West Chester claims NCAA DII Championship with 9-0 win over Delta State

By School report

CARY, N.C. – West Chester University sophomore right-hander Joe Gunkel (10-1) pitched 9.0 shutout innings and the Rams (46-10) offense scored nine unanswered runs to defeat the Statesmen (49-15) of Delta State University 9-0 in the NCAA Division II National Championship Game at Coleman Field on the USA Baseball National Training Center complex.

The loss drops the Statesmen to 1-3 in NCAA DII title games with the lone victory coming in a 12-8 win over Grand Valley State for the 2004 National Championship. DSU fell to Chapman University 11-0 in 1968 and 7-2 to Florida Southern in 1978.

The Rams jumped out to blistering pace, plating five runs in the bottom of the first inning off Statesmen starter Colton Mitchell (8-2). The junior left-hander gave up three hits and walked three, including two bases loaded walks, without recording an out.

WCU’s Mike Raimo opened the inning with a walk and moved over to third after Jack Provine’s double down the line. Joe Wendle followed with a walk to load the bases. Chris Pula slapped a blooper over the first base bag to score the Rams first run of the game. Justin Lamborn walked on four pitches to make it 2-0. Matt Baer delivered a two-RBI single to left over the outstretched glove of Brent Kakwitch for a 4-0 lead.

Baer’s single forced Mitchell from the game as DSU head coach Mike Kinnison called on Rickey Winter’s to come in from the pen. Winters gave up an RBI single to Josh Heyne, but worked his way out of the frame to keep it at 5-0 West Chester.

DSU had a chance with runners on the corners and one out in the top of the second, but Gunkel got Brent Kakwitch to ground into a fielder’s choice and Josh Crowdus to ground out to Lamborn at third.

The Rams extended the lead to 6-0 in the second on Pula’s second RBI single of the game, scoring Wendle, who doubled with one out, from second.

Jordan Chovanec single to left to start the top of the third, but DSU once again failed to get the hit it needed and left two men on base. It would be the last major threat for the Statesmen on the night.

In the third, WCU made it 7-0 on Reid Pulford’s RBI single to right off Winters.

After a scoreless fourth, the Rams put the game away for good in the fifth with two more runs. Matt Kirchner reached on a fielder’s choice with one out. Heyne followed with a single to right that DSU rightfielder Sam Kidd over ran allowing both Kirchner and Heyne to come in to score.

Gunkel, leading 9-0, settled in and retired 15 of the last 19 batters he face to nail down the victory for the Rams. The sophomore from Hershey, Pa., allowed five hits in the win with no walks and one strikeout, but did not allow a runner past first after the fourth.

Mitchell took the loss for the Statesmen after giving up five earned runs on three hits with three walks without recording an out. Winters pitched 5.0 innings while giving up four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. James Hudleson tossed 2.0 scoreless innings while Brandon Hardin closed out the eighth without giving up a hit.

Chovanec was the only Statesmen with multiple hits as the sophomore finished 2-for-4. Kingsley, Kakwitch and Brent Langston all had singles as well.

Pula finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs with Lamborn and Heyne finishing with two RBIs as well.

Delta State did place three players on the All-College World Series Team, led by second baseman Tyler Aldridge. Leftfielder Michael Vinson and centerfielder Jordan Chovanec were also named to the squad. The rest of the team is listed below.

The Statesmen are scheduled to return to Cleveland, Miss., on Sunday, June 3 at 3 p.m. CST.