APPLETON, Wis. — Junior pitcher/designated hitter Dylan Thomas contributed every which way in the St. Thomas baseball team’s 3-1 victory over defending national champion Marietta in an NCAA Division-III World Series second-round game Sunday, May 27, at Fox Cities Stadium.
Thomas pitched his first career complete game against the No. 1-ranked Pioneers (44-8), giving up seven hits and a run. He struck out seven and walked four.
Thomas also had a key RBI for the No. 4-ranked Tommies (40-8); while holding on to a 2-1 lead, freshman outfielder Jack Hogan hit a double and scored off Thomas’s seventh-inning single.
The game was delayed a day by rain. Both teams won their first-round games Thursday and got an extra day off.
Thomas threw a total of 149 pitches: 98 strikes and 51 balls. In his last 11 appearances, he’s posted an 8-0 record and a .98 ERA. He was most proud of his complete game against the tough Marietta lineup.
“I love it, it’s what I wanted,” Thomas said. “I have 100 percent faith in my bullpen, but there’s that feeling that you want to finish what you started.”
Coach Chris Olean said Thomas, who has been one of the Tommies’ “top three guys, if not the best” this season, kept his team in the game.
“Dylan threw a hell of a game,” Olean said.
Thomas was tested late in the game; the Pioneers loaded the bases in the top of the ninth inning with one out. But Thomas fanned junior pinch hitter Braden Park and senior second baseman Kirby Becker to secure the victory.
Marietta coach Brian Brewer described Thomas’ performance as “gutsy,” a word Olean thought was accurate.
“He did a nice job battling, got himself out of some tough jams,” Olean said.
St. Thomas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third. Junior shortstop Jon Kinsel led off with a single and advanced to second base after senior second baseman Justin Novak’s bunt. Kinsel scored on Hogan’s single. Senior third baseman Charles Bruchu then hit a triple, scoring Hogan from first.
Hogan, who led St. Thomas with two runs, two hits and one RBI, said that “any way to contribute (to his team) feels great.”
Thomas said he enjoys being at the plate, but he is a pitcher first and foremost.
“Pitching is my main thing here,” Thomas said. “Anyway I can help my team out with my bat is another positive.”
Marietta scored its sole run in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Thomas walked junior third baseman Bryan Gregorich.
St. Thomas had a close call in the seventh inning. With a runner on second, senior first baseman Dan Reichert and Novak collided when both players tried to catch junior catcher Alex Toth’s ball. The ball was dropped, and Thomas saw the runner reach third and start to run home. The dropped ball was about five feet from Thomas, who quickly threw it home to sophomore catcher J.D. Dorgan, who tagged the runner out at home.
Thomas said his play was “a quick reaction that ended up being a big play.”
While Olean is proud of the big win over the defending national champions, he expects Marietta to bounce back in the losers’ bracket.
“I have very little doubt that we’ll see them again,” Olean said.
St. Thomas’ next World Series game is against Wheaton College (Mass.) at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Wheaton is the other undefeated team in the bracket; it defeated Webster in the first game and State University of New York-Cortland in the second.
With the team guaranteed a top-four finish, Olean is confident going into the upcoming games.
“This team has a really good chance at this right now,” Olean said. “We’re in a good position.”
Hayley Schnell can be reached at email@example.com.