(Photo courtesy of Joshua Moczygemba)
(Portions of this story courtesy of Trinity University)
McMINNVILLE, Ore. - The fourth-ranked Trinity University baseball team opened up its part in the NCAA Playoffs with a 3-2 loss to 16th-ranked University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at the McMinnville Regional Tournament on Wednesday night.
Trinity falls to 33-9 with the loss, which snaps a three-game winning streak for the team. UW-Stevens Point improved to 30-11 with the win. The Tigers are the No. 3 seed at this weekend's tournament, while the Pointers came in as the fourth seed.
Both teams continue play tomorrow in the double-elimination event. Trinity faces top seed and top-ranked Linfield College, which is hosting the tournament. Linfield earned a 1-0 win against LeTourneau University in today's opening game. UW-Stevens Point takes on California Lutheran University, which earned a 2-1 win over Illinois Wesleyan University.
Trinity struck first in the game, scoring an unearned run on a balk in the bottom of the third inning. Christian Muscarello (pitctured above) scored on the play, which was made possible by his two-out double and a fielding error.
In the top of the fifth, UW-Stevens Point tied the game despite being held hitless at the time by Tiger starter Zack Speer. A two-out walk, passed ball, and stolen base put a runner on third, then an error allowed the tying run to come home. Stevens Point then collected its first hit of the game to put the Pointers up 2-1.
The Tigers answered immediately in the bottom of the fifth, starting with Chris Bianchi's leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt from Connor Moore and a sac fly from Austin Singer made it a 2-2 game after five.
The top of the seventh inning saw Stevens Point score its first earned run of the game off of Speer, breaking the tie with an RBI double. Speer was chased from the game for the Tigers, and he was also saddled with the loss.
Speer allowed one earned run (three total) on just three hits over 6.1 innings, striking out three batters, and allowing just one walk. Nick Griffith finished the game for Trinity, yielding only two hits in 2.2 shutout innings of relief.
Trinity's offense was led by a 3-for-4 performance by Muscarello. He picked up three of the team's seven total hits as the Tigers actually out-hit the Pointers 7-5 in the game. Bianchi was 1-for-3 with a run scored as well, and Singer provided the team's lone RBI.
At last year's NCAA Regional in Austin, Texas, Trinity and Linfield met three times. The Wildcats took two of three meetings against the Tigers, advancing to the NCAA Finals, and eventually, winning the Division III Championship.