Back-to-back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Jake Schrader, Zach Gawrych and Adam Pendleton highlighted a five-run second inning as top-ranked Tampa went on to claim its sixth national championship with an 8-2 victory over second-ranked Minnesota State-Mankato in the national title game of the 2013 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship.
Schrader was named Most Outstanding Player of the national finals. He went 2-for-3 on Saturday and batted .444 (8-for-18) with two home runs, seven runs batted in and a .944 slugging percentage in five games at the national finals.
An announced crowd of 2,478 was in attendance at the championship game, the second-highest single-game attendance since the Division II Baseball national finals moved to Cary in 2009. Last year’s championship game between West Chester and Delta State had a record crowd of 2,663.
Sean O’Brien led off the bottom of the second with a single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch and B.J. Zimmerman followed with a single to right. O’Brien came home with Tampa’s first run on Schrader’s double to straightaway center field just short of the warning track. Gawrych followed with a chopper over the third-base bag that resulted in a two-run double. Garwych scored on Pendleton’s double to right, Tampa’s fifth consecutive hit. Pendleton advanced to third on a sacrifice and scored on a line single to left by Connor Obrochta to give the Spartans a 5-0 lead.
Minnesota State-Mankato used an unearned run to get on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth after Nolan Johnson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Stetson Olson singled up the middle. Taylor Branstad hit into a force at second, but Johnson scored when the throw to first was off target to pull the Mavericks within 5-1.
But that was as close as Minnesota State-Mankato would get as Tampa starter Jon Keller (6-3) shut down the Mavericks with five strikeouts and no walks. He scattered six hits and retired the side in order in the seventh before giving way to two relievers for the final two innings. The win was Keller’s second in as many starts in the national finals.
Tampa added a run in the bottom of the fourth on Michael Danner’s sacrifice fly and scored two unearned runs in the seventh on a throwing error.
Lucas Skjefte singled in a run in the top of the ninth for Minnesota State-Mankato, which outhit Tampa 9-8. Parker Sullivan and Stetson Olson had three hits apiece for the Mavericks, which suffered its only loss of the national finals.
Minnesota State starting pitcher Harvey Martin (9-1), who recorded a win Monday against Franklin Pierce, suffered his first loss of the season. Martin was the consensus Division II Baseball National Pitcher of the Year.
Tampa won Division II Baseball national championships in 1992, ’93, ’98, 2006 and ’07. The Spartans, the last team to win back-to-back national titles, ended a streak of five consecutive first-time champions.