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College Baseball: Penmen eliminated at Division II World Series

Special to the Union Leader

May 31. 2018 6:58PM

CARY, N.C. — The Southern New Hampshire baseball team got seven hits in Thursday's Division II College World Series game against Augustana (S.D.), only one fewer than it did about 18 hours earlier in an win against UC San Diego.

The difference is that this time, the Penmen weren't able to bunch them together and turn them into runs.

One day after scoring seven times, coach Scott Loiseau's East Region champions were able to cross the plate only twice in dropping an 8-2 decision to the Vikings at the USA Baseball Training Complex.

The loss was SNHU's second of the double-elimination national championship tournament, ending its season with a 41-17 record.

“It's hard to say the bats went silent. We had seven hits. We just didn't capitalize by getting the big hits and getting the run in,” said right fielder Caleb Potter, who had two of the hits and an RBI. “You have to give credit to Augustana's pitcher, but honestly we fought to the end.”

While the Penmen were having their troubles getting timely hits, it seemed as though their opponent was able to cash in on virtually every opportunity that presented itself.

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first by scoring on a double play ball, the Vikings (51-9) produced three runs in the second with a rally that started after SNHU starter Andrew Lalonde, of Bedford, struck out the first two batters of the inning. To make matters worse, the spark that ignited the uprising came from the eighth and ninth hitters in the order.

Those bottom two, catcher Ryan Menssen and second baseman J.T. Mix, also got things started in the fourth by setting the table with a single and walk.

Once they got on base, No. 2 hitter Michael Svozil inevitably got them home. The Augustana left fielder finished the game with two singles, a double and four RBIs.

“Their three-run inning was two outs, no one on and I'm pretty sure the next run they scored was two outs and nobody on, so those guys extended some innings.” Loiseau said. “That kid Svozil really killed us today. He played really well and came up in big spots.”

SNHU got off to a solid enough start by tying the game at 1 on singles by Sam Henrie and Kyle Pangallo, followed by a run-scoring error.

An inning later, the Penmen answered Augustana's big inning with another run on a Thomas Buonopane single and Potter's RBI double. But they were able to manage only two more hits the rest of the way, getting a runner as far as second base only once against Vikings ace Tyler Mitzel and two relievers.

It was the second time in the World Series that Mitzel beat the Penmen in Cary. He also pitched his team to a 5-2 win in the tournament opener last Saturday.

Although Loiseau refused to use fatigue as an excuse, SNHU looked like a tired team as the game went on.

The Penmen didn't finish off their win over UCSD until after 1 a.m. Thursday and, according to Potter, it was after 3 before he was able to get to sleep. The late night was complicated by a schedule change that moved Thursday's game up to a 1 p.m. start because of concerns about the weather.

Augustana, by contrast, hadn't played since Sunday after winning its first two games over the weekend.

“For us, we really didn't care,” Potter said of the quick turnaround. “We just wanted to go play.

“We've dealt with situations like that up in the north, having weather difficulties, having to play late games and having to play the next day. I don't think fatigue came into play. We just didn't get the big hits when we needed them.”

And Augustana, which will play either Columbus State or Florida Southern for the national championship on Saturday, did.

“They did a good job,” Loiseau said. “There's really not much more I can say than that. They pitched better. They hit in spots and they beat us.”