APPLETON, Wis. — The magical season is over. Linfield (Ore.) College beat the University of Southern Maine, 4-1, Tuesday evening for the NCAA Division III baseball championship. The final loss came less than three hours after USM beat Ithaca (N.Y.) College, 5-4, in 13 innings to reach the final game.
Andrew Richards, incredibly, started the championship game after working 12 innings in relief for the day’s first win. He lasted 3 and 1/3 innings against Linfield (42-8).
In a twist, Logan Carman, USM’s ace and still nursing a severe forearm bruise on his throwing arm, relieved Richards and finished the game.
USM (46-10) scored its only run in the first inning on a wild pitch. Chris Haddeland, the d3baseball.com Pitcher of the Year, shut out USM over the remaining eight innings.
This story is breaking news and will be updated.
Andrew Richards’ resilient right arm held up for 12 innings of relief or long enough for Chris Bernard to hit his game-winning triple Tuesday, giving the University of Southern Maine a 5-4 win over Ithaca in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.
USM now has about an hour to regroup before playing Linfield (Ore.) College for the national championship at Fox Cities Stadium.
Richards threw 152 pitches, 103 for strikes, after relieving freshman Shylar Scates in the second inning. The South Portland sophomore had appeared in three of USM’s first four games in the tournament.
Monday was his only day of rest. He allowed an inherited runner to score in the second and two more runs in a tense, see-saw game.
Bernard actually hit a two-run homer in the top of the 13th inning but in the celebration at home, never stopped on the plate. He was out and was given credit for a triple. But instead of giving Richards a two-run lead to take into the bottom of the 13th, it was a one-run ballgame.
Richards allowed a bouncing infield single over his head to start the bottom of the 13th but got the three outs for USM’s 46th win of the season against nine defeats. More importantly, it put USM in the championship game with the chance to win its third national baseball championship.
As of 4:45 p.m. EDT, USM Coach had not announced a starting pitcher for the title game.