Midland, MI – Delta College baseball won the first regional title in school history Saturday, defeating Schoolcraft 8-7 in dramatic fashion to advance to the District B Super Regional next weekend. The Pioneers will face off against Elgin Community College in a best 2-of-3 series against the 29-21 Spartans.
"It's an indescribable feeling," said sixth year head coach Danny Smith. "And not just because it's the first regional title in school history but because of the way in which we won it."
With Delta trailing 7-6 heading in to the bottom of the ninth inning, Schoolcraft retired the first two batters before issuing a four pitch walk to Tyler Snover. Ty Jones then hit a ball off the end of his bat that eluded the Ocelot first baseman who in attempting to still make an impossible play threw the ball away. The ensuing chaos allowed Snover to scamper to third and Jones to advance to second.
With the game tying run at second base and first base open, Smith replaced the on-deck batter with pinch hitter Brady Leppek. But he never got to hit.
Schoolcraft elected instead to pitch to Ty Robbins even though first base was open. On the first pitch he saw, Robbins laced a single to left field scoring Snover with the game tying run and Jones with the game winner as he slid ahead of the tag.
"I was surprised," said Smith. "Especially after T-Robb had just given us the lead with single his last at-bat. But we all have our reasons."
The game was a back and forth affair as Schoolcraft took a 1-0 lead off starting pitcher Tyler Kirkwood in the first inning. Delta tied it up in the second as Snover scored on an error. Schoolcraft retook the lead in the third scoring two runs on two walks and double to go up 3-1. But DC once again answered in the bottom of the frame as Z Westley scored Zack Booth on a double and Dean Marais brought home Hunter David on a sacrifice fly.
With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth, Westly reached on a single and scored on a Marais double to give the Pioneers a 4-3 lead. Marais would steal third base and when the throw went in to left field he would score to make it 5-3.
Two runs for Schoolcraft in the top of the sixth ended the day for Kirkwood as Thomas Fortney relieved him to keep the game tied at 5-5. Delta went up 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh when Westly and Snover both singled and Robbins followed suit bringing home Westley and making it a 6-5 game in favor of Delta. But Schoolcraft used three hits a sacrifice fly and a hit batter to retake the lead in the top of the ninth, setting up the heroics for Robbins and the Pioneers.
Fortney collected the win, throwing three and a third innings to improve his record to 5-2 on the year.
"The game seemed very business-like until that last inning," said Smith. "Hopefully we can keep that attitude for next weekend."
Delta is now 32-20 on the season. Game times for next Saturday are at noon and 4 Saturday with the if-necessary game scheduled for noon on Sunday.