William Penn University
The Statesmen baseball team played its longest game since joining the NAIA over a decade ago and came away with a memorable victory on Senior Day to earn a split of a Midwest Collegiate Conference doubleheader against Mount Mercy Sunday.
William Penn (20-16, 10-8 MCC) lost the opener 7-3, but kept its league title hopes alive with a 7-6 win in the 14-inning nightcap. Viterbo and Clarke continue to lead the MCC at 9-7, but the Statesmen may have a chance to earn the crown next Friday as they travel to La Crosse, Wis., for a season-ending twinbill versus Viterbo.
The Statesmen went up 2-0 in the bottom of the second when Stan Simmons singled home Nathan Wood and Joel Medina.
The Mustangs (11-28-1, 7-9 MCC) got on the board in the top of the fourth with three runs, but the Statesmen tied the contest in the bottom half as Wood tagged up from third base and scored on a flyout by Simmons.
The Mustangs, despite not tallying a hit, loaded the bases in the sixth. The bases then cleared in the next at-bat when Joe Arnold cleared the right field fence to make it 7-3. The Statesmen, who actually outhit Mount Mercy 9-5, failed to narrow the deficit in the last two frames.
Medina finished 2-for-3 and Mueller was 2-for-4, while Simmons had three RBI and Wood scored twice.
Jared Shoning struck out four (two walks) in 3 2/3 innings as the starter, but did not figure into the decision. Corey Lathram was saddled with the loss out of the bullpen. The junior (3-2) only gave up one hit in 3 1/3 frames, but walked four against four strikeouts.
Few words can describe the day’s second contest, but long probably hits the target the best. The game started around 2:30 p.m. and finished over 3 1/2 hours later, even without pesky television commercials, lengthy promotional events, or the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The Mustangs jumped ahead right away with two runs in the first and another in the second. William Penn trimmed the lead to one in the second on a single by Enrique Alvarado that plated both Wood and Medina.
Mount Mercy put two more runs across in the third and another in the fifth. Still down 6-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, William Penn was in danger of being swept one day after taking two against the Mustangs.
The Statesmen showed the same resilience that helped them to overcome a late three-run margin in Saturday’s nightcap.
Wood walked to lead off the sixth. Alvarado added a single, and Simmons was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kyle Mauricio then provided the biggest base hit (to that point, that is), pounding a triple into the right-center gap to bring in all three of his teammates.
Mueller knotted up the game at 6-6 with a double in the next at-bat, and after a scoreless seventh, extra innings ensued.
The teams combined to score in six of the 14 half innings of regulation, but for some reason the offenses were snake-bitten in overtime. Mount Mercy put seven batters on base after the seventh, but never got a player past second.
William Penn matched Mount Mercy with seven baserunners from the eighth to the 13th inning, but also failed to advance anyone past second.
The 14th was lucky for the Statesmen. Wood led off by reaching on an error, one of four by the Mustangs. He was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alvarado, and three batters later Ricky Alvarez singled up the middle. With whatever energy he had left after six hours of competition, Wood rounded third hard and had enough motor to beat out the throw to home.
The Statesmen dugout erupted and everyone piled on Alvarez, one of nine seniors who were recognized before the double dip.
The teams posted a total of 25 hits (14-11 William Penn), but also had eight errors (four each) and left 29 runners on base (18-11 William Penn). Mauricio had four hits and three RBIs in a school-record eight official at-bats, breaking the old mark of six at-bats. Alvarado was 3-for-6 with two RBI, while Alvarez managed a 2-for-3 showing. Wood scored three times in the win.
Surprisingly only six pitchers were used (three each), including Statesmen starter Brian Williams who went a full seven innings. He struck out five and walked five, but obviously did not figure into the decision. Neither did Lathram, who only permitted four hits in six scoreless innings, recording one strikeout and walking one. Lathram was busy all weekend, making three relief appearances for a total of ten innings.
Shoning (2-2) earned the victory with a scoreless 14th.