Winston-Salem St.Stays Alive With 10-8 Victory Over Millersville

Winston-Salem State’s Landon Steiner, center, is congratulated near home plate after belting a two-run home run in the third inning of Saturday’s losers’ bracket game in the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional at Diethrick Park. The Rams defeated Millersville, 10-8. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Winston-Salem State University had the longest trip to make of any of the seven teams that qualified for the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional this week at Diethrick Park.

After Saturday’s performance, though, the North Carolina school is beginning to feel right at home.

John Garcia collected three hits and drove in two runs; Landon Steiner had two hits, including a two-run home run; and Ivan Acuna added two hits, including a two-run double, to lead the Rams to a 10-8 victory over Millersville in a marathon losers’ bracket game.

“We’re not even close to being the most talented team,” Winston-Salem coach Kevin Ritsche said. “We’ve just got guys who love to play baseball. We may not do some things right. We may not be, at times, the most baseball savvy and classiest team, but it’s their mentality and their makeup. We’re a pretty loose group.”

The victory, which improved the Rams’ record to 2-1 in the tournament and 37-18 overall, advanced them into another elimination game at 11 a.m. today against Shippensburg, which defeated Shepherd, 10-5, yesterday.

Millersville’s Chas McCormick, right, is greeted by his coach, Jon Shehan, after his two-run triple in the fourth inning broke the PSAC career hits record. McCormick finished the day with three hits to end his career with 305. P-J photo by Scott Kindberg

Millersville, the 2016 national runner-up, finishes its season, 34-19.

“Most of these guys, to be honest, probably haven’t been on too many winning teams before,” Ritsche said. “To come here and put pressure on them I think wouldn’t work, and so we kind of let them go out there and relax.

“I don’t think they know the significance of knocking out the national runner-up out of the regional tournament. I don’t think they understand that, and that’s a good thing.”

The Rams scored in six of the nine innings against four Millersville pitchers, taking the lead for good in the third inning.

“We just flat out didn’t play good baseball from about the fifth inning on (on Friday) and we didn’t pitch, which is uncharacteristic of our club, our program and our kids,” Millersville coach Jon Shehan said. “We had a couple opportunities to take care of the baseball. We should have done a better job of that defensively.”

Despite the fact yesterday’s game included 18 runs, 28 hits and 25 runners left on base; and seven pitchers who combined to 364 pitches over the course of four hours, Winston-Salem celebrated its second straight victory with plenty of energy to spare.

“I came here pretty skeptical,'” Ritsche said, “(but) we’re having a blast.”

Millersville was led by Chas McCormick who collected three hits, including a two-run triple, to break the PSAC career hits record with 305.

“He’s had just an unbelievable career,” Shehan said. “I hope he has a chance to get drafted. Any club that doesn’t want the kid is crazy.”

Neff, Summerfield, Cain (two RBIs) and Ted Williams (double) added two hits apiece for the Marauders. Ben Snyder also had a double.

While Millersville’s time in Jamestown is over, Winston-Salem doesn’t mind sticking around.

“We’ve played well of late and we did this in the conference tournament,” Ritsche said. “Why not us? Why can’t we do that again.”

NOTES: Will Beeson (5-1) was the winning pitcher and Kan Hironaka, who worked three innings and gave up one run on five hits, collected his first save. … Randy Norris and Brandon Ford each stole two bases, while Garcia and Randal Ortiz stole one apiece. … Tyler Yankosky (4-2), the starting pitcher, took the loss for the Marauders. … McCormick stole two bases and Dan Neff had one for Millersville.