CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - LaGrange routed Trinity (Texas) 15-3 on Sunday to avoid elimination at the DIII World Series. The Panthers' scheduled Sunday night game with second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State was postponed until Monday at 2:15 p.m. EDT. LC must defeat the Warriors twice to advance to NCAA Division III Championship series.
The Panthers (44-8) banged out 17 hits in beating the Tigers (38-13) for the second time in the tournament. Each starting player in the lineup had at least one hit.
Jared Aldridge and Cael Chatham had three hits each. Aldridge hit LC's first home run of the tournament, scored three runs, and had two RBIs. Chatham scored twice and drove in two runs. McKinley Erves tied a career-high, driving in five runs with two hits and a sacrifice fly.
Ethan Fry (3-1) won his second straight start with the Panthers facing elimination. After winning the deciding game of the Super Regional against Chapman, the sophomore pitched 6-1/3 strong innings, holding Trinity to three runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out six. Ashton Shackelford, Tanner Chafin, and Cal Fuller combined to throw 2-2/3 scoreless innings to close out the game.
The Panthers broke a 1-1 tie in the third. Joe Ruth led off with a single and one out later Chatham walked. Ruth avoided the tag on a rundown to get to third as Chatham moved up to second on the play. David Smigelski's sacrifice fly scored Ruth with the first run of the inning. Aldridge and Erves later added RBI singles, sandwiched around a bases loaded walk to Rhett Mixon for a 5-1 lead.
LC put the game out of reach with eight runs from the fifth inning to the seventh. Erves had a two-run base hit and Chatham an RBI single in the fifth. Aldridge led off the sixth with his fourth home run of the season, a shot over the left field fence that cleared advertising boards beyond the fence. Gabriel Pallo added an RBI triple in the sixth also.
The Panthers got a leadoff home run in the ninth from an unlikely source. Senior Dustin Doscher hit a pinch-hit shot over the right field fence for his first home run of the season and first as a Panther. Doscher, a transfer from Abraham Baldwin College, had had only seven at-bats this season with one hit.
The tournament field is down to four teams. Wisconsin-Stevens Point eliminated top-seeded Marietta and needs to beat defending national champion Salisbury twice to advance to the championship series.