ERIE, PA – #21 ranked Winston-Salem State, the Atlantic Region #4 seed, used a solid pitching performance, and got big hits from Gavin Culler and Colby Keene, as the Rams rolled to a 5-2 win over #11 and #3 seed, Seton Hill on Thursday evening in the opening round of the NCAA DII Regionals.
With the win, Winston-Salem State improves to 41-13, while the Seton Hill Griffins fall to 42-12.
The Winston-Salem State Rams got going early, as Des Roberts and Gavin Culler both reach with singles in the first inning, and Roberts was brought home on a Connor Andrus single to right field, to give WSSU an early 1-0 lead.
Seton Hill looked to get right back in the game in their first at-bat, but a double play from Nathan Steger to Taylor Idol to Jacob Barber ended any threat.
The Rams added two more runs in the seventh inning, as Jacob Barber singled to open the inning, and Taylor idol reached on a throwing error by the Seton Hill third baseman, moving the runners to second and third with no outs. After Des Roberts reached on a fielder’s choice, Gavin Culler came through with single through the right side that would score Barber. Colby Keene would single through the left side scoring Roberts, and giving the WSSU Rams a 3-0 lead.
Seton Hill would manage to plate one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but once again Hayden O’Neal, on in relief for Sam Burton, shut down the Griffins with just the one run.
WSSU would add two more important insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning, as Des Roberts would walk and steal second base. And once again, Gavin Culler would come up big with a double to left center field, scoring Roberts. Colby Keene would add another rbi to his total, as he would single in Gavin Culler before being thrown out at first to give WSSU a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The Griffins would add one run, but Jordan Cummings would induce a routine groundout by one of the nation’s top hitters in Nick Sell, to second base for the WSSU Rams 5-2 win.
The WSSU win is their first win in an opening round game, and head coach Kevin Ritsche called the game “the biggest in school history”. It is the Ram third win in a NCAA Regional game.
Sam Burton picked up the win for the WSSU Rams, pitching a masterful 6.0 innings, allowing just one run on four hits, while walking five and striking out five. Hayden O’Neal came out of the bullpen to pitch 2.0 innings, giving up one run and one hit with a strikeout, an Jordan Cummings come on to close out the contest with a hitless ninth inning, inducing one of the nation’s top hitter, Nick Sell, into a routine groundout to second base to close out the game.
Gavin Culler led the Rams at the plate, going 4 for 5 with two runs batted in and one run scored, while Colby Keene finished 2 for 4 with two runs batted in. Des Roberts went 2 for 4 with three runs scored, and Jacob Barber went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Connor Andrus finished 1 for 3 with a run batted in. Nathan Steger went 1 for 4 on the night.
The #4 seed WSSU Rams will face the #5 seed West Chester Golden Rams, the 2012 DII National Champions, in a winner bracket game at 5:00pm Friday at Jerry Uht Park.
All games were moved up two hours in anticipation of inclement weather in the area.
Courtesy: WSSU Sports Information