SPOKANE, Wash. -- Texas Lutheran University Bulldogs captured their first regional championship and will play in the NCAA Division III World Series for the first time in school history after a thrilling 6-5 extra-inning victory Sunday over Willamette (Ore.).
Keaton Boysen's walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th scored Ben Marvin from second base and set off a wild on-field celebration.
The victory secured the sixth-ranked Bulldogs a berth in the NCAA Division III World Series, to be played May 25-30 in Appleton, Wis.
The national championship tournament will be played at Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
TLU, making its fifth NCAA post-season appearance, will play in Appleton after coming close to the World Series in 2005 and 2006. The Bulldogs were a win shy of the World Series in those seasons.
Against the Bearcats on Sunday, TLU battled back from a 4-0 deficit. The Bulldogs had only two hits through six innings against Willamette starter Matt Steindorf.
The Bulldogs won for the 10th straight time and improved to 38-9 overall. Willamette's season comes to close at 31-19. Willamette won the Northwest Conference and battled to the championship round as the No. 6 seed.
Marvin started the winning rally with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Thomas Varner. After an intentional walk to Tyler Cauley, Boysen hit the first pitch he saw from the Bearcats relief pitcher Liam Keefe.
The Bearcats took an early 2-0 lead in the first from two RBI-singles, added runs in the third and sixth innings to give WU a 4-0 heading into the seventh.
Boysen plated the Bulldogs' first run (unearned) in the seventh. He advanced to third on a Spencer Brandt single and scored on a Willamette throwing error.
In the eighth, Varner kicked off scoring with a single to center field. Cauley followed with a two-run homer to left field to tie the game. Matthew Lemon delivered an RBI double to right center to give TLU a 5-4 lead.
But the Bearcats were not done. Perry Van Eckhardt led off the top of the ninth with a home run off Dylan Drgac. Van Eckhardt's homer was ruled fair, just inside the right foul pole.
Willamette threatened in the top of the 10th, loading the bases with one out. Drew Waller entered the game and recorded the next two outs. He picked up the win to improve to 5-2.
Boysen finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Riley Schaefer also had two hits for TLU.
Schaefer's first hit came in the sixth inning with a single up the middle. His second hit, a double down the right field line, tied the TLU school record for hits in single-season. Schaefer tied Aaron Merhoff's record of 86 hits, set during the 1999 season.
TLU relievers Cade Killingsworth, Zach Perry, and Drgac worked a combined 6-1/3 innings and allowed only five hits and two runs.