WHITING, Indiana – It took two games and nearly eight hours, but the Wright State baseball team in the end claimed the Horizon League Tournament title Saturday at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Indiana.
After Milwaukee rallied for a 5-4 win in the first game, the Raider offense exploded for six runs in the opening inning of game two and rolled to a 17-4 decision to take the title.
In the first game, the Raiders opened the scoring in the second as Mitch Roman singled up the middle, stole second, went to third on a balk and scored as Matt Morrow grounded out to second.
WSU then extended the lead to 3-0 in the third. Sean Murphy led off with a single through the left side and Mark Fowler followed with a two-run home run to left center, his fourth of the season.
Milwaukee cut the deficit to one with a pair of two-out runs in the fourth, only to see Wright State answer with a run of its own in the bottom of the frame. Ryan Fucci doubled to left and came in to score on back-to-back grounders by Andrew McCafferty and John Brodner.
The Panthers, however, tied the game with two unearned runs in the sixth and came up with the winning run in the eightth on a solo home run to left center off the bat of Tell Taylor.
Murphy led the Raiders with three hits while Roman had two.
The WSU offense came alive early in the second game, scoring six times in the bottom of the first. After Murphy led off with a walk, Fowler connected for his second home run of the day and fifth of the year to make it 2-0.
Singles from Michael Timm, Roman and Morrow loaded the bases for Fucci, who plated two runs with a hit up the middle. Later RBI singles from McCafferty and Murphy resulted in the final two runs of the inning.
Milwaukee closed the margin to 6-3 with three in the fourth, but the Panthers would get no closer the rest of the way as starter Jack Van Horn and reliever Luke Mamer held UWM to just one run and five hits. Mamer (4-2) picked up the win in pitching the final five innings, striking out seven.
After Wright State tacked on two runs in the fifth on a Morrow single and a Fucci sacrifice fly, the Raiders broke the game open with six runs in the sixth, the big blow being a grand slam off the bat of Gabe Snyder, and three more in the eighth.
Snyder drove in five overall while Fucci had four RBI and three runs scored. McCafferty had three hits while Murphy, Timm, Roman, Morrow collected two each, with Fowler, Morrow and McCafferty driving in two.
Five WSU players were named to the All-Tournament Team, led by MVP Fowler as the senior designated hitter hit .389 in the tournament with two home runs and five runs scored. He was joined on the team by Murphy, who hit a team-best .474 with seven runs scored, Roman, who hit .429 with seven runs scored, Fucci, who drove in a team-best eight runs in hitting .429 and pitcher E.J. Trapino, who picked up two wins in the tournament and allowed no runs in five innings with five strikeouts.
Wright State (41-15), which ties the 1987 squad (41-14) for the second-most wins in a season in school history, will find who and where it will play as the NCAA bracket is announced Monday at noon on ESPNU. The Raiders will be making their fifth appearance in the NCAA Division I Regionals and first since 2011.
Horizon League All-Tournament Team
P – Dalton Lundeen, Valparaiso
P – E.J. Trapino, Wright State
C – Sean Murphy, Wright State
1B – Sam Koenig, Milwaukee
2B – Tell Taylor, Milwaukee
SS – Mitch Roman, Wright State
3B – Nick Unes, Milwaukee
OF – Tyler Detmer, UIC
OF – Luke Meeteer, Milwaukee
OF – Ryan Fucci, Wright State
DH – Mark Fowler, Wright State (MVP)