Minnesota State Mankato tried to extend its NCAA Division II World Series stay with another ninth-inning rally, but the Mavericks suffered an early exit with two losses over the course of a long night and a quick afternoon.
MSU, which played until 2:30 a.m. in its first-round loss, fell to Franklin Pierce University 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon, ending its stay in the double-elimination tournament at the USA Baseball Training Complex.
But despite being frustrated by two ninth-inning rallies that came up short and multiple weather delays, MSU head coach Matt Magers had only praise for his team that won a regional championship and finished with a 44-16 record.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players, coaches, family and friends to come here,” Magers said. “It’s been 24 years since we’ve been here.
“We’ve been close numerous times, but we didn’t take the next step. Hopefully we can take that step the next time. We’re thankful to the city of Cary, (host) Mount Olive College and USA Baseball.”
MSU’s loss to Franklin Pierce on the fourth day of the World Series was not only the first of seven games that wasn’t marred by rain, thunder and lightning delays, it was the quickest of the tournament, played in 2 hours, 21 minutes.
wouldn’t blame Tuesday’s loss on the late night in the first round. On Sunday, MSU played the nightcap of a double-header, and it started more than six hours late at 11:15 p.m. due to weather delays and a power outage.
Magers said he preferred to play the game late Sunday night rather than postponing it until than Monday morning. A Monday game would have started no later than 11 a.m. since games were scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“I don’t think the late game effected us at all; a lot of our guys do their best work after 10:30 or 11, if you ask them,” Magers said with a mischievous grin. “I’d say we’re a better late night team than early morning.
“I’m glad the NCAA let us play late at night versus going back to the hotel to sleep and getting up early to play. We had a day off. We came out with energy, put runners in scoring position and put up zeros for the first three innings.”
Minnesota State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when center fielder Danny Miller singled. He advanced to second on a throwing error as pitcher Mike Adams tried to pick him off. Right fielder Aaron Berner was then hit by a pitch and first baseman Matt Odegaard advanced the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Miller scored on a ground-ball out by designated-hitter Patrick Dockendorf.
The Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning when Miller and Berner singled with one out and Miller scored when Dockendorf singled for his second RBI.
But the runners left on base would come back to haunt the Mavericks when Franklin Pierce, a school of 1,500 students in Rindge, N.H., scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth and added three more in the sixth.
The Ravens opened their fourth with a single by right fielder Phil Hendricks and a home run by third baseman Derek Ingui to left field. Ingui’s homer was only the second of the World Series in a spacious park with heavy air from the rain and the wind blowing in.
“The two-run home run was a big hit,” Magers said. “The park played big all week, so give them credit for coming up with the big hits. We had opportunities early in the game, but we didn’t execute the two-out hit.”
In Sunday’s 8-6 loss to Southern Indiana, the Mavericks scored five runs in the ninth inning before falling short. The Mavs again rallied in the ninth against Franklin Pierce when they loaded the bases with walks to Ben Kincaid and Miller and Dockendorf was hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. But Adams (6-1) finished his complete game by coaxing a fly ball to center field by second baseman Matt Kuchenbecker.
Franklin Pierce (42-16-1), which lost Sunday to Kutztown State in a game that took more than nine hours to complete because of multiple delays, avoided a third straight 0-2 experience in the World Series. The Ravens made quick trips home in 2007 and 2008.
“The last time we were here we let a big lead get away in the first game and let it bother us in the next game,” Franklin Pierce head coach Jayson King said. “This time we had another tough first-round loss, but these kids handled it better and bounced back.”