Apprentice School baseball team wins seven straight games, three on Thursday, for USCAA Small College World Series Championship – The Virginian-Pilot
To say that what the Apprentice School baseball team just accomplished is unlikely seems like a huge understatement.
Unprecedented and miraculous might fit better.
After losing in the first round of the 10-team, double-elimination tournament, the Builders won seven straight games over three days in DuBois, Pennsylvania to claim their third US Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series championship. In the title game, Apprentice’s third contest on Thursday, the Builders beat Miami University Hamilton of Ohio 23-17 despite trailing 15-2 after 4 1/2 innings. The Apprentice had 20 hits in the championship game, six of which went out of the park.
It was the first season as head coach for Ben Jones, whose team started 2-11 as he attempted to replace longtime coach Bryan Cave, under whom he had been an outcaster. peer and an assistant coach. But the Builders (26-18) gradually found their rhythm to qualify for nationals, where they put on a performance that no one would have seen coming.
Thomas Packert ended a remarkable tournament with a championship game for the ages. He hit 5 for 6, including a home run and two doubles, with five runs and three RBIs. He also pitched the final two innings for the win in a game in which both teams have been exhausted from needing to work in so many innings this week.
Apprentice, who used six pitchers in the Finals before Packert took the mound, trailed 15-2 and 17-7 in the sixth before Caleb Russell’s two-out Grand Slam cut the deficit to 17-11. in the seventh, Maxwell Burcham and Riggs Ellis drove in before Braden Lambert hit a two-run homer, taking a 17-15 lead.
After Packert retired the Harriers (25-20), Holden Sandridge led the bottom of the eighth with a home run. Packert’s bases-loaded single tied the game at 17, and Burcham quickly hit the Builders’ second grand slam of the game, putting them ahead 21-17 and giving him six RBIs for the contest. Ellis followed with another home run.
Few could have imagined that ending after Monday, when Miami Hamilton dusted Apprentice 12-2 in a game that was stopped after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
But the Builders immediately rebounded, winning lopsidedly. They beat Mid-Atlantic Christian 11-1 and Bryant & Stratton-Albany 13-3 on Tuesday, then beat Penn State Mont Alto 7-1 and three-time defending champion Penn State DuBois 7-0 on Wednesday.
This left Apprentice as one of three remaining teams. The Builders took the field at 11 a.m. Thursday and edged Cincinnati-Clermont 6-3 in eight innings. After the Cougars scored in the bottom of the seventh to force an extra inning, Packert homered a two-out three-run homer in the eighth. It was his second homer of the game, and he got the win by pitching the last three innings, striking out four and giving up two hits.
Miami-Hamilton, the last undefeated team in the event, had two games to try for the championship. But the Builders forced the contest “if necessary”, winning 14-3 behind effective pitching by winner Logan Earley (4-3) and Clay O’Brien. They haven’t scored in the first three innings but have scored in each of the last six. They had 16 hits, including three each by Burcham and Ellis. Packert and Camden Weston each had two hits, two runs and two RBIs, and Luke Wells was 2-for-2 with three runs.
Apprentice’s momentum didn’t carry over into the opening innings of the rematch against the Harriers, but the Builders turned the script around to add a title to those they won in 2007 and 2015.