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Ouachita Baptist advances to D-II College World Series.


CLEVELAND, Miss. – Making his first start in a month, Jarod Hershberger silenced the top-ranked Delta State bats as the 26th-ranked Ouachita Baptist baseball team will continue playing for another week as the Tigers defeated the Statesmen, 8-1, during Championship Day in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Monday at Dave “Boo” Ferriss Field.

Hershberger, who retired the first 11 batters, pitched 7 1/3 innings. He gave up a run on six hits with three strikeouts, while improving to 8-2. Steve Smith closed the door with his second save and three strikeouts.

“Pitching doesn’t change,” Hershberger said. “I had good stuff and was fortunate to keep Delta State off balance.”

Ouachita Baptist, which will make its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II College World Series, struck first as Chad Taylor began the bottom of the second inning with a double to right center and with two outs, scored on an RBI base hit to right by Drew Wurzelbacher.

The Tigers (47-14) took advantage of a pair of walks in the bottom of the fourth as Wurzelbacher and Blake Lockwood drew back-to-back walks. Justin Pennell , who went 3-for-5, ripped a base hit up the middle to score Wurzelbacher, giving Ouachita Baptist a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers added to the advantage in the bottom of the fifth, while knocking Statesmen starter Korey Cunningham out of the game.

Rudy Jovanovski was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single to left by Destan Makonnen to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Taylor advanced the runners 90 feet, Chandler Boyce struck out, but Drew Maus singled to right to score Jovanovski and Makonnen to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.

Delta State (48-11) got on the board in the top of the sixth as Devin Goodwin’s two-out double down the left field line plated Michael Neiman.

Ouachita Baptist got the run back in the bottom of the seventh.

Jovanovski singled to left to begin the inning and moved all the way to third on a base hit to right center by Makonnen. With one out, Boyce reached on a bunt single to plate Jovanovski to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.

Delta State had something going in the top of the eighth as Steven Oswald reached on an infield hit and Michael Niemann singled up the middle with one out in the inning. After a pitching change, Smith struck out Hunter Jobes and Devin Goodwin to end the threat.

With the momentum, the Tigers put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth.

Lockwood walked to begin the frame and moved to third on a base hit up the middle by Pennell. Jim Streicher singled up the middle to score Lockwood as Pennell went to third. Jovanovski drove in Pennell with a sacrifice fly to left. Makonnen followed with a single to left center to move Streicher to third. Chad Taylor hit a bloop single to center to score Streicher.

“I am really proud of my team,” Tigers head coach Scott Norwood said. “We have played through some adversity this season. When you win, it’s humbling.”

Cunningham (10-2) was tagged for four runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and five walks in 4 2/3 innings. Kenny Smalley worked 2 1/3 innings of relief. He gave up four runs on five hits with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Joey Haston pitched an inning of a relief.

Pennell was named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament and was also a selection the All-South Central Regional Tournament Team. Also earning All-Tournament team honors were Makonnen, Streicher, Lockwood and Steve Smith.

The NCAA Division II College World Series games in Sauget , Ill. , begins May 24-31. All OBU games will also be available to listen to on the Ouachita Baptist athletic Web site as well as viewed through live stats at:

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