APPLETON, Wis. — One more down for the University of Southern Maine baseball team. Four more to go?
The Huskies won their second elimination game in the NCAA Division III national baseball championships, as Forrest Chadwick and Matt Verrier each drove in four runs Sunday afternoon to pace USM to an 11-5 victory over Baldwin Wallace University at Fox Cities Stadium.
After scoring just one run and getting five hits in their opening-game loss Friday, the Huskies have produced 17 runs and 23 hits in their two elimination victories.
“It’s just good to keep going on,’’ said USM Coach Ed Flaherty. “You survive and advance, play one game at a time and we did a pretty good job of that today.’’
And now the Huskies (37-14) will play Emory University at 1 p.m. Monday in another elimination game. If they win that, they’ll play a second game Monday.
And if they want to win the school’s third national championship, the Huskies would have to win another two games Tuesday.
But Sunday, they weren’t thinking about that. They were just happy with their latest comeback. USM trailed 3-0 after four innings.
The Huskies, handcuffed for four innings by the Yellow Jackets’ freshman starting pitcher, Logan Heffernan, battered eight Baldwin Wallace pitchers over the final five innings for all their runs and 11 of their 12 hits.
“I’d like us to start a little more aggressively early in the game so we could have some room to breath a little bit,” said Flaherty. “The stars show up when the bigger games count.’’
That would be Chadwick, still hobbled by a left quad injury suffered two weeks ago that prevents him from running full speed, and Verrier. Chadwick had three hits, including a double, and drove in the tying runs in a five-run fifth inning. Verrier had two hits and drove in the go-ahead runs in the fifth inning.
“The guy just does it all for us,’’ Verrier said of Chadwick.
The script Sunday for USM was very similar to Saturday: bring in reliever Andrew Richards in the fourth inning, then take the lead with a big inning in the fifth.
The Huskies were trailing 2-0 and Baldwin Wallace had a runner on second and a 1-1 count on John Taylor when Flaherty took out starter Tyler Leavitt in favor of Richards, who earned the win Saturday with 52/3 innings of relief. Richards gave up a sacrifice fly that made it 3-0 but got out of the inning without further damage.
And he said, “with these guys hitting, three runs? That’s not too much.’’
He was right. The Huskies went to work at bat in the top of the fifth, the same as Saturday when they scored four in the fifth. This time it was five.
With two outs and Jake Glauser (single) on first, Paul McDonough walked. John Carey fell behind in the count, then lined a single into right field, with Glauser scoring on a head-first slide and McDonough going to third on the throw.
Sam Dexter walked on five pitches to load the bases for Chadwick. On a 3-2 pitch, Chadwick bounced a single into center field, scoring McDonough and Carey. Chadwick then stole second when no one covered the base on an 0-2 pitch to Verrier. Two pitches later, Verrier shot a grounder past reliever Mark Zimmerman and Dexter and Chadwick both scored to make it 5-3.
“It’s all about momentum, either creating momentum on your side or stopping it on theirs,’’ said Brian Harrison, the Yellow Jackets’ head coach. “We didn’t stop the bleeding in that inning.’’
Both Verrier and Chadwick said it was a matter of becoming more patient at the plate.
“I think we’re a fastball hitting team,” said Verrier. “Early on, pitchers like to throw the fastball. I think we’re up there ready to whack at it. And if it’s not in our zone, we get ourselves out. So later on, we wait until that ball comes down a little bit and we jump on it.’’
The Yellow Jackets got a run off Richards in the bottom of the sixth, but USM responded with another big inning in the top of the seventh.
The Huskies loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a single by Dexter. Verrier singled in two runs. Then with two outs, Matt Bender doubled home two more to make it 9-4.
Chadwick finished the scoring with a two-run double into the right-field corner in the eighth.
“Any time you hit with a lead it takes a little bit of the pressure off,’’ said Chadwick. “We were anxious to start. When we got that five-run inning we were being more patient and trying to get our pitch. And when we got our pitch we did something with it.’’
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: