APPLETON, Wis. – Whitworth’s magical first trip to the NCAA Division III World Series came to a heart-breaking end following a 5-4 loss to SUNY Cortland on Monday morning at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Pirates’ season ends with a record of 31-16-1. Whitworth smashed the previous school record for wins in a season and advanced to the NCAA Division III finals in its first trip to the DIII national tournament after winning the McMinnville Regional.
The 2nd-ranked Red Dragons improved to 41-8-1 and advance to Tuesday’s round of the final four teams.
“We would have liked this to last longer,” said Whitworth head coach Dan Ramsay in the post-game press conference. “But this group of seniors deserved everything they accomplished this year and they have nothing to hang their heads about.”
Cortland jumped ahead in bottom of the first on Michael LaTempa’s two-run single. Then Whitworth starting pitcher Spencer Ansett settled down and shutout Cortland over the next four innings.
The Pirates rallied for three runs in the top of the third inning to go into the lead. All-American outfielder Tyler Pfeffer stroked his school-record 23rd double to drive in Gerhard Muelheims with the first run. JR Jarrell followed with an RBI single that scored Pfeffer and Joshua Davis drove in the final run with a squeeze bunt that the defense could not handle. But Cortland escaped further damage by turning an important double play.
The Red Dragons took the lead for good in the sixth when Max Rosing’s long double to right center scored John Adornetto. Rosing scored the go-ahead run on P.J. Rinaldi’s single.
Cortland added what proved to be a crucial insurance run in the seventh on Adornetto’s RBI single back up the middle.
JR Jarrell, who went 6-8 with five RBIs in the Pirates’ final two games of the season, drove in Landon Scott with a double to right center field in the eighth inning. But the Bucs were unable to get the tying run home.
Paul Miller led off the top of the ninth with a walk and Ryan Beecroft sacrificed him to second base. But Cortland closing pitcher Tom Nagy got the final two outs to secure the win.
“More than anything we learned we belong here,” Ramsay said. “We feel like reaching Appleton should be a goal for our team from here on out and we definitely want to get back.”
Jarrell finished 3-3 with two RBIs in his final game, while fellow senior Kevin Valerio went 2-4. Scott, also playing his final game, scored twice.
Ansett allowed five runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings and fell to 8-4 this season. Jason Renner pitched the final 1.2 innings and did not allow a run.
Andornetto went 2-3 with and RBI and two runs scored to lead Cortland. Starting pitcher Mike Hughes went 7.1 innings and allowed four runs on nine hits to improve to 9-2. Nagy’s save was his fourth of the season.
Cortland will play St. Thomas University on Tuesday.