  Helbling pitched in with three singles and two RBIs.

Quintin Bynum was an unsung hero for Rose-Hulman out of the bullpen.  Entering with Rose-Hulman trailing 6-2, he allowed just one run in 3.1 innings of work to quiet the Franklin offense and set the stage for the Fightin' Engineer comeback.

Franklin was led by Wellington, Sam Claycamp, Smith, Demkovich and Pawley with two hits each.  Claycamp, who scored three runs on the day, was named the HCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.  Rose-Hulman representatives on the all-tournament team included Casey, Cody and Stachowski.  

Casey highlighted the Rose-Hulman defense with four outstanding catches in left field, including reaching over the fence to rob a potential home run by Claycamp in the sixth inning.

Rose-Hulman completes the season with a 27-12 record.  The Fightin' Engineers were ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division III Mideast Region last week and will await word of whether they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament during the video selection show that airs Monday at noon on ncaa.com.