MEQUON, Wisconsin – The MSOE baseball team erased a 5-0 deficit and the bullpen had 10 scoreless innings of work before Concordia Wisconsin scored twice in the top of the 15th inning to secure a 7-5 win and advance to the championship game of the 2017 NACC Tournament Saturday at Kapco Field.
The Raiders (21-21) battled back to force extra innings but found themselves just short of a second-straight trip to the NACC Championship. The Falcons (28-12) advance to play Concordia Chicago for the league crown.
CUW, playing on its home field but as the away team in the game, struck early with a pair of first-inning runs, then added another run in the third, and two more in the fifth to open a 5-0 lead.
The MSOE bats then went to work erasing the deficit while the bullpen did a great job to give them the time necessary to do so.
In the sixth inning, junior Owen Burnikel got a small rally started with a one-out walk and junior Garrett Willems followed with a single. After a ground out moved the pair up 90 feet, freshman Joe Gilpin followed with a pinch-hit RBI single to get the Raiders on the board.
The Red & White then went back to work after a double play stifled any chance of CUW answering in its next at-bat.
Three-straight walks led off the MSOE seventh inning, an inning in which the team clawed back to tie the game with four runs despite just one base hit.
After a fly out was unable to plate a run, Burnikel drove one in the first run of the frame with a fielder's choice. Willems was hit by a pitch to reload the bases and freshman D.J. Ellifson followed with a two-run single to left field. Another walk loaded the bases again with sophomore Andres Oselio drawing a fifth free pass to force in Willems and tie the score at 5-5.
Neither team then scored until the Falcons broke the deadlock in the 15th inning. After two quick outs, the next two hitters reached. Kyle Hilliard then doubled to deep center field, just outside the reach of junior Ryan Newman. The hit scored two runs.
Newman then led off the bottom half of the 15th inning with a double but was left stranded at second base.
The Raider bullpen of sophomore Sam Crawford, freshman Justin Celeski, and sophomore Matt Mohapp did not allow a run between the sixth and 14th innings to keep their team in the game. It was not perfect, as the trio had just two 1-2-3 innings—Crawford's sixth and Mohapp's 13th—but they stranded 11 baserunners, including seven in scoring position. In both the ninth and 14th innings, Concordia Wisconsin left runners at second and third. In the 14th, it had runners at the corners with no outs and at second and third with one out before Mohapp got back-to-back strikeouts to escape danger.
Ellifson got the start on the mound and was charged with four earned runs in 4.1 innings. Crawford allowed one hit and a pair of walks over 3.1 innings. Celeski then tossed 4.0 innings before Mohapp (3-3) threw the final 3.1 and absorbed the loss, striking out four.
At the plate, Ellifson led the charge with three hits. The Raiders had just eight hits in the game but drew 11 walks, had a hit batter, and took advantage of two CUW errors.