APPLETON, WI – The Redhawks record-setting season came to an end in the NCAA DIII National Semifinals as they lost to Keystone College 5-4 in ten innings. Keystone will face Trinity (TX) in a best of three National Championship Series starting tomorrow at 11am (CT).
Freshmen starter Nick Tunstall cruised through the first two innings getting three groundouts in the first inning and three flyouts in the second. Ben Herstine gave Tunstall some breathing room in the second with a solo shot over the left field wall for a team-record 55th RBI of the season.
Tunstall did not allow a hit until the fourth inning when Keystone tied it up on a Bill Nelson RBI single to left centerfield. Tunstall limited the damage getting a flyout to escape a jam with men on first and third.
The Redhawks took back the lead on another Tyler Craig RBI. Velez led off the fifth with a double to the left-field gap and scored on Craig's single up the middle. Tunstall then got a 5-3 groundout to leave a Keystone runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth.
The Giants put runners at the corners with no outs in the seventh inning but Tunstall again pitched his way out of the jam. Keystone's Robbie Nardelli lined a double just out of the reach of Ian Velez and Alex Herceg got on base to put runners at first and third. Tunstall responded with a line out, fly out, ground out to keep the Redhawks up a run entering the eighth.
Keystone starter Billy Nelson retired the Redhawks' first two hitters in the eighth but Herstine drew a full-count walk and David Lemley made the Giants pay. Lemley hit a 1-0 pitch deep over the right-centerfield wall to break the school's single season home run record and put La Roche on top 4-1.
Robbie Nardelli drove a 2-out 2-run single up the middle to cut La Roche's lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth. Relief pitcher Shane Emrich got Herceg to pop up to the mound in the next at bat to keep La Roche up a run heading into the ninth.
Keystone was down to their final out but two hit by pitches put runners on first and second. Nate Ross chopped a hit passed the third base bag to score Louis Reyes from second and tie things up. Emirch then got Bill Nelson to fly out to center to send it to extra innings.
Aus Chaser started Keystone's half of the tenth with single into left and Tony Hunter, pinch running for Chaser, advance to second on a sacrifice bunt. Herceg flew out to left for the second out. Rand Torres came to the plate and struck out on a pitch in the dirt but reached first on an errant throw. Reyes then won it on a sharply hit ball to third.
Tunstall allowed just one run while scattering five hits over seven innings of work. Velez had three hits, Lemley 2 RBIs and Herstine scored twice.