CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—No. 7/9 Babson College twice pulled within in a run over the final three innings before seeing its historic season come to a close with a 6-5 loss to No. 22/21 Johns Hopkins University in an elimination game at the Division III College World Series on Sunday afternoon inside Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Babson, which reached the College World Series for the first time in program history, ends the year at 39-10. Johns Hopkins improves to 36-12 and now must defeat Birmingham Southern College twice to advance to the championship series.
Senior Connor Gill (Sterling, Mass.), classmate Eric Jaun (Loveland, Ohio) and junior Jake Oliger (Newtown, Conn.) all finished with two hits and an RBI for the Beavers. Seniors Brian McHale (Ramsey, N.J.) and Edward Lehr (Byram Township, N.J.) also recorded two hits apiece, while first-year Thomas Lapham (Charlestown, Mass.) contributed a single, two walks and two runs scored in the loss. Sophomore Jordy Allard (Woodstock, Vt.) suffered the loss after giving up six runs and registering one strikeout over 8.2 innings to fall to 8-1 on the year.
First-year AJ King (Cincinnati, Ohio) went 3-for-4 with two RBI and junior Mike Eberle (North Hampton, N.H.) and classmate Chris Festa (Verona, N.J.) both added three hits and scored a run apiece for the Blue Jays. Graduate student Chris DiGiacomo (Norwell, Mass.) had two hits and an RBI and senior Tim Kutcher (Forest Hill, Md.) went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored in the victory. Fellow senior Sean McCracken (Ballwin, Mo.) improved to 8-2 with the win after giving up four runs, three of them earned, to go along with strikeouts over 7.0 innings. Classmate Josh Hejka (Dearborn, Mich.), who pitched 9.2 innings in Friday's win over Babson, recorded the final three outs to earn his seventh save.
Johns Hopkins left runners in scoring position in each of the first two frames before taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce when DeGiacomo's two-out ground ball hit the first base bag to score Eberle to key a three-run rally in the third. Festa raced home from third on a double steal to make it 2-0 and King capped the frame with an RBI knock to center that scored DeGiacomo, who was originally called out at the plate before the call was overturned, extending the margin to 3-0.
Kutcher scored on wild pitch after reaching with a two-out single in the fourth, and King came through with another RBI base hit in the fifth to extend the Blue Jays' cushion to 5-0 in the fifth. The Green and White, limited to just one hit over the first four frames, cut into its deficit in the last of the fifth. Gill hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to drive in junior Matthew Valente (Wyckoff, N.J.), and Lapham scored on a throwing error following a walk to junior Sean Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) to get within 5-2.
Lapham started the seventh with a walk and scored on Gill's single to left two batters later to make it 5-3. Oliger came through with a two-out RBI knock to left two batters later making it a one-run game, and the Beavers nearly pulled even in the eighth only to see Lehr gunned down at the plate on McHale's liner off the glove of sophomore Mark Lopez (Baltimore, Md.) at second base.
Johns Hopkins picked up a key insurance run on Festa's two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth before Babson put Hejka on the ropes in its final at bat. Gill led off with a single, Oliger reached with a base hit up the middle, and Jaun made it 6-5 by shooting another single to right. Unfortunately for the Beavers they would get no closer as Hejka induced back-to-back groundouts to strand the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.
• Babson is 1-2 all-time against Johns Hopkins.
• With a pair of knocks on Sunday, McHale recorded his 21st multi-hit game of the season and finishes his career with a school-record 205 hits. He also ends his Babson career ranked in the top five in doubles, total bases, runs scored, at-bats and games played.
• The Beavers' all-time leader in games played and at-bats, Jaun's two-hit day pushes him into a tie for sixth place on the program's all-time list with 187. He also is tied for eighth in Babson history with 111 RBI.
• The program's senior class of Gill, Jaun, Lehr, McHale, Nicholas Browne (Mount Laurel, N.J.), Michael Genaro (Greenwich, Mass.), Nicolas Parente (Lincoln University, Pa.) and Max Tannenbaum (Coral Springs, Fla.) won 127 career games, which is good for the most in program history.
• Each of Babson's final five games were decided by a single run, and the Green and White ended the year with a 10-2 mark in one-run contests.