College of Wooster completes improbable comeback to win NCAA regional

The College of Wooster celebrates its improbable regional title after beating Bethel twice in elimination games Monday.

The College of Wooster celebrates its improbable regional title after beating Bethel twice in elimination games Monday.

ALTON, Ill. — The complete package — clutch power hitting, gold-glove-worthy defense, and dominant pitching performances — led to another jaw-dropping remarkable regional comeback for The College of Wooster baseball team, which topped Bethel University (Minnesota) twice on Monday at Lloyd Hopkins Field to win the Alton Regional. Wooster, which won four straight games after dropping Friday’s regional opener against Bethel 12-7, forced the winner-take-all game with an 11-8 win over the Royals, then took the finale 11-6.

Now, Wooster (34-15) is set to meet up with defending national champion Salisbury University (34-9) in the Super Regional, which is set to be contested May 27-28. Wooster will travel to Salisbury for the best-of-three game series, as announced by the NCAA on Monday.

Junior first baseman Dane Camphausen provided the clutch power hitting in the winner-take-all game, first with a game-tying two-run single through the left side in the fourth inning, then with a grand slam that had just enough mustard on it to clear the right-field wall in the fifth inning. Senior right fielder Ben Hines – Friday’s hero with the walk-off two-run home run in an elimination game versus fifth-ranked Webster University – started the fourth inning off with a single up the middle, then senior shortstop Tyler Chumita laced a single through the right side. Sophomore second baseman Eli Westrick reached on a sacrifice bunt-turned error, which loaded the bases, then Camphausen tied the score.

Wooster was not done yet, as two batters later, a sacrifice fly off the bat of first-year third baseman Nick Pett pulled Wooster ahead for good. Later in the frame, senior left fielder Dominic Stilliana knocked in Camphausen on a single to left center.

A four-run fifth, with all the runs scoring on Camphausen’s 11th round-tripper of the year, opened an 8-2 lead for the Scots. Leading up to the blast, senior center fielder Ben Gbur singled to left field, Hines beat out a sacrifice bunt for an infield single, and Westrick loaded the bases when he was plunked by Bethel (35-11) relief pitcher Michael Meadows.

Bethel made things interesting in the seventh inning with a four-run frame to pull within 8-6 before junior left-hander Ryan Sullivan got center fielder Matthew Carlsen to fly out to Stilliana in left. Wooster tacked on insurance in the eighth inning, thanks to Gbur, who helped his cause out with a three-run homer to left field in what was his regional-leading fourth dinger.

Prior to Gbur’s insurance round-tripper, Westrick got to a high chopper up the middle off the bat of Ty Koehn in the top of the eighth inning and shifted his momentum 180 degrees just in time to get his glove on the bag to retire the lead runner on a fielder’s choice. Following that, Hines made a spectacular diving catch in foul territory for the final out of the inning.

Junior Owen Barnard (3-0), pitching on no-days rest, was absolutely phenomenal on the bump. He mitigated the damage, allowing two unearned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of work. Junior Ethan Samangy, who pitched in all five of Wooster’s games at the regional, got a fly out on his first pitch to get the Scots out of the sixth inning. Sullivan had a scoreless inning on his line, then Gbur had two scoreless frames en route to earning his fourth save of the year.

Max Sutter, Bethel’s ace, went 3 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on five hits. He fell to 7-3.

Earlier in the tournament, Bethel’s seven-run ninth inning pierced Wooster’s hearts, and the Scots returned the favor with a six-spot in the seventh inning to force the winner-take-all game. Wooster, which trailed Monday’s opener 6-1 at one point, took the lead on Gbur’s three-run home run that cleared the wall in right field. Gbur’s homer marked his team-leading 13th of the year, and it gave Wooster a 7-6 lead.

Prior to taking the lead in the seventh inning, Camphausen singled up the middle, then junior designated hitter Dean Brown’s blooper fell in right center. Next, Pett’s single up the middle plated Camphausen, and that pulled Wooster within 6-3. Two batters later, senior catcher Michael Thomas deposited a run-scoring single into right field that made it 6-4.

Chumita kept the seventh inning going with a single up the middle, and he scored when right fielder Koehn was unable to make a diving catch on Westrick’s RBI three-bagger.

Thomas provided the needed insurance in the eighth inning with his third three-run home run of the regional, and that upped the Scots’ lead to 11-6.

Senior Mitchell Reardon’s relief work was instrumental in Wooster forcing the winner-take-all contest. Bethel got to Brown and Reardon for a four-run third inning, then Reardon settled in. The left-hander hung a strikeout backwards on second baseman Nolan Jurgenson’s line, then got Carlsen to ground out to Westrick, as Wooster stranded two Bethel runners on the bases to escape further damage in the third inning. Wooster’s ace worked one-two-three fourth and sixth innings, during which just two Royals reached base spanning innings four through seven and neither moved into scoring position.

Samangy collected his second save of the year. The right-hander stranded a Royal on the bases in the eighth inning when he struck out Bethel left fielder Justin Winterfeldt, then he sent the Royals back to the dugout in order in the ninth inning.

Marcus Krupke took the loss after allowing eight runs on 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Gbur went 5-for-10 with six RBI, four runs scored, and two home runs on the day. Of note, he tied Trevor Urban’s 1997 single-season record with 79 runs during Monday’s sweep, and he became just the fourth player in program history to have 75 hits and 75 runs in a single year.

Camphausen backed that up, finishing 5-for-9 with six RBI, four runs, and the grand slam.

Koehn led Bethel, going 5-for-9 with two runs scored on the day.

Of note, this is the second straight time Wooster has won a regional after dropping the opening game. The Scots previously won four in a row in 2019. Overall, this is Wooster’s eighth regional title with the others coming in 1989, 1994, 1997, 2005, 2009, 2018, and 2019.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: College of Wooster completes comeback to win NCAA regional