It may be March Madness for basketball, but you can call it May Mayhem for baseball.
In a wild elimination game, No. 3 Tyler Junior College scored four runs in the eighth and then held off a gutsy comeback attempt by No. 1 Gloucester County (N.J.) College for a 12-11 win on Monday at Mike Carter Field.
What is all means is the Apaches (38-19) advance in the NJCAA Division III World Series. TJC will play Niagara (36-22) at 4 p.m. today. The winner of that game must turn around and play Northern Essex (29-8) at 7 p.m.
Gloucester, a seven-time national champion and ranked No. 1, was eliminated from the tournament and ends its season at 47-11.
Two years ago, Tyler and Gloucester played twice, including the national championship game. Both times the Roadrunners won in extra innings by one run.
“We have faced Gloucester three times the last couple of years and all three have been unbelievable,” TJC coach Doug Wren said. “The last two were pitching duels and this was a slugfest. We beat a solid quality team today; they weren’t No. 1 in the country for nothing.”
The Apaches banged out 14 hits, three hits from Nico Moran and Estevan Hernandez. Hunter Sutton and Jeremy Christian added two apiece.
Moran added four RBIs for TJC.
Eric Frain, Eric Barbieri and Sean Feeney had two hits each.
Barbieri had a home run and five RBIs.
The teams were tied 8-8 before Tyler put up a four spot in the eighth to take a 12-8 lead.
After an out, Hernandez doubled down the left field line.
“I was just thinking I needed to try and find my way onto base,” Hernandez said. “I got down in the count; and I just wanted to find a gap.”
With Ron Reemts running for Hernandez, Taylor Drolette was intentionally walked. Tyler Ernest followed with an unintentional walk to load the bases.
And just as he did on Saturday, Hunter Sutton came through with a single up the middle, scoring Reemts for a 9-8 lead.
Jeremy Christian was credited with an infield single scoring Drolette for a 10-8 advantage, while Ernest was out at plate on a fielder’s choice.
However, TJC was not through.
Connor Lewis drove in Sutton when his infield hit was misplayed by the third baseman and Tyler led 11-8.
Christian then scored when Moran was hit by a pitch and Tyler seemed to have a comfortable 12-8 lead.
The top of the ninth was anything but easy for the Apaches as the Roadrunners would not go easy.
Barbieri reached on an error. Zach Passerelle then walked. Blaine Hashagen, the fifth Apache pitcher and eventual winner, was replaced by closer Zach Aitken. After a fly out, Eric Sellitto walked and Feeney had an RBI single bringing the Roadrunners within 12-9.
Jim Hanson followed with an RBI walk and the Apaches’ lead was down to 12-10.
TJC then replaced Aitken with Kyle Sargent.
“I was just trying to throw strikes,” Sargent said.
And he did.
After a sacrifice fly by Brett Uhing scored Sellitto to get Gloucester within 12-11, Sargent ended the game by striking out Frain.
Notes: The D-III World Series is presented by Wells Fargo Advisors Tyler Texas Office.
Tyler Junior College 12, Gloucester County (N.J.) College 11
Gloucester 340 000 103 — 11 9 3
Tyler 241 010 040 — 12 14 4
Bill Mendek, Casey McMikle (4), Alex Summers (8), Mike Cogliano (8) and Zach Passerelle. Eythan Lenz, Blaine Taylor; Jacob French (6), Jackie Black (7), Blaine Hashagen (8), Zach Aitken (9), Kyle Sargent (8) and Trevor Clifton.
W – Sargent, L – Cogliano.
2B – G: Thomas Kain, Eric Barbieri. TJC: Nico Moran, Estevan Hernandez, Clifton. HR – G: Barbieri.
DP – TJC 1. LOB: Gloucester 9, TJC 12.
SH – Brett Uhing, Kevin Needham. SF – Uhing.
RECORDS — Gloucester 48-10, Tyler 38-10)
NEXT UP — Gloucester eliminated; Tyler vs. Niagara (N.Y.), 4 p.m. Tuesday.