MASON, Ohio - A nine-run sixth inning broke the game wide open for Tiffin baseball as they cruised to a 15-4 win over three-seed Trevecca Nazarene on Wednesday night to advance to the semifinals of the GMAC Championship.
The seven-seed entering the tournament, TU pounded out 15 runs on 15 hits, with three Dragons recording three-hit games in Zach Campbell, John Heckman, and Jack Dennis. Campbell scored three runs and had five RBI, including a grand slam in the big sixth inning, while Heckman knocked in four runs and had two doubles. Eight of the nine Tiffin starters scored at least one run.
The game was called after seven-innings, as the GMAC has a run-rule for postseason play that goes into effect if a team is ahead by at least 10 runs after seven frames. The Dragons have now won six of their last seven, and are 20-12 since March 19 after a slow start to the season.
Freshman Tyler Wehrle got the nod on the hill for the Dragons, going five innings and allowing three runs (two earned) while striking out three to earn the win. Aaron George and Jake Monnin then threw one inning each after Tiffin had built the substantial lead.
Heckman got the offense going almost immediately, as after TU loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first, the senior sent a laser off the top of the wall down the left field line for a three-RBI double.
Trevecca got two back in the bottom of the first, but Tiffin added one run apiece in the second and third on RBIs from Campbell and Kole Klasic to go back up by three at 5-2. Both teams tallied one more run over the next two innings to bring the score to 6-3 in favor of the Dragons heading to the sixth.
With one on and one out in the top of the sixth, Heckman launched his second run-scoring double off the wall in left. After a Dennis single, Nich Green drove in another run with a base hit to left. Kyle Vance singled to load the bases, and one out later Aaron Gonzales hit a slow grounder to short that turned into a fielder's choice with everyone safe, as Vance was able to beat the throw to second with a slide.
That hustle to prevent the end of the inning proved to make a huge difference for TU, as Cody Orr and Brayden Callihan were hit by pitches back-to-back with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs, and Campbell really put the nail in the coffin with a grand slam well over the wall in right that made it 15-3.
The Trojans picked up a run in the bottom of the frame, but it was not nearly enough as Tiffin took the 11-run victory.
The Dragons will now play fellow upstart and five-seed Kentucky Wesleyan, as they also pulled off two wins against higher seeds on the day with an 11-6 win over four-seed Lake Erie and a 12-1 rout of top-seed Malone. TU and KWC have met 10 times since the Dragons joined Division II, with the Panthers holding a 7-3 advantage, including a 3-1 series win over Tiffin earlier this season in Owensboro.