MOLINE – The Adrian College baseball team had their chances to put themselves in a very favorable position on Thursday night in the NCAA Division III Central Regional. The Bulldogs left 11 runners on base including two men in the bottom of the ninth in a 3-2 loss to No. 19 Concordia-Chicago at Augustana College's Swanson Stadium.
The Cougars led 1-0 after the first inning and increased their lead to 2-0 with a run in the top of the seventh. Adrian cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Ben Yax had a one-out single through the right side and moved to second on a groundout. Andrew DeLuca then hit a RBI double to left center.
Concordia-Chicago added a run in the top of the eighth for a 3-1 lead. Rich Santarelli had a RBI single on a 0-2 pitch by Tommy Eng who inherited bases loaded with one out. Eng made a nice play to force out a runner at home for the second out and got a groundout to limit any further damage.
Adrian got back to 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth as Sam Fischer drew a one-out walk and Mitch Stefanski was hit by a pitch. R.J. Rios delivered a two-out RBI single to right to score Fischer and move Stefanski to third. Steve Cox, the closer for the Cougars, entered the game and got a Yax strikeout to end the inning.
Adrian had one last chance to tie the game in the ninth as Jamey Sackett was hit by a pitch with two outs and Taylor Milligan ran for him at first. Dan Heatherly reached on a fielding error at third base and Milligan was in scoring position. Fischer took a 1-2 pitch and flew out to center for the final out.
Holden Branch took the loss (7-2) going seven strong innings and allowing two earned runs. Branch threw 98 pitches (66 strikes) and walked one with one strikeout.Jeff Davis threw one-third of an inning and hit two guys allowing one earned run. Eng threw 1.2 innings and gave up one hit with two strikeouts. DeLuca was the only multi-hit Bulldog going 2-for-4 with his 12th double. Heatherly hit his 11th double in five at-bats. Garrett Green also had a double in three at-bats.
C.J. Selner tied up Adrian hitters most of the night going 6.2 innings and allowing seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Cox picked up his 13th save going the final 1.1 innings with a pair of punchouts. Shawn Miller went 2-for-5 with his 15th double and a RBI. Santarelli and Steve Zubrzycki combined to 4-for-8 with a RBI in the eight and nine spots in the Cougar lineup. Selner improved to 5-0 this season throwing 99 pitches with 67 strikes.
Adrian now will play top-seeded Webster (33-10) who earlier on Thursday lost 5-3 to host Augustana. It will be an elimination game set for noon local central time on Friday.