APPLETON, Wis. — The first day of the NCAA Division III national baseball championship tournament began with a couple surprises at Fox Cities Stadium.
In the opener, the University of St. Thomas of St. Paul, Minnesota, stunned the defending national champs, Linfield College of Oregon, 10-0 as Eric Veglahn pitched perfect ball for the first seven innings. He ended up with a two-hitter, striking out 12 and walking only one.
Then in the second game, tournament darling Baldwin-Wallace University edged Emory University 5-4 with an eighth-inning run.
Baldwin-Wallace, located in Berea, Ohio, is the ultimate comeback story of the tournament.
The Yellow Jackets finished fourth in the Ohio Athletic Conference, needing two other schools to lose on the last day of the regular season to gain the last spot in the conference tournament. There they finished second and everyone thought the season was over. Players turned in their uniforms and went home.
But they received an at-large bid, then won their Regional.
“Speaking on behalf of the seniors, it’s almost like we got a second wind,” said pitcher Jon Capadona, who pitched six shutout innings in relief Friday. “And we just came together. It’s almost like a new season for us. And we had no doubt that we would win that Regional.”
SUNY-Cortland won the third game of the day, holding on to beat Salisbury 4-3 despite making five errors.
IF THE name of SUNY-Cortland Coach Joe Brown sounds familiar, it should.
Brown was the coach of the Sanford Mainers of the New England Collegiate Baseball League for two years, leading the Mainers to the championship in 2008.
Not only that, while he was born in New York, his family moved to Maine when he was young. He spent several years here before moving back to New York.
CHRIS BERNARD, USM’s senior outfielder/pitcher/designated hitter from Scarborough, was honored as a third-team Rawlings/ABCA All-America selection.
He is the 26th USM player to be honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association since 1982.
Bernard is hitting .332 with four home runs, 46 RBI and a team-leading 20 doubles. In seven starts, he had a 2-3 pitching record with a 6.07 earned-run average.
“For two years he’s been a key cog in our lineup,” said Ed Flaherty, coach of the Huskies. “It’s a deserving honor and a nice one because his pitching didn’t turn out like he hoped it would. It’s nice that he was able to hit like he did.”
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: