May 6, 2012

Centennial crown fits baseball team with championship game victory

BALTIMORE – Bryan Henrick pitched his best game of the season while his teammates provided the run support in Haverford College's 9-1 victory over Washington College on Sunday afternoon in the 2012 Centennial Conference tournament championship game at Johns Hopkins University Baseball Field.

Sunday's victory by second-seeded Haverford (24-17) capped an unbeaten run through the conference playoffs which included a Friday win over third-seed Washington (28-12) and a Saturday triumph over host and top seed Johns Hopkins.

The Centennial title, Haverford's first in baseball, carries with it the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The Fords will travel to one of eight regional tournaments which begin on May 16.

Henrick (3-5) saved his best for last allowing a single run on seven hits and two walks and one strikeout in seven strong innings of work. Closer Mike Bozzi took over from his fellow senior to start the eighth and limited the Shoremen to two hits and a walk while fanning a pair.

The offensive noise came from the top to the bottom of the order for the Fords who averaged seven runs per game in their march toward the championship.

Nick Miranda continued to provide a spark at the top of the order. The center fielder led off the game by getting hit by Washington starting pitcher Brian Lewis. Miranda eventually came around to score on a ground-out double-play ball.

The only other runs Henrick would need came in the second when the Fords pieced together four runs. Casey Fox, Matt Liscovitz and Justin Coulter singled and scored in the inning, and William Bannard drew a walk which later turned into a run followed by another marker by Miranda who reached first after getting hit for the second straight at-bat. Miranda picked up an RBI with his bases loaded at-bat and Coulter registered two with his bases loaded single through the left side.

Haverford added runs in the sixth and seventh but the early runs were good enough for Henrick who got out of early jams twice with double-plays before teaming with Bozzi to allow Washington to push base runners into scoring position only five other times over the final five innings.

The Fords out hit Washington only 10-9 but patience at the plate resulted in five walks and four more base runners by hit batsmen.

Chaplin and Fox had a pair of hits apiece for Haverford, with Chaplin and Coulter each registering two RBIs. Miranda, Fox and Liscovitz scored twice for the Fords.

Lewis (3-2), one of seven Washington pitchers used in the game, took the loss lasting just 1.2 innings while allowing five runs off of two hits, three walks, a wild pitch and a pair of hit batters.

The championship ended Johns Hopkins' five-year run wearing the crown while giving Haverford head coach Dave Beccaria, a Hopkins graduate, his first.

"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," said Beccaria after the championship trophy presentation. "We were a young group this year, and battling several injuries during the season meant our staff had to ask a lot of guys to change their roles within our team structure. This championship proved to be a total team effort and I know that every one of our guys feels like they were part of earning this title."

The win over the Shoremen in the championship game also ended up giving the Fords a season sweep of Washington, winning all four games by a combined 52-23 margin.

The Division III regionals are double-elimination tournaments with the eight region winners advancing to the NCAA D-III World Series on May 25-29 at Fox Cities Stadium in Appleton, Wis.