Branch Delivers Gem in 4-1 Win over Concordia Chicago
WHITEWATER, Wis. - For the second straight day, the Adrian College baseball team got a complete game effort from their starting staff as senior Holden Branch followed classmate Brent Greenwood with a dominant performance in another NCAA Midwest Regional victory. Branch gave up three singles and one earned run and improved to 8-0 in the 4-1 win over No. 4 Concordia Chicago on Thursday night. The Bulldogs (32-13) will now face top-seeded host No. 3 UW-Whitewater (38-7) at noon central time on Friday with the winner having the upper hand towards a regional championship.
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Drew Shutes walked and Dan Heatherly singled to left field with a fielding error allowing runners to move to second and third. R.J. Rios had a RBI bounce out to second to plate the first run and move Heatherly to third. Dakota Cararo followed with a sacrifice fly to center as Heatherly crossed home to make it 2-0.
The Cougars got their run in the top of the third as Steve Zubrzycki singled with one out as pinch runner Thomas Gier went to second. Both guys moved up a base on a wild pitch and Will Randerson lifted a sacrifice fly to right making it 2-1. Branch then settled in and blanked the Cougars over the final six innings allowing no hits.
"I just wanted to give our guys a chance to win tonight and I felt like I did that," said Branch. "Going into the start, coach (Craig) Rainey said that we needed to keep them off the bases due to their speed. I gave up a walk to start the eighth but got out of it and then my teammates added a run in the bottom of the eighth. My curveball was the best it has been all season and I was able to command it and keep them off balance."
The Bulldogs added single runs in the third and eighth innings. Heatherly had a RBI single in the third with two outs and he scored the team's fourth run in the eighth after a RBI single down the left field line by Cararo. Heatherly had three hits in four at-bats which was his first three-hit game since the season opener on Mar. 3 against Moravian. Cararo had a pair of RBI going 2-for-4 giving him a six-game hitting streak with five of those games coming with two hits in each game. He is now 11-for-22 (.500) this season at the plate. Corleone Desimone also went 2-for-4 with a double which was the game's only extra-base hit.