APPLETON, Wis. – Forrest Chadwick watched the Millsaps College relief pitcher throw the four straight balls to intentionally walk Tucker White to load the bases.
Chadwick understood what he needed to do. It was the top of the 10th inning with one out in the opening game of the NCAA Division III baseball championships Friday. The game was tied.
Within moments it wasn’t.
The University of Southern Maine beat Millsaps 2-1 on Chadwick’s grounder past infielders creeping closer to home plate, hoping for a forceout. The single brought home Jake Glauser with the go-ahead run.
“Any time the bases are loaded, you get a little amped up,” said Chadwick. He checked his heart rate. It was steady.
Chadwick, who knew Millsaps’ freshman reliever, Harper Grier, was a sinkerball pitcher, waited for a sinker that didn’t sink and got it. The bases remained full after the single, but Grier got the next two outs.
Andrew Richards then walked to the mound for his fifth inning of scoreless relief. He gave up a single to Stephen Gates with one out, then got two fly-ball outs. Suddenly the USM players ran to the mound, congratulating Richards and each other.
Next for the Huskies is Linfield (Ore.) College at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Linfield, coached by Scott Brosius, the former New York Yankees third baseman and 1998 World Series MVP, held off a late rally to beat Ithaca 8-6 in the tournament’s second game.
Freshman Shyler Scates got the start for USM and hit Gates, the Millsaps leadoff hitter.
“I was so excited when I got the text from (Coach Ed Flaherty the night before),” said Scates. “I was feeling the adrenaline when the game started. I got a little nervous and I was trying to work inside.”
Flaherty made a quick trip to talk to his young pitcher. It’s the first game, you’re a little jittery, you’ll be fine, Scates remembers hearing. Two of his next three outs were strikeouts.
“I made two mistakes in the game,” said Scates.
The first was to Gates, who led off the third with a low liner to the left-field corner for a double. Keith Shumaker followed with a single, driving home Gates for the game’s first run.
“I couldn’t get him out all day,” said Scates. Actually, he struck out Shumaker in the first. Shumaker did lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double, knocking Scates out of the game.
“I felt good knowing (Richards) was coming in,” said Scates. “He’s been taking care of us all year. I did my job.”
So did Millsaps starter Will Edwards. He kept USM hitters off balance for much of the game, mixing effective breaking pitches with his fastball. He gave up one run and allowed only five hits before leaving in the 10th under unusual circumstances.
Glauser, pinch hitting for Troy Thibodeau, worked a walk. Sam Dexter sacrificed. Gates, the first baseman, fielded the bunt but in pivoting to force Glauser at second, hit Edwards in the head with the throw and the ball bounced to third base.
Glauser and Dexter were safe on first and second, and Edwards was on the ground, curled in the fetal position, holding his head.
“I was lollygagging to cover first and got in the way,” said Edwards, who left the game. “I’m OK. I think the throw was too short to really hurt me.”
Grier came in and walked White intentionally, bringing up Chadwick.
It was a tense game, marked by good execution and thinking. In the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Wall of Millsaps led off with a single, bringing Flaherty out for a conference with Richards, catcher Matt Verrier and the infielders.
Flaherty expected a bunt. Or maybe Samuel Doucet would pull back and slash a hit past the charging infielders. Flaherty called for a pitchout.
Wall, running on the pitch, was thrown out easily at second.
In the eighth, Blake Littlejohn was thrown out at second by White with two outs, trying to stretch a single into a double.
Millsaps Coach Jim Page had no quarrels with Littlejohn’s decision. “I thought we had been playing a little timid. We needed to go for it.”
Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: