No. 5 Bears Advance to Final Day of St. Louis Regional

Photo by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos
Photo by Mary Butkus/WUSTL Photos

St. Louis, Mo., May 18, 2019 – An exciting back-and-forth contest resulted in a 10-9 extra inning victory during an elimination game for No. 5 Washington University in St. Louis over No. 25 Aurora University in the NCAA Division III St. Louis Baseball Regional after the Bears fell 5-3 in their opening game to No. 17 Coe College Saturday at Kelly Field.

WashU is 33-6-1 following the split on Saturday, while Coe improved to 36-5 overall and Aurora fell to 33-11. The Bears advanced to Sunday's action of the double elimination tournament and will face undefeated Coe at 11 a.m.

"Elimination games in the NCAA Tournament are all about resiliency and toughness because when the season is on the line nobody wants to go home and everybody's going to fight to the end," said head coach Pat Bloom. "I'm really proud of our guys after they (Aurora) scored in the top of the 11th with two outs and our guys continued to battle and everybody that went up to the plate had confidence."

Game 1: Coe 5 – WashU 3

WashU fell behind in the bottom of the first inning as the Kohawks played as the home team at Kelly field on day two of the regional. A leadoff walk by Kevin DeLaney was cashed in on a groundout by Coe.

Junior catcher Thomas Gardner scored the equalizer in the top of the fourth inning. He reached base on an infield single before sophomore third baseman Collin Kahal doubled down the left field line. Two batters later junior centerfielder John Ostrander knocked in Gardner with a run scoring base knock to leftfield.

Coe added four runs altogether in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. WashU's offense doubled its output in the ninth inning with a pair of runs as it attempted to comeback.

Junior first baseman John Brinkman singled through the left side of the infield to cut the Bears deficit to 5-2. He later scored on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch by Gardner with two outs. The rally fell short as the final out came on a hard hit grounder that deflected off the pitcher to the second baseman.

Game 2: WashU 10 – Aurora 9 (11 innings)

WashU entered the bottom of the 11th inning trailing 9-8 before sophomore left fielder Sean Robinson got things started with a hit-by-pitch. Senior second baseman Evan Nagel watched four straight pitches miss the strike zone which put the tying and winning runners on base.

"After giving up a run in the top of the 11th we tried to pass the barrel to the next guy," said Nagel. "That's what I was trying to do and I have a lot of good hitters behind me. I was fortunate to draw a walk and the guys behind me stepped up."

Freshman right fielder Jackson Gray drove in Robinson to tie the game up at 9-9 before sophomore pinch hitter Henry Singer drove an 0-1 pitch up the middle to plate Nagel for the winning run.

Six Bears had multi-hit performances totaling 16 hits and 10 runs in an extra inning elimination game victory. Robinson, Nagel, Brinkman, Gray, freshman designated hitter Zac Styka and Gardner had multiple hits as Nagel led the group with three runs scored and Gray led the Bears with four runs batted in.

The Spartans struck first in the third inning with a pair of runs but the Bears responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Gray put the Bears ahead with a two-run line drive single up the middle.

Aurora scored the next five runs and held a 7-4 advantage in the fifth inning, but WashU slowly chipped away at the Spartans lead. Gray knocked in another run in the fifth before Gardner's RBI single cut the deficit to 7-6.

Both teams added a single run each in the sixth and seventh innings to maintain a one run distance before Robinson evened the game at 8-all in the bottom of the eighth. He singled through the right side to score Ostrander.

Brinkman and sophomore Jared Fong combined to throw scoreless ninth and 10th innings before Aurora took the lead with a single run in the top of the 11th inning. Brinkman allowed one run in 2.2 innings of work while striking out two batters to earn his second win of the year.

"I've been in a lot of those situations in the last inning this year either up a run or down a run," said Brinkman. "The whole season has prepared me for that moment."

WashU matched its program best two Tournament victories in a season with the win over Aurora. The Bears won two contests previously in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

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