File photo courtesy of Frank Stallworth
RINDGE, N.H. - - A four run seventh inning decided the fate of the Wilmington University baseball team as St. Thomas Aquinas gave the Wildcats their first loss of the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament, 7-3, late on Saturday night at Franklin Pierce's Pappas Field.
The bats were slow to come around for the Wildcats (35-13) as they scored the game's first run without recording a hit. The Spartans (30-18-1) tied the game with a run in the fifth and then tallied four in the seventh, one in the eighth, and added an insurance run in the ninth to take the victory.
Sam Goines started the bottom of the second inning with a leadoff walk before being sacrificed into scoring position by Matt Lopes. Goines then stole third base and came home for the early 1-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Christian Adorno.
Senior Rob Gore pitched into the seventh inning on Saturday night, only missing one spot in his outing before turning the ball over to the bullpen. Gore was also hindered by two errors while he was on the mound, one coming right before a two-run double in the seventh that ended his night.
The Spartans tied the game with a two-out double down the left field line in the fifth, and took the lead with the one-out double in the seventh. The Spartans than added two more runs in the seventh as Kyle Menchaca and Zach Rumford relieved Gore.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to 6-3 in the bottom of the eighth, picking up a one out double to left center by Jon Castro. Two batters later, Goines followed with a two-out single through the right side, bringing in Castro.
But the Spartans added an insurance run in the top of the ninth before shutting down the Wildcats in order in the bottom of the ninth, sending them to the East Regional Championship game on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Gore went the first 6.1 innings, striking out seven batters while allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits. He was saddled with the loss and falls to 0-3 on the year. The Spartans Anthony Morris came on in relief in the sixth inning with runners on first and second and two outs, getting out of the jam before finishing out the game. He improved to 7-2 with the win, giving up two runs on five hits in relief of starter John Bednarek.
The loss is the first of the NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament for the Wildcats, as they now need to win two games on Sunday to win their first Regional Tournament. The Wildcats square off against top seed and host Franklin Pierce at 1 p.m. on Sunday with the winner moving on to play St. Thomas Aquinas for the Regional Championship at 5 p.m.