The Wilmington University baseball team will play for a NCAA Division II East Regional Tournament Championship as they defeated top seeded and nationally top ranked Franklin Pierce, 5-3, in an elimination game on Sunday afternoon at Pappas Field.
With the win, the Wildcats will have a rematch against St. Thomas Aquinas in the final on Sunday at 5 p.m. The winner advances to the NCAA Division II World Series in Cary, N.C.
The Wildcats used a four run top of the fourth inning to take the lead, a lead they would never relinquish. With two outs and the bases empty, Matt Lopes started the rally with a single up the middle. Sean Feeney got a big bounce over the first baseman for runners on first and third. Christian Adorno loaded the bases by reaching on a catcher's interference call.
Mike Annone ripped the first pitch he saw passed a diving second baseman for two RBI and the ball snuck past the center fielder, allowing the third runner to come home and Annone to take third base. Brendan Fallers then laced a single back up the middle to bring in pinch runner Connor Stevens for the 4-1 lead.
Lopes added to the Wilmington lead with a single back up the middle in the top of the eighth, scoring Josh Swirchak who led off the frame by reaching on a hit-by-pitch.
Ray Gambone allowed a solo homer to left in the third and a single run in the bottom of the fifth but was relentless in his seven innings of work. Jake Wersinger picked up the first out of the eighth inning before turning it over to Tyler Fries.
The Raven loaded the bases in the eighth but only scored one run, as Fries induced a grounder back to the mound and a infield pop up to get out of the jam.
Fries allowed a base hit bunt to lead of the bottom of the ninth, but then induced a fielder's choice to second, and back-to-back fly outs to end the contest.
Gambone struck out seven in the win, improving to 5-1 on the year. Fries earned his 13th save of the season, tossing 1.2 innings.