CANYON, Texas – A groundball to redshirt-sophomore Kohl Ullman (Houston, Texas) turned into a game-ending double play as junior Alex Gonzalez (Corpus Christi, Texas) relayed the throw over to classmate Pablo Hernandez (Havana, Cuba) on Sunday at Wilder Park, and the end result was the entire No. 26 Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball program climbing out of the dugout and dogpiling at the mound to celebrate its first-ever NCAA South Central Regional Championship.
The Javelinas (41-15) punched their ticket to the Division-II College World Series with a convincing 12-5 victory over Colorado Mesa to secure their spot in Cary, N.C., next week as one of the eight remaining teams competing for the NCAA National Championship at the Team USA Baseball Complex.
Just like they did in every other game of the regional, the Hogs struck first in quick fashion after senior Dallas Stefano (Cypress, Texas) drilled the second pitch he saw in the bottom of the first with the bases loaded over the left center wall to give the Blue and Gold a 4-0 lead before an out had been recorded.
Junior Manny Loredo (McAllen, Texas) followed up in the bottom of the second with an RBI double to left that plated Ullman, while Hernandez capped senior Christian Caudle (Klein, Texas) in the third with a bounding ball through the right side and Ullman tacked on another off a free pass with the bases loaded later in the frame put the Javelinas up 7-0.
Meanwhile, senior Lee May Gonzalez (Corpus Christi, Texas) stymied the Mavericks (43-16) through the first five innings, allowing only one hit and one walk before CMU broke through in the sixth.
Mesa got its first run on a double to right from Hunter Douglas in the top of the stanza, before Colton Farmer’s sacrifice fly to left and Nick Borowski’s bounding ball up the middle trimmed the lead to 7-3.
TAMUK rebuilt the cushion to eight runs in the home half of the sixth as Loredo started the rally with a single through the left half of the diamond, scoring A. Gonzalez, followed up by Stefano’s near-identical single through the left side to bring Loredo home later in the at bat.
Caudle brought a pair home after sending a pitch back up the middle with two outs to set the lead at 11-3 as Stefano and senior Levi Zents (Fort Worth, Texas) both crossed the plate.
CMU added another run with Farmer’s double in the in the top of the seventh, but the Hogs were quick to match when senior Austin Ingraham (Fort Worth, Texas) swiped third in the bottom half of the inning and scored on an errant throw that slipped past the third baseman.
The Mavericks would get one final run across in the eighth as John Ballard grounded out to Ullman with the bases loaded, but junior Preston Plovanich (Santa Fe, Texas), in to relieve Valdez earlier in the frame, got a fly ball to right to end the threat before the ninth inning came and went.
With the win, the Javelinas have locked in their spot for the NCAA Division-II College World Series in Cary, N.C., starting on May 26. The remaining regional winners will be decided on Monday, May 21, with the D-II CWS bracket coming out later in the week.