The University of Lynchburg baseball team won 7-1 Monday and punched its ticket to the NCAA Division III baseball national championship series. It’s the deepest run by an Old Dominion Athletic Conference team in the Division III baseball tournament in league history.
The Hornets will play either Johns Hopkins or Baldwin Wallace in a three-game series for the 2023 crown. The series begins with game 1 at 1 p.m. EST Wednesday, June 7. Game 2 will be at noon EST on Thursday, June 8, with game 3 being played 50 minutes afterward if necessary.
Senior righty Wesley Arrington fired the second-straight complete game for the Hornets to propel them to a 7-1 victory over East Texas Baptist University.
Arrington picked a great time for his first-career complete game. He improved to 11-5 on the season, with nine strong frames of six-hit ball. He surrendered one run in the second inning and walked two batters while fanning eight Tigers. He retired eight straight batters from the fourth into the sixth innings and struck out at least one batter in six of the nine innings.
Lynchburg’s offense kept the pedal down with the Hornets now outscoring their Cedar Rapids’ opponents 22-10 over three victories. Brandon Garcia went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Benton Jones and left fielder Avery Neaves each went 2-for-4 with an extra-base hit apiece. Jones drove in a pair while Neaves plated three Hornets.
Jackson Harding — who caught the final out of the game — went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Carrson Atkins scored twice and made a highlight play up against the wall in center.
Tigers starter Cole Godkin took the loss as he lasted just 1.0 innings, giving up four runs on six hits over his 11-batter stint. He was one of five ETBU pitchers to see the mound with Jacob Sherman the most effective with 4.1 innings of relief. He allowed three runs on four hits with four strikeouts.
Ben Lea led the Tigers offense with a 2-for-4 day that included a triple after Atkins saw the ball jarred from his glove after slamming into the wall on a leaping-catch attempt. Brett Wagner drove in the Tiges lone run.
Lynchburg got the scoring started immediately, with five hits in the bottom of the first inning, including three in a row to start the game. Garcia singled to left and scored on a triple down the right field line by Jones. Neaves brought him around with a bouncer back up the middle. After stealing second and third, the former ODAC player of the year made it 3-0 for Lynchburg by stepping on the dish following a single to left-center by Eric Hiett. Hiett scored two batters later on Harding’s double to left-center.
East Texas Baptist got its lone run in the second inning. Lea led off with a triple to center and then scored when the next batter, Wagner, grounded to Garcia at short.
The Hornets regained their four-run advantage in the bottom of the frame. Atkins walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on Garcia’s single to center. Jones was hit by a pitch, marking Godkin’s last batter of the game. Neaves greeted Sherman to the game with a sacrifice fly to right to bring home Atkins.
Pitching dominated the middle innings with just two hits and two walks over the next 3.5 innings. ETBU threatened in the third with a single and a walk helped by a passed ball and balk to put runners on the corners with just one out, but Arrington struck out Jordan Hara and Lea to end the threat.
The Hornets broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Harding led off with a single to right and moved to second on a sac bunt by catcher Holden Fiedler, who has been behind the plate for all 27 innings in Iowa. Atkins singled to left to put runners on the corners. Garcia registered his third hit of the day to bring Harding trotting home. Jones followed with a single back up the middle to score Atkins.
Neaves, facing another new pitcher in Rece Gustafson, doubled down the left field line and off the tarp to bring around Garcia for the game’s final run.
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Recap courtesy of ODAC associate commissioner JJ Nekoloff.