media source avatar
The Southern ConferencePublished: 6/1/2024, Last updated: 6/25/2024
link picture

Wofford Wins its First-Ever NCAA Tournament Game

Terriers top LIU 5-2 to avoid elimination in Chapel Hill Regional

page picture
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – In what was a pitchers' duel early, the Wofford baseball team utilized a three-run sixth inning to extend a lead it would not relent Saturday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium en route to a historic 5-2 victory over Long Island (LIU). The three-seeded Terriers staved off elimination and improve to 42-19 on the season with the No. 4 seed Sharks seeing their season end at 33-25.
" LIU was really good," said head coach J.J. Edwards after the game. "As a northeast guy myself I knew they were tough; I knew they were battle tested. I know they go on the road early and play some good teams , and that is exactly what we saw today. That guy [Jared Hughes] had a lot of moxie on the mound just battling and keeping our offense, which is a really good offense, down for an extended period of time , and we're just fortunate to have these two guys [Zac Cowan and Champ Davis] toeing the rubber and keeping those guys down to give our offense a chance to start to execute and take advantage of it. We played good enough to win, and it was more defense and pitching, so credit to these guys."
The triumph is the first-ever NCAA Tournament win for Wofford in just the program's second appearance. At 42 wins on the season, the Terriers have matched their program record for wins, tying the prior mark from the 2022 campaign.
"I just look back at all the guys who are pieces of the foundation," said Edwards of the team's first NCAA Tournament victory. "Jesse Morris, who is the orthopedic surgeon on site, was a 2014 Wofford grad and pitcher, and he was a part of this. And then all those guys just having pieces of the foundation looking up and coming to support us and doing everything like that. Now for this team – these guys work really hard and deserve everything they get, and I'm just fortunate enough to be the guy that they call the head coach."
Wofford needed just a pair of sophomores to hold the game down on the hill, starting Zac Cowan (10-2) who turned in 6.0 scoreless innings to claim the win. He allowed seven hits and one walk while striking out six batters. By reaching 10 wins, Cowan is one shy of the program's single-season record and just the eighth Terrier pitcher ever to record double-digit wins in a season. Champ Davis (1) polished off the final 3.0 innings to secure his first-career save. He surrendered just two runs on four hits but did not walk a batter, and he added three punchouts.
"I think nothing really changes for me," said Cowan of his mindset as the starter in an elimination game. "I think it's trusting preparation throughout the whole week and getting back to what makes us successful, trusting our pitching coach, trusting our defense behind me. Like I said nothing really changes; it's helped us all year and made us successful all year, so I wanted to do good for us today."
Though the Sharks out-hit the Terriers 11-5 in the contest, Wofford proved to be more clutch in crunch-time moments on both sides of the ball. The Terrier pitching staff and defense forced LIU to strand 13 runners on base. On top of that, the Wofford hitters took advantage of multiple free passes, compiling five walks and four hit batsmen for nine free baserunners. Meanwhile Wofford issued only four free bases with just one walk and three hit batters.
Wofford's five hits were dispersed evenly among five batters: Marshall TooleBrice MartinezDaniel JacksonDavid Wiley and Andrew Mannelly. Martinez, Jackson and Mannelly each added an RBI with Jack Renwick also posting one with his sacrifice fly. Mannelly tallied the lone extra-base hit with a double. In recording a hit and a walk, Jackson extended his program-record on-base streak to 50 games, becoming the first Terrier to ever reach the mark.
Toole and Wiley each swiped a base in the contest. Toole's was his 43rd of the season, moving him within one of the national lead.
After the first two frames were scoreless for both squads, Zac Cowan forced another zero on the board for the Sharks to turn things over to his offense. Marshall Toole ripped a single to center and promptly swiped second. From there, he scored the first run of the game on an RBI single by Brice Martinez as Wofford claimed a 1-0 edge.
Pitching continued to be the theme of the contest for the next few innings. LIU's best chance against Cowan came in the top of the sixth with runners on the corners and two outs, but Cowan clutched up with a strikeout to strand the pair and keep the Wofford lead 1-0.
The Terriers found a rhythm in the bottom of the sixth with three runs. David Wiley drew a walk and stole second, and Tyler Hare was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. A wild pitch allowed both to advance, and the catcher's throw to second sailed away to allow Wiley to scurry home. Lucas Manning also wore a pitch, and Andrew Mannelly doubled to left to push Hare home. Jack Renwick followed with a sacrifice fly to score Manning, and the Terrier lead grew to 4-0.
LIU got onto the board in top of the seventh. A hit batsman and single put two runners on base for the Sharks, and back-to-back RBI singles halved the margin to 4-2.
But Wofford responded in the bottom of the inning to add a run. Dixon Black drew a walk and moved to second on a groundout. He then came around to score on Daniel Jackson's single through the left side, pushing the Wofford lead up to 5-2.
The score would stand there, as though the Terriers could not get another run, neither could the Sharks. Their best chance came in the top of the eighth with runners on first and third and two outs, but Champ Davis clamped down and tallied a strikeout for the third out of the inning to escape the jam. He then put LIU down in order in the ninth to seal the 5-2 Terrier triumph.
"This senior class has been so great, and I just think about how hard they've worked and how well they've led us," said Davis after closing out the program's first regional win. "It's really cool to see that come together and get the first program win (in an NCAA Tournament) for a program that has been so great and done so much, so it's really cool."