Wofford baseball rallies to return to SoCon Championship

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:49 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Down to the final out in the top of the ninth and trailing by a run in the Southern Conference Baseball Championship Presented by Holston Gases, the No. 3 Wofford baseball team clutched up and delivered a late rally to plate two for a comeback 7-6 victory over the No. 1 Samford Bulldogs Friday evening at Fluor Field. Cameron Gill’s single scored what proved to be the winning run with Lucas Mahlstedt sealing the win on the hill in the bottom of the ninth. The Terriers improve to 40-17 win the result, returning the SoCon Championship Round for a second-straight season. The Bulldogs fall to 33-23.

The Terriers have notched their 40th win of the season for just their second time ever. This marks back-to-back to campaigns with 40 wins after a program-best 42 last season. This will be Wofford’s fourth-ever trip to the championship round of the tournament and third in the last four tournaments, including back-to-back trips.

Lucas Mahlstedt (7-2) earned the win in relief for Wofford after pitching the final 3.0 innings. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts. Mahlstedt also notched the win in relief last night against No. 2 Mercer for back-to-back games with a victory in relief.

Samford reliever Ben Petschke (5-3) suffered the loss after giving up two runs on two hits and two walks across the final 2.0 innings of play.

The Terriers tallied 10 hits in the contest, led by Trey Yunger and Brice Martinez with three each. They recorded the only multi-hit efforts for the Terriers in the game. Yunger added an RBI, and both drew a walk to reach four times total. Thought hitless, Marshall Toole drove home a run, and Wofford was paced by Cameron Gill with two runs batted in. Yunger’s double was Wofford’s lone extra-base knock of the affair.

After three scoreless innings opened the contest, Wofford finally broke through in the top of the fourth. With the bases loaded, Cameron Gill lifted a sacrifice fly to score Trey Yunger, giving the Terriers the early 1-0 advantage.

It took Samford until the fifth inning to get on the board, but the Bulldogs took the lead in doing so. A three-run home run to left flipped the margin and put Samford in front, 3-1.

The Bulldogs extended their lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Samford led 5-1.

Down by four, Wofford exploded in the top of the seventh to plate the four runs needed to tie. With runners on the corners, Marshall Toole put down a sacrifice bunt that scored David Wiley to spark the rally. Yunger later followed with a double off the green monster to plate one, and then the Terriers took advantage of a defensive miscue to pull even. With two on and two out, Dixon Black grounded to third base for what seemed to be an inning-ending groundout. But the third baseman’s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing Black to reach and the two runners to race home, tying the game at 5-5.

However, it took no time for Samford to respond, utilizing an RBI single in the bottom of the frame to pull back in front. Wofford trailed by just a run, 6-5.

The game went into the top of the ninth with Wofford’s back against the wall. The lead-off hitter popped out before Ryan Galanie and Yunger drew back-to-back walks. However, a flyout followed, pushing the Terriers to their final out. Brice Martinez stepped up and roped a single down the first base line that bounced off the first base bag. Samford threw the ball around in search of an out to no avail as Galanie scurried home to tie the ballgame. Gill then laced his own single up the middle to plate Yunger and push Wofford in front, 7-6.

Samford’s own attempt at a late rally fell short with Lucas Mahlstedt locking down on the mound. Despite the Bulldogs getting a baserunner, Mahlstedt recorded the final outs, including a strikeout looking to ice the contest and 7-6 Wofford win.

Wofford has punched its ticket to tomorrow’s championship round. The Terriers will face one of the three remaining one-loss teams: No. 1 Samford, No. 2 Mercer or No. 6 UNCG, all of which are still playing for their right to battle the Terriers. Regardless of opponent, as the winners’ bracket squad, Wofford would need to be downed twice in the double-elimination championship format as the Terriers would need just one win to claim the title. Times for tomorrow’s games have yet to be announced with weather forecasts impacting the tournament schedule. More information will be released by the Southern Conference and Wofford Athletics when available.