With their backs against the wall once again, the 16th-ranked Wingate baseball players defeated 9th-ranked Angelo State, 5-4, on a walk-off single by redshirt junior Hunter Dula on Thursday.
Dula stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 4-4. After working the count to 2-2, heavy rains caused the game to go into a delay. Three-and-a-half hours after he began his at-bat, Dula ripped the first pitch he saw for a single to drive in the winning run.
“We were loose the whole break in the dugout, but when they told us there were 30 minutes to go, it was time to lock it in,” Dula told reporters after Thursday’s game. “Finally someone reminded me it was a 2-2 count with two outs, and in the regionals I had two home runs in 2-2 counts. I was looking for anything over the plate to put a good swing on, and luckily it worked out.”
Dula, a redshirt junior first baseman, was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in Thursday’s win. Graduate senior McCann Mellett drove in the other two runs on a two-run homer, and redshirt junior center fielder Justin Guy was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
The win was the third straight for the Bulldogs (37-13 record) while facing elimination. Wingate opened its Division 2 College World Series campaign with a 6-2 loss to Angelo State on Sunday. On Tuesday, Wingate defeated 14th-ranked Southern New Hampshire, 3-2, and on Wednesday, the Bulldogs eliminated fourth-ranked Seton Hill from the tournament.
Before the loss Thursday, Angelo State had won nine straight games and 20 of its past 21 overall.
“These guys just don’t want it to end,” said head coach Jeff Gregory after Thursday’s game. “They just enjoy being around each other, and these games are another opportunity for them to go out and share the field.”
In the game against Seton Hill, former Piedmont High pitcher David Nash tossed a complete game, allowing six hits and one run while striking out seven in nine innings. Nash, a graduate student, is 8-3 on the season with a 5.05 ERA and 48 strikeouts across 67.2 innings pitched.
The win Thursday against Angelo State put Wingate just one more victory away from the D2 College World Series championship game, which will be played Saturday. Wingate and Angelo State met again Friday with a trip to the championship game on the line (late score).
On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 seed Central Missouri, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation, and No. 5 seed Tampa played Friday, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s championship game.