HAVERFORD, Pa. – In a game that had all the requisite energy and intensity of a playoff opener, the second-seeded Haverford College baseball team caught visiting third-seeded Ursinus, 5-4, with a tenth-inning walk-off fielder's choice grounder off the bat of sophomore Nick Perez.
The Fords improve to 20-14-1 with the win and will advance to face top-seeded and national No. 4 Johns Hopkins on the second day of the Centennial Conference tournament on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. Ursinus falls to 23-15 overall in defeat and will face Gettysburg in earlier action at 9:00 a.m.
The Fords received a stellar outing on the mound from sophomore Tom Phillips. Philips did not allow an earned run over eight innings of work, striking out six while walking just a pair of Bears.
Haverford got on the scoreboard first, as starter Seth Regensburg of Ursinus gave up a home run to Ben Furlong with one down in the bottom of the second. Furlong needs just two more round-trippers to tie the Haverford single-season record set by Ben Einbinder in 2007.
Regensburg cruised out of trouble and shut down Haverford in order in the third inning, as both pitchers worked quickly and with purpose on an increasingly dreary Thursday afternoon.
In the fourth inning, Phillips induced back-to-back grounders to Will Karp at second for a quick two outs. The next batter, Alex Mumme reached on a throwing error by Phillips, as the sophomore made an outstanding play to corral a chopper in front of the mound, but faltered with an errant throw.
Mumme advanced to second ahead of a Carter Usowski single that plated a run and an Austin Kurey walk. The next batter, Kieran Geyer, charged a homer to right field for 3 RBI, as Ursinus took a 4-1 lead after three and a half innings.
Regensburg looked to be in cruise control with easy innings in the fifth and sixth as Phillips matched the efforts in a pitchers' duel. An error later helped the Fords rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Ethan Lee-Tyson reached on an throwing error by the Ursinus third baseman and advanced on a groundout and a wild pitch. Spencer Sohmer then clanked a towering shot off the right field scoreboard, plating Lee-Tyson to pull Haverford to within one at 4-3.
The Fords tied the score in what would prove to be the final inning of action for Regensburg. With one out, Sohmer singled to right field and Sam Partee followed with a single of his own to right. Furlong then poked a looping liner into right center, scoring Sohmer to tie the score at 4-4.
Brandon Jenkins worked around a Geyer single in his sole relief inning in the ninth. John Masella took over on the mound in the 10th after a fruitless trip to the plate for Haverford in the bottom of the ninth.
Vincent Terry and Travis Kozak reached on consecutive bunt singles before Masella was able to get two outs. Mumme was hit by a pitch, bringing up one of the best Ursinus hitters to the plate in the name of Carter Usowski. Usowski rocketed a hard grounder to second base where Karp was able to make a diving play on the ball, popping up quickly and throwing to Perez at first base. The play stranded the bases loaded and gave the Fords a chance to walk things off in the bottom of the inning.
With one out in the 10th, Partee walked and Furlong singled to left field. Harrison Burns then reached on an infield single, loading the bases for Karp with just one out. Karp popped up for the second out of the inning, as Matt Radwanski appeared destined for a second-straight scoreless frame.
Perez stepped up to the plate and delivered a well-struck grounder to shortstop. Usowski bobbled the pick up, but recovered quickly. The throw from the shortstop was rushed and pulled the second baseman off the Bag and Burns was able to slide in ahead of the throw. Partee scored the winning run from third to send the Fords and a seasonably large crowd into a frenzy.
Furlong led the way offensively for Haverford with a 3 for 5 day, including the home run. The Fords had five hitters with multi-hit games and Sohmer extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a 2 for 4 performance, including his home run.
Geyer and Mumme led the charge for the visitors, who were kept in the contest by an extremely strong outing from Seth Regensburg. Regensburg hurled 7.1 innings, surrendering 10 hits and striking out four on a day in which he was forced to work in and out of trouble before giving way to Radwanski.
Haverford will be back in action on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. against No. 4 Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. All the action can be seen on CentennialConference.tv throughout the weekend. Fans are encouraged to follow the Haverford social media channels for the latest information from all of the Centennial Conference championship action.