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Scots Stunned by Bethel’s Ninth-Inning Rally in Regional

Eli Westrick, Wooster Baseball ALTON, Illinois – Two breaks did not go The College of Wooster's way in the top of the ninth inning, then Bethel University (Minnesota) capitalized with a seven-run rally to top the Fighting Scots 12-7 on Friday afternoon at Lloyd Hopkins Field.

Now, Wooster (30-15) will have to work its way through the elimination bracket, which starts with a 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT contest against Crown College (Minnesota) (30-14) on Saturday, May 21. The winner of that game stays alive and faces the loser of the 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT winners' bracket game between fifth-ranked Webster University (38-6) and Bethel (34-9). First pitch of Saturday's second elimination game is slated for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

Wooster carried a 7-5 lead into Friday's ninth inning and was in position to potentially end the game after issuing an intentional walk to Bethel left fielder Justin Winterfeldt that loaded the bases. Wooster senior right-hander Ben Gbur did his job to get a ground ball. However, junior second baseman Dean Brown had trouble gathering the ball in, thus preventing him from attempting to start a potential game-ending double play. Bethel pulled within 7-6 on right fielder Ty Kohen's RBI fielder's choice, then first baseman Keenan Hodgkin's single sliced just far enough away from a hard-charging senior right fielder Ben Hines, who was unable to secure the catch. The game-tying run scored on the play, then Bethel took the lead on catcher Noah Wenberg's two-run single.

Hines sparked Wooster in the fifth inning with a two-out single to left center. The Scots' speedster swiped base 28 of the year with senior shortstop Tyler Chumita at the dish. Wooster's RBI leader followed suit with a run-producing double to left center, and on the play, the Scots' All-American became the program's all-time leader in single-season RBI with number 78. Next, sophomore designated hitter Eli Westrick put a charge into a pitch for a two-run round-tripper, and that blast put Wooster up 5-4.

In the sixth inning, Brown scored on a wild pitch that made it 6-4, while in the eighth inning, junior first baseman Dane Camphausen answered Bethel's run in the top of the frame with an opposite-field solo homer that made it a 7-5 game.

Wooster's outfield made a noticeable difference in Friday's game. Senior left fielder Dominic Stilliana chased down a fly ball and made a spectacular diving catch in the first inning. In the sixth inning, Gbur, playing center field, cruised to the gap with ease to get to a fly ball off the bat of sophomore Jordan Krupke. In the ninth inning, Stilliana tracked down a fly ball tailing away from him near the line, and while a run did score on the sacrifice fly, the senior's speed kept additional runs from scoring on the play. Elsewhere, Chumita started a 6-4-3 double play that ended the seventh inning.

Earlier in the game, Wooster turned to small ball to answer Bethel's first-inning run. Hines executed a sacrifice bunt that advanced Gbur, who walked to lead off the first inning, into scoring position. Two batters later, Westrick came through on the squeeze, with Gbur scoring on the play.

Small ball continued in the second inning, as senior catcher Michael Thomas' sacrifice bunt moved Brown, who singled to right field to start the inning, up to second. Stilliana then ripped an RBI single down the left field line that gave Wooster a 2-1 lead. The score stayed there until Bethel's three-run fifth inning.

Blake Williams earned the win after allowing a run on two hits in three innings. Wooster roughed up Bethel ace Max Sutter for six runs on nine hits in six innings.

Gbur took the loss after allowing six runs on six hits in 1 1/3 inning of relief. Junior Ethan Samangy bridged the gap between senior starter Mitchell Reardon and Gbur with two scoreless innings of relief.

Wooster is in a familiar spot as it dropped the regional opener in its last appearance, then stormed back with four straight victories to win the 2019 Wooster Regional at Art Murray Field.