UW-Whitewater a win away from D-III World Series
WHITEWATER—Jared Fon's appearance in a baseball game Friday lasted all of one pitch.
The UW-Whitewater senior made the most of that short stint.
Fon pinch-hit for the Warhawks with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning of an NCAA Division III regional semifinal at Miller Stadium and promptly drilled a fastball into right field. The hit plated a pair of insurance runs, and Whitewater secured its spot in Saturday's final with a 6-2 victory over Adrian College.
Whitewater will face Adrian at noon Saturday after it beat Concordia-Chicago on Friday night to stay alive. A victory sends the Warhawks to the NCAA Division III World Series next weekend in Grand Chute. The Bulldogs will need to beat UW-W twice Saturday in order to advance.
“It really wasn't that big of a situation, because we were already up two runs,” the humble Fon said afterward. “I want to do whatever I can. It's my last year.”
Fon has missed time recently, including the first two games of the Whitewater regional, with leg injuries.
The hit went a long way in making the Warhawks feel a little more comfortable when Adrian loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning. Reliever Austin Jones got out of the jam to preserve Curtis Morgan's victory.
“(Thursday, Fon) told me he was ready to pinch-hit,” Whitewater coach John Vodenlich said. “Yesterday, we didn't need him as a pinch-hitter. Today, the fact that we gave him an extra day off to get his mind right, it made it a no-brainer to pinch-hit there.”
Adrian had its bats going early. It got all six of its hits off Morgan in the first three innings, as the teams traded runs for a 2-2 tie after three.
Morgan settled in from there, holding the Bulldogs without a hit in his final four innings. He allowed two earned runs on six hits, three walks and had three strikeouts to improve to 6-1.
“He made a nice adjustment and got the ball down and started pitching,” Vodenlich said. “He did what he needed to do to put us in position to win.”
The Warhawks grabbed their first lead in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a two-out rally. Trey Cannon singled into right field and took second on a wild pitch. Mike Mierow's Texas-league single into left gave Whitewater a 3-2 lead.
It plated another two-out run in the seventh. Dylan Bersch led off with a single and stole second—one of six stolen bases for Whitewater—but it appeared he would be stranded. Instead, shortstop Mikole Pierce knocked a two-out RBI single up the middle.
“One of the things we've talked about is getting big in the big moments of a game,” Vodenlich said. “Two outs with runners on base is a big moment.
“We're taking pride in trying to deliver with two outs.”
Fon's two-out, two-run base hit in the eighth was the icing on the cake.
Whitewater will attempt to take advantage of another big moment Saturday. The Warhawks are looking to advance to the Division III World Series for the first time since 2011.
WHITEWATER 6, ADRIAN 2
Adrian 011 000 000—2 8 0
UW-Whitewater 011 001 12x—6 8 2
Robinson, Eng (7) and Cararo; Morgan, Grove (8), Jones (9) and Mierow.
Leading hitters—Dorow (A) 2x4; Cannon (W) 2x3. 2B—Fischer (A), Heatherly (A), Gertley (A), Gonzalez (W).
SO—Robinson 4, Eng 3, Morgan 3, Jones 2. BB—Robinson 4, Morgan 3, Jones 1.