APPLETON, Wis. — Ed Flaherty sat at the head table of the postgame press conference with three of his University of Southern Maine players – hitting star Forrest Chadwick, winning pitcher Andrew Richards and shortstop Sam Dexter – when he noted, “You know what gets lost here in this whole thing? Glauser’s home run.’’
Jake Glauser’s leadoff homer in the fifth inning Saturday sparked the Huskies to a 6-3 victory over Salisbury (Maryland) University, keeping them alive in the NCAA Division III national tournament at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Huskies, who had just five hits in their opening 8-1 loss Friday night, trailed the Sea Gulls 2-1 entering the top of the fifth. Glauser hit a towering home run over the left-field fence – the first for USM in the championship tournament – to tie the game.
“Any time you’re down in a game, just getting even loosens you up a bit,’’ said Flaherty. “That was a big, big hit for us.’’
Four of the next five USM hitters got hits, with Dexter driving in a run and Chadwick two as the Huskies took a 5-2 lead. USM had five hits in that inning and got everyone loose again.
“I think that one big inning is key for us,’’ said Dexter. “It usually takes that one big inning to propel our offense. With Jake leading off, I think it sparked the rest of the lineup. And then we were able to bust that thing open.’’
USM will play Baldwin Wallace – which lost 5-4 on Saturday to St. Thomas of Minnesota – at 1 p.m. Sunday in another elimination game. Baldwin Wallace is from Berea, Ohio.
ABOUT TWO hours before USM took on Salisbury, Flaherty was standing in the concourse of Fox Cities Stadium when it was mentioned to him that Manny Machado was out of the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup. That meant his son, Ryan Flaherty, was in the lineup again.
“I know, I just watched him get robbed of a hit,’’ said Flaherty. “Maybe I should stop watching. I think I’m jinxing him.’’
THE BIG surprise of the tournament? Defending champ Linfield College of McMinnville, Oregon, is gone. The Wildcats lost their elimination game to Emory University of Atlanta 8-5 on Saturday.
Linfield’s strength was supposed to be its starting pitching, but the Wildcats got down early in both games.
“We probably weren’t our best versions of ourselves for these two games,’’ said Scott Brosius, the former Yankees World Series hero and current coach of the Wildcats. “If you’re going to get beat, you want to get beat at your best and that didn’t happen. We picked a bad two days to not play our best baseball.’’
RICHARDS’ PITCHING is such a key to the Huskies success. But he noted afterward that “it’s easy to pitch when you’ve got these guys behind you.’’
USM played some exceptional defense Saturday. Third baseman Troy Thibodeau made a couple of nice plays: a scooping nab and spinning throw to get a runner leading off the sixth, then starting a double play in the seventh. Then Dexter made a long running over-the-shoulder catch of a popup in short center field to end the seventh.
“I was just trying to keep my ball down in the strike zone,” said Richards, who threw 53 pitches (41 for strikes) in 52/3 innings of relief. “My ball was moving and I was trying to throw strikes.’’
THIS WAS the last game for Salisbury Coach Doug Fleetwood. He had announced his retirement earlier in the season. “It’s been a good run,’’ he said, pausing to gather himself, “but it’s over.’’
WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER is an extremely impressive team. In beating USM 8-1 on Friday night, the Warhawks put their hitting prowess on display in the early innings, scoring three in each of the first two innings.
Wisconsin-Whitewater was spurred on by a partisan crowd. Of the 2,349 fans who watched the late game, about 2,000 likely were cheering on the Warhawks. Not surprising because Whitewater is only about 110 miles away.
“You’ve got a team here that’s got energy in that first inning from the crowd,’’ said Flaherty. “We’ve got nerves. These kids probably haven’t played in front of a crowd like that so we don’t make a few plays. They got energy from their crowd and got rolling.’’
But the Warhawks also have another factor pushing them forward: They are attempting to become the first team in NCAA history – in all divisions – to win national championships in football, basketball and baseball in the same academic year.
Wisconsin-Whitewater won the Division III football championship in the fall, beating Mount Union 52-14, and the men’s basketball title in the winter, beating Williams, 75-73.
USM’S GAME with Wisconsin-Whitewater easily drew the biggest crowd of the opening day’s four games. The other three games averaged 1,462 fans at Fox Cities Stadium, which is also the home field for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The stadium itself is a beautiful park. Center field is 400 feet away, and it’s 325 down both lines. Fans here love their Brewers, evidenced by the abundance of hats, shirts and posters around the park.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: