DuBOIS — The Penn State DuBois baseball team jumped on the back of starter Toner Corl Tuesday night against Bryant & Stratton, and the Lion righty carried his squad to today’s winners’ bracket finals with a dominant performance in a 4-0 victory.
Corl outdueled Bobcat Marlinson Brunken in a good, old-fashion pitcher’s duel that took just over an hour and half to complete. Corl tossed a three-hit shutout, striking out five and walking just one. The Lion faced just three over the minimum, thanks to two caught stealings in the game.
Brunken wound up the hard-luck loser after taking a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning. Despite that fact, Brunken and the Bobcats found themselves trailing 1-0 after DuBois capitalized on three walks to score a run without a hit in the second.
That one run proved to be enough for Corl. But, his teammates tacked on three huge insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth — an inning punctuated by a two-run homer to deep center field by Clayton Butler. The homer was Butler’s second in as many games at the World Series.
Staked to a 4-0 lead going to the seventh, Corl got two quick outs on groundballs, fielding a comebacker for the second out. Felix Garcia gave Bryant & Stratton some life with a two-out walk — Corl’s lone free pass of the game. However, pinch-hitter Ivinson Batista promptly lined out to Stouffer at first to end the game.
The victory avenged a pair of losses (4-1 & 9-7) to the Bobcats at Showers Field on April 25. It also set up a rematch from last year’s national championship game opponent in The Apprentice School, which remained unbeaten Tuesday with a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory against Wright State-Lake in eight innings.
Apprentice beat DuBois, 4-3, in last year’s first championship, but DuBois repsonded with a 10-2 victory in the if-necessary game to take home their first national title.
“That was all Toner Corl,” said Penn State DuBois coach Tom Calliari. ‘We just jumped on his back and he single-handedly won that game. Yeah we got that crooked number late, which was big, but Toner has some of the best stuff in the tournament and he proved that tonight.
“Now we have a rematch from (last year’s) championship game. They (Apprentice) are extemely good. They threw out arms today that were D-I arms — high 80s, low 90s guys.
“And, they feel like they owe us, and it’s going to be another battle. We’re excited to compete and hopefully the fans come out again and support us and get this place a little louder. We’re just going to do what we can against them.”
Bryant and Stratton, the No. 7 seed threatened in the top of the first, getting a two-out infield single by Petar Rumora before Jion Cras reached on an error. Corl stopped the rally there though, as a fielder’s choice ended the inning.
Corl settled in from there, striking out the side in the second as part of a run of 12 straight outs for the righty that went into the top of the fifth.
Michael Santos ended that run with a one-out single in the fifth but was gunned down by catcher Joey DiPiero trying to steal second to end the inning.
Brunken was nearly as good through five innings, but his control hurt him in the second when walked Vince McDowell, Butler and Brandon Gettig to open the inning to load the bases. DiPietro made Brunken pay as he lined a ball to center field that went in the book as a sacrifice fly that scored McDowell to put the Lions up 1-0.
The Bobcats promptly turned a 5-4-3 double play to end inning. Brunken then retired nine of the next 10 batters he faced, with only a two-out error in the fourth allowing the Lions only base runner to reach.
Still trailing 1-0, Bryant and Stratton got a leadoff single by Brunken in the top of the sixth. He promptly stole second before Corl fielded a comebacker — holding Brunken at second on the play.
The Bobcat advanced to third on a groundout, which brought No. 3 batter Rumora to the plate. Rumora worked his way to a 3-0 count but Corl countered with two straight strikes.
On the second strike, Brunken tried to steal home on DiPietro’s throw back to Corl, who wasn’r caught off guard. He quickly threw back to DiPietro who blocked the plate and applied the tag to end the inning.
Third-seeded DuBois carried that momentum into the bottom of the sixth, where Isaac Stouffer broke up Brunken’s no-hit bid with a two-out single. Thayne Morgan came on to run for Stouffer and wasted little time stealing second.
McDowell then ripped a Brunken pitch right-center for a double that plated Morgan.
Shane Haberberger pinch ran for McDowell, but he was able to trot home when Butler blasted a Brunken pitch over the high wall in center field to make it a 4-0 game.
“That was a huge hit by Vinny, and Butler drove the final nail in the coffin there at the end,” said Calliari. “When our guys smell blood, they go after it.”
Brunken allowed the four earned runs on just three hits while striking out three and walking three.
The Bobcats play an elimination game today against No. 5 Misissippi University for Women at Showers Field, while DuBois and Apprentice play at 3 p.m.