APPLETON, Wisconsin -- Freshman left-hander Tyler Leavitt (North Andover, Mass.) hurled a complete-game four-hitter as the University of Southern Maine Huskies defeated the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Pointers, 8-1, in an elimination game of the 2013 NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament being played at Fox Cities Stadium.
The Huskies, now 45-9 overall, advances to the final day of the tournament on Tuesday needing two wins to capture their third national title. Monday's late game features Linfield College against Ithaca College. If Linfield (3-0 in the tournament) wins, the Huskies would need to sweep two games from Linfield. If Ithaca (2-1 in the tournament) defeats Linfield, then the Huskies (3-1 in the tournament) would meet Ithaca on Tuesday with the winner playing Linfield in a one-game, winner-take-all contest for the national title. The first game Tuesday will begin at 12:00 p.m. (EDT).
Leavitt, 5-0 on the season, was masterful allowing no earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out two. The only run the Pointers posted came in the fourth when senior Ryan Schilter (West Bend, Wis.) reached on an infield error and moved to second on a wild pitch. Schilter took third on a fly out to center field and scored on a single up the middle by sophomore Jimmy Coady (La Crosse, Wis.). Coady stole second and took third on a ground out, but Leavitt stranded him there getting sophomore Riley Spetz (Sevastopol, Wis.) to lineout to shortstop to end the inning.
Leavitt also stranded UWSP junior Casey Barnes (Mequon, Wis.) at third in the second inning after giving up a one-out triple. Over the final five innings, Leavitt gave up only one single and two walks. He retired eight in a row at one point and got out of a mini jam in the eighth with an inning-ending double play.
The Southern Maine bats came alive knocking out 11 base hits. Junior Matt Verrier (Norway, Maine/Oxford Hills) led the attack going 2 for 3 with an RBI double and a three-run homer. Senior Tucker White (Deerfield, N.H./Coe-Brown/Northwood) and juniors Chris Bernard (Scarborough, Maine) and Troy Thibodeau (Danvers, Mass./New Hampton) each had two hits. White had three RBI, and Bernard scored two runs.
After UWSP took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, the Huskies responded with five runs in the home half of the frame. White tied the game with an RBI single to score rookie Sam Dexter (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) from second base. Dexter led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior John Carey (South Portland, Maine).
White scored the go ahead run, just beating the relay throw to the plate, on a double to left center by junior Forest Chadwick (Gardiner, Maine). After Bernard was hit by a pitch, Verrier blasted the first pitch he saw from losing pitcher, junior Max Frederick (New London, Wis.), deep over the left field wall for his third homer of the season and a 5-1 USM lead. Frederick was charged with five runs on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out one.
The Huskies tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning against UWSP junior reliever Brad Stroik (Stevens Point, Wis.). Thibodeau singled, Dexter walked, and Carey successfully moved the runners along with another sacrifice bunt. White delivered both runners with a single up the middle.
USM added its final run in the sixth inning when Bernard singled off Stroik, and Verrier greeted UWSP sophomore reliever Nick Prebelski (Green Bay, Wis./Notre Dame) for a double to left-center field.
UW-Stevens Point, which beat Southern Maine in Florida on March 24, 13-8, finished the season 41-10.