Senior Dan Haugh (Andover, Mass./St. John's Prep) drove in three runs and freshman Kevin Foley (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) went 5-for-5 to send the Wheaton College baseball team to a 9-8 win over the University of St. Thomas Monday evening at the NCAA Division III College World Series at Fox Cities Stadium.
Junior Dan Gusovsky (Andover, Mass./Andover) and freshman Apolinar De la Cruz (Providence, R.I./Classical) each hit two-run home runs for the Lyons (41-9), who advance to the national championship game for the second time in program history. Wheaton - which moves to 7-1 in the NCAA Tournament this season and 7-2 all-time in the College World Series - will face Marietta Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. before playing for the program's first-ever NCAA Championship Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Trailing 5-3 entering the bottom of the third, the Lyons scored five times to take an 8-5 lead. Junior Sean Ryan (Norton, Mass./Norton) reached on a fielders choice, stole second, and scored on an RBI single by Haugh to cut the Lyons deficit to one at 5-4. De la Cruz followed with a two-run blast over the centerfield fence to give Wheaton its first lead of the afternoon at 6-5 and chase Tommies senior starter Bryce Gapinski (Foley, Minn.). Later in the frame, seniorJohn Keating (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) laced a two-run single through the right side that scored Gusovsky and Foley to make it 8-5.
Wheaton junior Corey Laliberte (Fall River, Mass./Durfee), meanwhile, came on in relief of senior starting pitcher Nolan Corr (Somersworth, N.H./St. Thomas Aquinas) and tossed a pair of shutout innings before running into trouble in the sixth, when St. Thomas struck for a pair to cut the Lyons lead to one at 8-7. Freshman Jack Hogan (Minneapolis, Minn.) plated the first run with an RBI triple, followed by a sac fly off the bat of sophomore Tim Kuzinar (Lakeville, Minn.).
In Wheaton's half of the sixth, Haugh drove in his second of the game with a sac fly to center that brought in senior Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) and pushed Wheaton's lead back to two at 9-7. After the Tommies climbed to within one at 9-8 on an RBI single by Bruchu in their half of the eighth, the Lyons responded with four in their half of the inning to build a 13-8 lead. Landers scored on a wild pitch, Haugh hit a sac fly to center, and De la Cruz doubled home Ryan and then scored on a wild pitch to account for the Wheaton runs.
Sophomore closer Ryan Grant (Easton, Mass./Oliver Ames) - who allowed one in the eighth after coming on in relief of senior David Longley(Brunswick, Maine/Brunswick) - loaded the bases in the ninth and surrendered one before slamming the door on St. Thomas.
Laliberte picked up his fourth win of the season after allowing four hits and three runs in 3.1 innings of work. Corr, meanwhile, surrendered seven hits and four runs with no walks or strikeouts and received a no-decision. Gapinski suffered his first loss of the season for the Tommies, allowing eight hits and eight runs (five earned) with no walks and two strikeouts in 2.1 IP.
Wheaton fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first behind five hits and a trio of errors. Junior Dylan Thomas (Lakeville, Minn.) drove in the game's first run with a double to left-center, followed by an RBI single by senior Charles Bruchu (Lake Elmo, Minn.) to make it 2-0. Senior Nick Reichert (Minneapolis, Minn.) followed with a single to left that led to the Tommies third run of the inning on an error by the Lyons.
In the bottom of the frame, Ryan tripled to right-center and scored on a wild pitch to bring the Lyons to within two at 3-1. The Tommies tacked on a run in the second on an RBI double by Bruchu, which chased Corr.
Wheaton answered with two in its half of the frame on Gusovsky's two-run home run over the left field wall to get to within one at 4-3. The round tripper was the first of the season for Gusovsky and his second-career in the NCAA Tournament. An RBI single by senior Dan Reichert (Mounds View, Minn.) extended St. Thomas' lead to 5-3 before the Lyons five-run rally in the third.
Foley's five hits tied the single-game record while Landers, De la Cruz, Gusovsky, and junior Eric Jensen (Gorham, N.H./Gorham) each recorded two hits. D. Reichert went 4-for-5 for the Tommies, who play Cortland State in an elimination game Tuesday at noon.