Posted: Apr 28, 2013 7:29 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2013 9:40 PM
FAYETTE, MO - The 37-year drought is over. Central Methodist's Mike Wagner turned a game-ending double play Sunday at Estes Field against Culver-Stockton (Mo.) to give the Eagles their second-ever Heart of America Athletic Conference baseball championship and first since 1975.
The Eagles also clinch an automatic berth in the 57th Annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, which starts with Opening Round play May 9-13.
Central Methodist won the league outright in the first contest on Senior Day by a score of 15-4 on the strength of four homeruns, two by Jesse Zellner. The Green and Black scored the final 15 runs of the game after falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning to Culver-Stockton.
Sunday marked the appearance at Estes Field for the Eagles' Drew Greiwe, Shane Lowe, Colby Stack, Dustin Ray, Travis Tompson, Daniel Peters, Neal DeMartin, Mike Allen, Bobby Murmolow and Carter DeMay. The triumph was also bittersweet for Fred Smith, coaching in his last go-around in the regular season after announcing in March his retirement effective at the end of this season.
After the Wildcats scored the first four runs of game one in the first, it was all Central Methodist. The Eagles cut the deficit to one in the bottom half-inning before taking the lead for good in the next frame when Peters scored on a fielder's choice.
Zellner started the homerun parade in the third inning, hitting the first of his two towering shots to left to make the score 7-4. Leading 8-4 in the fifth, the Eagles exploded for three homeruns in the bottom of the frame, including two three-run blasts by Kyle Poynter and Wagner. Zellner belted his second dinger of the game, a solo shot, to end the scoring barrage.
Zellner finished game one 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. Wagner (4) and Poynter (3) combined for seven RBI. Lowe drove in two. Peters, Wagner, Lowe and DeMartin each had two hits.
After allowing four runs in the first inning, Central Methodist's Tyler Paule (4-3) blanked the Wildcats in the final six to finish the complete game on the mound. He gave up nine hits and had two strikeouts.
Pitcher Brock Kartheiser (4-3) lasted only two and two-third innings and took the loss in game one, allowing eight earned runs on 11 hits.
In game two, Culver-Stockton used two RBI singles in the fifth by Jason Schwartz and Gene Nanny to halt the Eagles' three-game win streak.
Ray, in his first at-bat of the second affair, recorded his 100th career hit in an Eagles' uniform. His double down the right field line in the bottom of the first was one of the Green and Black's four hits in the game.
Zach Engelbrecht (3-3) earned the win in game two on the mound, tossing a seven inning, four-hit shutout.
The Eagles worked a staff game in the final contest of the regular season, using six pitchers overall. Mike Wagner (7-3) suffered the defeat, allowing two unearned runs on three hits in an inning of relief. Tompson, Alex Hunter, Stack, Aaron Schuster and Zellner combined for six innings of one-hit, scoreless ball.
Before heading to the World Series, Central Methodist plays in the 2013 HAAC Tournament and enters as the top seed. The double-elimination tournament between the top six overall teams in the league is set for May 1-4 at Phil Welch Stadium in Saint Joseph, Mo.