Appleton, Wisconsin - The Trinity Tigers are the national champions of NCAA Division III Baseball!
Trinity claimed the title by sweeping Keystone (PA) College 14-6 and 10-7 in the best-of-three finals series on Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium. The Tigers completed the campaign with a 44-7 record, setting a school mark in victories. Keystone wrapped up the season with a 40-11 record.
"This is about the history of the program," said Head Coach Tim Scannell, when asked about winning the championship. "This accomplishment is 20 years in the making, and this means so much to all of us, because we know how much it means to all of the people who have been a part of the program. I couldn't be more proud of our guys."
During the course of the tournament - where the Tigers also beat defending champion State University of New York at Cortland - Trinity Head Coach Tim Scannell chalked up his 600th career win. Coach Scannell has skippered Trinity for 18 seasons, and led the Tigers to the DIII Series for the second consecutive year. He also increased the total of Trinity's NCAA DIII team championships to five. Men's and women's tennis won the title in 2000, while women's basketball and men's soccer were crowned in 2003.
Tuesday's second game was delayed for over four hours, because of rain in the area. When it began, the Tigers came out strong with a three-run first inning. Keystone added a run in their half of the frame, but the Tigers took a 5-1 lead with two runs in the third. The Giants hit a two-run homer in the third, and scored a run in the fifth, to tighten the game to 5-4.
Jeremy Wolf led the three-run seventh inning with an RBI triple, which was the third triple of the game for the Tigers. The three triples help Trinity break the team record for triples in one season, with the new record standing at 27.
Keystone battled to the bitter end in the game, though, scoring with three runs over the next two innings, to close to 8-7. The top of the ninth inning had Andrew Waters crack a two-RBI single to center field, as the Tigers led 10-7, and effectively seal the win.
"Our guys fought the entire day," concluded Coach Scannell. "That second game was touch-and-go for a while, but our guys prevailed, and they are National Champs!"
Ian Hussian started the second game on the mound, but was relieved by Chris Tate in the second inning. Tate picked up the victory and upped his record to 6-0, pitching for five total innings, and striking out six batters. Michael Walker pitched the final two innings to pick up his first save of the season.
Butler put the Tigers on the scoreboard in game one with an RBI double in the bottom half of the first inning, and it was the first of three doubles for the senior. Keystone tied the game with a home run in the third, but Trinity's potent offense added three runs in the fourth. Butler and Santos each produced an RBI double, as the Tigers took a 4-1 lead. The Giants came up with two runs in the fifth, but it was Butler with another double to make it 5-3. He drove in two more runs in the sixth inning, and Colin Serkowski had two RBI in the three-run seventh. The biggest inning for the Tigers was the eighth, when Trinity exploded for four runs to widen the lead.
Butler certainly earned his Tournament MVP accolade, going 4-6 with six RBI and three doubles in the opener. Coupled with his second-game performance, Butler hit 7-11 with seven RBI, four runs scored, four doubles, and a triple. Serkowski hit 3-5 in game one, with two RBI, while crossing the plate four times. He scored six runs in the Trinity's championship drive.
Troy Nelson was the starting pitcher in the first game of the day, and took the win. Nelson (6-1) pitched for 6.1 innings and fanned six of the Giants players. Kevin Flores was the relief pitcher for 2.2 innings, and earned his second save of the season. Flores also registered five "k's" in the process.
Complete photo galleries of the championship can be viewed here