Written by Matthew McKinney and Chris Pendleton
SPRINGFIELD, Ill.—Southern Virginia University baseball had its quest for the program's first national championship cut short on Wednesday with a 7-8 loss to No. 3 Rochester College at the 2012 USCAA Small College World Series.
Rochester (26-23) eliminated Southern Virginia (18-18) from the SCWS in heartbreaking fashion as the Warriors scored four runs during their final at bat in the bottom of the seventh to overcome a three-run deficit and hand the Knights their second loss of the double-elimination style national tournament.
After a blowout 13-2 victory over No. 7 seeded PSU-Beaver earlier on Wednesday, Southern Virginia found itself in a 4-4 tie with Rochester heading into the game's final inning.
Senior Andrew Snider (Lancaster, Calif.) and junior Trager Hintze (St. George, Utah) both came up big for Southern Virginia in the top of the seventh with back-to-back, two-out RBI singles giving the Knights their first lead since the third inning.
Following a wild pitch that allowed Snider to score Southern Virginia's seventh and final run of the game, the Knights entered the bottom half of the inning with a three-run (7-4) advantage and appeared on their way to the SCWS semi-finals, which would have brought them within one win of a return trip to the national championship game.
Staring down elimination, the Warriors rallied as their first three hitters reached base against Southern Virginia reliever Jordan Stailey (Silver City, N.M.) loading the bases for Rochester with no outs. With the bases juiced, Rochester's Zabaleta singled to right center driving in two runs making it 7-6.
Following a Southern Virginia pitching change—third-year Head Coach Logan Mann brought in sophomore Tyler King (San Ramon, Calif.) who leads the Knights with six wins this season—Rochester's next batter sacrifice flied to right knotting the game at 7-7 with only one out.
The Warriors next batter grounded to third, however, giving Tyler Cox (Forest, Miss.) a chance to end the inning for the Knights with a 6-3 double play, but a throwing error by Cox allowed Rochester to stay alive and move the game-winning run to second.
Southern Virginia's error proved costly as Rochester strung together back-to-back, two-out singles for the go-ahead run and walk-off victory.
Southern Virginia's pitchers allowed only three earned runs and two walks against Rochester, but the Knights could not overcome their five errors, which led to five unearned runs for the Warriors.
Snider, who was named to the SCWS All-Tournament Team, closed out one of the best careers in Southern Virginia history going 1-for-2, while driving in 2 RBI's. The center fielder transferred to Southern Virginia after one year at Antelope Valley College and became a three-time All-American, while leading the Knights to three straight postseason appearances—the longest streak in the program's 13-year history.
Despite only three years in the program, Snider ranks second all-time in hits (166), doubles (34), homeruns (28), runs (115), RBI's (120) and total bases (302). He also ranks first all-time in triples (9) and has the program's third-highest career batting average (.390) and slugging percentage (.709).
Sophomore shortstop Mitch Stevenson (Muskogee, Okla.), who led the Knights with 55 hits this season, also came up big offensively going 2-for-3 at the plate, while knocking in a RBI and scoring 3 runs. With his pair of hits against Rochester, Stevenson finished the year tied with Snider for Southern Virginia's highest batting average (.387).
Along with Stevenson, fellow-sophomore Brandon Alexander (Oakley, Calif.) had a breakout season for Southern Virginia earning 2012 USCAA All-American honors in right field after leading the Knights with 11 homeruns—only one shy of the single-season record set by Jake Johnson and Snider last season—and 44 RBI's—tied for the single-season record.
With Wednesday's loss, Southern Virginia places fourth overall and finishes with the fourth-most wins in the program's 13-year history. The Knights also finished with the highest team batting average (.339) in university history.