Washington & Jefferson Tops Illinois Wesleyan, 5-3, in NCAA Opener

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regional-blueTERRE HAUTE, IND. --  Washington & Jefferson took advantage of an error to score a pair of unearned runs in the top of the seventh that proved to be the difference in the Presidents’ 5-3 win over Illinois Wesleyan in the opening game of the Mideast Regional Wednesday morning at Art Nehf Field in Terre Haute, Ind.

 Three Washington & Jefferson (31-11) hitters recorded multiple hits in the victory, including Scott Liller, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk and a pair of runs scored.  Ronny Peirish tallied a pair of hits and scored a run, while Scott Brady went 2-for-4.

Presidents’ starter Eddie Nogay tossed 8.1 innings to improve to 11-1 on the mound, as he allowed three runs on 12 hits and struck out four around two walks.  Jared Baird recorded the final two outs of the contest on just one pitch to notch his third save of the year.

Illinois Wesleyan (32-13) was paced by Jon Frericks, as the center fielder went 3-for-5 and scored a run.  Kevin Callahan added a 2-for-4 effort and drove in a run for the Titans, with Anthony Lopez contributing a pair of hits in his four plate appearances.

Jeff Johnson suffered the loss for IWU, allowing five runs, three earned, on 11 hits with six strikeouts in his 7.0 innings of work.

After four scoreless innings, Washington & Jefferson finally broke through with a pair of runs in the top half of the fifth to take a 2-0 lead.  Liller started the rally with a one-out single to center and D.J. Michalski followed with a single to the gap in left center to put runners on the corners with just one out.  Liller was able to score the first run on the game by scampering home on a passed ball and Michalski touched home after an RBI single off the bat of Josh Staniscia.

Illinois Wesleyan countered with three runs in the bottom of the inning to go on top, 3-2.  After Zach Scott drew a leadoff walk, Frericks singled to left center and Callahan doubled off the wall in left to score Scott.  Bobby Czarnowski tied the game with a base hit to right to score Frericks and Johnathan Erickson gave the Titans a lead with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Callahan.

The Presidents tied the game in their half of the sixth, when Michael Ruffing came through with a two-out single to right that scored Derek McIlvaine, who doubled earlier in the inning.

In the seventh, Liller led off the inning by reaching on an error by Illinois Wesleyan second baseman Anthony Lopez that would later prove to be costly.  Liller moved to second after Michalski coaxed a walk and later advanced to third on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Peirish.  Kyle McLain broke the tie with an RBI single to left to score Liller and put the Presidents in front 4-3.  Tyler Schultz added an insurance run with a single up the middle that plated Peirish.

After his offense gave him a two-run lead, Nogay retired the next seven Titans he faced, before surrendering a one-out single to Frericks with one out in the bottom of the ninth that brought Baird out of the bullpen.  Baird quickly ended the game, as Callahan grounded into a game-ending double play on the first pitch he saw from Baird.

With the win, Washington & Jefferson advances to the second round of the winner’s bracket and will play the winner of the No. 1 Manchester/No. 8 Mount Union contest tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.  Illinois Wesleyan will play at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning against the loser of the Manchester/Mount Union contest in the first elimination game of the regional.