Thomas More Rallies to Top Illinois Wesleyan

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regional-blueTERRE HAUTE, IND. -- Thomas More eliminated Illinois Wesleyan from the Mideast Regional by scoring all 10 of its runs over the final four innings, as the Saints overcame an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Titans, 10-3, Friday afternoon at Art Nehf Field in Terre Haute, Ind.

Ryan Darner led Thomas More’s 18-hit offensive attack by going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.  Travis Miller also drove in three runs for the Saints with a 1-for-5 effort.  Leadoff batter David Kennett turned in a 4-for-6 performance and scored twice, while Nick Connor bolstered Thomas More offense with three hits in his four plate appearances.

Tim Baldrick improved to 8-1 on the season by allowing four runs, three earned, on nine hits in his 7.0 innings of work.  Baldrick also struck out three without issuing a walk.  David Etscheid set the Thomas More career save record and tied the single-season mark by recording the final out for his eighth save of the year and his 12th career save.

Bobby Czarnowski and Anthony Lopez both homered for Illinois Wesleyan (33-14) in the loss, as Czarnowski was one of four batters to record multiple hits by going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBI.  Zach Scott also drove in a run on a pair of hits, and Kevin Callahan and A.J. Nathan combined for the other two RBI for the Titans.

It was all Illinois Wesleyan in the first two innings, as Czarnowski delivered a towering solo homer to right center in the bottom of the first, Lopez belted his first round-tripper of the season in the second and Scott put the Titans in from 3-0 with a two-out RBI single to cap the second frame.

Illinois Wesleyan starter Matt Hart held Thomas More off the scoreboard for the first five innings, but the Saints broke through with three in the top of the sixth to knot the score at 3-3.  Thomas More started the frame with three-straight hits, including a two-run double by Darner that fell in the gap in right center to plate Kennett and Jason Handley, who both singled to start the rally.  Two batters later, Miller tied the game with a ground out to short.

The Saints broke open the game in the top half of the seventh by scoring five runs on six hits and an error.  Darner drove in the first two runs of the inning with a double to left center and Miller drove in two more with a double of his own to the gap in right center.  Thomas More took advantage of an Illinois Wesleyan error for its final run of the inning, as Miller was able to score on a Titan throwing error to make the score 8-3 in favor of the Saints.

Illinois Wesleyan cut the lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the seventh, when Czarnowski drove in Matt Workman with a single to left, but the Saints quickly got the run back in the eighth, when Handley drove in a run by reaching on a fielder’s choice.

The Saints added an insurance run in the top of the ninth to go up 10-4, before the Titans threatened in the bottom of the ninth by scoring two runs to cut the deficit to 10-6 and loading the bases to send the tying run to the plate.  However, Etscheid was able to come out of the pen and seal the victory by getting Lopez to fly out to shallow center to end the game.

Thomas More advances to play President’s Athletic Conference foe Washington & Jefferson in an elimination game later on tonight.  With the loss, Illinois Wesleyan finishes its 2013 season with a 33-14 record.