(Story courtesy of Trinity University)
ABILENE, Texas - Trinity University's comeback fell short in a 9-6 loss to Linfield College, ending Trinity's season in the NCAA West Regional Tournament at Walt Driggers Field on Friday. Trinity (34-13) went 1-2 at the regional tournament, which was the sixth NCAA Division III Playoff appearances for the Tigers. Box Score Official Site
The 16th-ranked Tigers opened play with a 3-2 loss against No. 21 Redlands on Wednesday, which was the fifth time Trinity had suffered a one-run loss in the postseason. Trinity bounced back with a 7-5 come-from-behind win over Concordia (TX) yesterday, but today's loss eliminated the Tigers from contention.
Trinity had 12 hits in the game, but left a whopping 12 runners on base against the fifth-ranked Wildcats. Linfield came into the tournament as the top seed, but was upset by Concordia in the opening round.
Linfield struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning, but Trinity battled back with a run in the second, and two more in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. The Wildcats answered right back, though, hitting a game-tying homer to lead off the fifth, and finishing the inning with a total of five runs to go up 7-3.
The Tigers grabbed two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, then cut the lead to 7-6 with another run in the seventh. After two outstanding defensive plays in the top of the eighth, the Tigers were able to load the bases in the bottom of the inning.
Nick Pappas, who hit a ninth-inning go-ahead grand slam against Concordia yesterday, nearly pulled off a similar feat in today's game. For the second straight day, a team intentionally walked Kyle Felix to bring up Pappas with the bases loaded. Today, he pulled a would-be home run foul, then hit a deep fly to center to end the inning.
Linfield added two insurance runs in the next inning, and despite Trinity bringing the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth, Linfield was able to hang on for the win.
Kyle Felix and Nicholas Iacovella both had three hits in the game for the Tigers, and Iacovella also drove in two runs. Felix scored twice, and hit his 14th homer of the season, tying the Trinity single season record. Bo Edwards (1998) and Doug Grigar (1999) both hit 14 in one year. Dominick Robusto drove in two runs for Trinity as well.
Starting pitcher Michael Bentz was charged with the loss, falling to 4-3 this season. After the first few batters got on and scored two early runs, Bentz shut down the Linfield offense and retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. That streak was snapped on the leadoff homer in the fifth that eventually led to Bentz leaving the game.
Trinity's 34 wins this season are tied for the fifth-most in school history, and are just three shy of the Tiger record. Coach Tim Scannell, who became Trinity's all-time wins leader early this season, has led the team to 10 seasons of 30 wins or more.