ADRIAN, Mich.--This time there was no comeback needed. Adrian Baseball scored the only runs of the day in the bottom of the very first inning and pitchers Pierce Banks and Dugan Darnell combined on a four-hit shutout to down visiting Hope, 2-0, to clinch the 2019 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Baseball Tournament on Friday and an automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.
= Final Scoreline: MIAA Tournament Game 6--Adrian College 2-6-0, Hope College 0-4-0
= Location: Location: Nicolay Field, Adrian, Mich.; Weather: Cloudy, 53 degrees, Wind WNW 12 mph
= Records: Adrian Bulldogs 35-7 overall (24-4 MIAA); Hope Flying Dutchmen 31-11 overall (14-14 MIAA)
= National Rankings: Adrian is No. 14 by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (262 points) and No. 10 in the D3baseball.com/National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (350) poll; AC's NCAA Mideast Regional Ranking: No. 5.
= Sophomore Brandon Cooper led all student-athletes with two hits.
= Darnell, a senior, went 1-for-3 with a run batted in, and pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn his MIAA-leading and Adrian-record eighth save of the spring.
= Banks, a junior, improved to 8-2 after throwing eight strong innings in which he allowed just three singles. He scattered five walks and struck out four.
= Evan Maday, Brant Kym, Joey Merucci and Jack Sojka all had singles for the Flying Dutchmen, who had six runners left on base.
= Shane Hykin (L, 4-2) lost the pitchers' duel, going seven innings. He allowed both runs and five hits with two strikeouts.
HOW IT HAPPENED
= Adrian got the only runs it needed in the first frame. Senior Zack Zschering singled to shortstop to lead off and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After two outs, junior Brady Wood singled through the right side to plate Zschering. Wood stole second base before scoring on a RBI-single again to right field by Darnell.
= Hope's best scoring opportunity came in the top of the eighth inning when Sojka singled to center field, advanced to second base on a ground out and went to third on a wild pitch. But Banks induced Trace Slancik into a groundout to first to end the threat.
= The Flying Dutchmen had the leadoff man on in the first, third, fourth, sixth and ninth innings, but could not score. Hope had a runner in scoring position only three times against the Bulldogs.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
= Adrian is now 21-4 lifetime in the conference tournament.
= Hope's Mason Opple ends his season as the RBI leader with 48 over Adrian's Thomas Miller who has 47. Miller's teammates Gunner Rainey, Wood and Darnell have 46, 44 and 42 for third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
= Sojka and Maday, both of the Flying Dutchmen, rank one-two in the conference with 28 and 27 stolen bases.
= Darnell leads the conference with eighth saves, breaking Chris Dubbs' Adrian single-season record of seven set in 1997.
= Hope leads the all-time series, 97-82, but Adrian is 26-11 over the last 37 meetings.
= Adrian has 371 runs scored this season to break the previous team benchmark of 370, set in 2017.
= Banks moves into a fifth-place tie for victories (Bobby Rickstad [23-6] from 2005-08 and Rylie Robinson [23-7] from 2011-14) on the Bulldogs career chart. He is 23-5 lifetime with 185 strikeouts, which is sixth in school history.
= Adrian wins the conference postseason tournament for the third year in a row and for the seventh time in eight seasons since it was started in 2012. The institution also has served as host seven times.
= This marks Adrian's first MIAA tournament shutout since the inaugural game seven years ago and the first shutout ever in the conference championship contest.
= The Bulldogs have earned their third NCAA tournament appearance in a row and 13th overall.
= Adrian will learn on Monday where it will be slotted in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship bracket. The Selection Show will air live at noon on NCAA.com.
AdrianBulldogs #GoDawgs #BulldogProud (photos below by Mike Dickie)