GREENVILLE, S.C. (Wofford SID) – The No. 3 Wofford baseball team left it all on the field for 18 innings Saturday at Fluor Field in the Southern Conference Baseball Championship Presented by Holston Gases, but the No. 1 Samford Bulldogs prevailed twice, 7-2 and 5-2, to claim the 2023 SoCon Championship. Wofford falls to 40-19 with the results while Samford improves to 36-23.
At the conclusion of the tournament, the SoCon announced the All-Tournament Team, which features a record six Terriers: Matthew Marchal (SP), Lucas Mahlstedt (RP), Cameron Gill (C), Brice Martinez (2B), Jack Renwick (SS) and Marshall Toole (OF). The six selections top the four of the 2007 championship team for the most in program history. Marchal repeats on the team after earning the honors last season, becoming Wofford’s first-ever two-time All-Tournament Team recipient.
Mike Eggert (4-2) started for Wofford and suffered the loss after tossing a career-high 6.0 innings with six runs allowed (three earned) on seven hits and a walk.
Samford starter Jacob Newman (3-2) earned the win after 6.0 innings of work with no runs allowed on three hits and a walk. Ben Petschke (14) notched a save after pitching the final inning.
The Terriers tallied six hits, led by Trey Yunger and Brice Martinez with two each. Martinez added a walk to reach base three total times. One of his hits was a triple, Wofford’s only extra-base knock in the game. Cameron Gill drove home both Wofford runs in the contest with a hit on his ledger. Though hitless, Dixon Black reached base twice via the walk.
Samford did not need much time to get on the board, plating a run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the first for the early 1-0 edge.
The Bulldogs settled down at the plate for two innings before finding a rhythm in the fourth, scoring three more in the top of the frame. Samford’s lead extended to 4-0.
Samford continued with two runs in the top of the sixth and one more in the top of the seventh. The Bulldogs lead had extended to 7-0.
After being held off the board for six innings, Wofford cracked through in the seventh. Brice Martinez tripled down the right field line, and Cameron Gill immediately followed up with a single to bring him home. The deficit stood at 7-1.
Wofford tried to mount a rally in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs. Gill was hit with a pitch to plate one, but three-straight strikeouts thereafter would end the contest. Samford won 7-2 to force the winner-take-all if necessary championship game.
Terrier starter Matthew Marchal (11-4) suffered the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) on four hits in 4.1 innings. He struck out three batters. Coulson Buchanan tossed a scoreless 1.2 innings in relief, and Lucas Mahlstedt finished off the final 2.0 frames with a run given up on two hits.
Samford starter Heath Clevenger (1-1) took the win after pitching 6.2 innings with only a run allowed on two hits and two walks. Jacob Cravey (1) notched a save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning with a hit and walk surrendered.
Wofford tallied four hits in the contest, with Dixon Black accounting for half of them. Brice Martinez and Gunnar Johnson recorded the other two with one apiece, each driving home a run. Black and Martinez also each added a walk. Black swiped three bases in the game, a career high.
Samford again scored first in the first, this time plating three in the bottom of the frame. A sacrifice fly put the Bulldogs on the board, and a fielding error would later allow two more to cross home. Samford claimed an early 3-0 advantage.
An RBI single in the fifth added another for the Bulldogs, making the score 4-0.
Wofford got onto the board in the top of the seventh. Dixon Black worked a walk and then stole second and third. Brice Martinez delivered an infield single that plated Black to cut the score to 4-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Samford seemed poised to blow the game open with the bases loaded and no outs. But David Wiley came up clutch in right field, securing a fly ball that had “sacrifice fly” written all it over it and delivering a perfect strike to that plate that beat the runner attempting to score by multiple steps. The double play helped reliever Lucas Mahlstedt escape the jam unscathed, keeping the margin at 4-1.
The Terriers followed offensively with a run in the top of the eighth. Wiley led-off the inning with a walk and then stole second. Gunnar Johnson followed with a single that scored Wiley, pulling Wofford within 4-2.
Samford got that run back in the bottom of the frame with a sacrifice fly. Though Mahlstedt picked off a runner at second to end the inng and limit the damage, the insurance run made the score 5-2 entering the final frame.
After a flyout, Black singled to precede a Martinez walk to give Wofford’s comeback hopes life. But the Terriers were unable to get anything else, as back-to-back outs from there brought an end to the contest, giving Samford the 5-2 win and the SoCon Championship.
Wofford concludes the 2023 season with its second-ever 40-win season. The 40 wins are second most in program history behind only last season’s mark of 42. The Terriers will return to the diamond next season for the 2024 campaign.