TIGERVILLE, S.C. – After a pair of walk-off wins by each team, nationally top-ranked and regionally top-seeded North Greenville left little doubt in a convincing 13-3 win over third-seeded and nationally ninth-ranked Columbus State to earn the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Baseball National Championship in Cary, North Carolina.
The championship will be an eight-team, double-elimination tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, June 4-11. Game times will be at 1:30 and 6 p.m. each day with all tickets free to the public. The event will be co-hosted by Mount Olive and the Town of Cary for the 11th time in the past 13 years. The complete bracket and more information about the championship can be found here.
In the first game of the day, and second of the super regional, North Greenville (50-10) junior right-hander Noah Takac took a no-hitter into the fourth and allowed just one run on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts over seven innings to give the Crusaders a chance to sweep the series and move on to Cary. Pat Monteith delivered the offensive firepower as he blasted the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning over the right-centerfield fence for the 3-1 advantage. The score remained that way until the ninth when a pair of singles set the stage for an Isaac Bouton three-run walk-off home run for Columbus State (46-13) to force the if necessary game.
The Crusaders wasted no time in recapturing the momentum in the series as they scored six runs on four hits and one CSU error for the 6-0 lead after the first inning of game two. Monteith hit his second three-run home run of the day, this time to right field, for the 3-0 advantage. After Marek Chlup singled, three consecutive two-out walks allowed him to score and Gehrig Octavio collected his second hit of the inning with a two-run single to center for the six-run margin. A Cougars’ two-out, two-run home run in the top of the second from Matthew McDade cut into the margin.
North Greenville got a run back in the fourth as Cory Bivins led off with a single, moved to third on an error off the bat of Ethan Stringer, reached third on a Monteith infield base hit and scored on a Chlup ground out. An RBI ground out in the fifth for the Cougars again cut the lead to four, 7-3, but the Crusaders added three more on three hits and two more CSU miscues for the 10-3 advantage after five. Zach Zarra singled to start the frame, stole second and scored on a one-out Jax Cash single through the right side. An error allowed Bivins to reach and Cash to advance to third before a throwing error plated Cash and moved Bivins 90 feet where he was able to score on a Stringer single up the middle for the seven-run lead.
The Crusaders poured it on in the seventh as Octavio reached with a one-out single and scored on a Stringer home run to left field for the 12-3 lead. Chlup singled with two outs, stole second and scored on a Josh Senter single to left for the final margin. North Greenville pounded out 13 hits in the win as the top four in the order combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and nine RBIs. Octavio led the way from the leadoff spot with three hits, two runs scored and two driven in while Stringer and Monteith each finished with two hits and drove in three runs. Matthew Taubensee, the third of five pitchers used by the Crusaders, earned the win as he allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts over three scoreless innings. Devin Dudal, the first of six Cougars to throw in the contest, took the loss.