Greeneville, Tenn. (May 28, 2019) – Down 9-1 going to the fifth inning, the chances of the Runners coming from behind against No. 2 seed Brookhaven looked slim.
Then Alex Gattinelli turned the NJCAA Division III College World Series on its head.
With a sacrifice fly in the fifth to cut the Bears lead to 9-3, Gattinelli then singled in a run in the three-run seventh that cut the Brookhaven lead to just three, hit the game-tying three-run home run in the eighth to knot the score at nine, and struck the final blow to the Bears, singling into right center with the bases loaded and the game tied at 10 to send the Runners to a rematch with rival Cumberland County Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.
"I've never been a part of something like that," Gattinelli said. "I always believed. We always believed. All the guys are crying over there because we believe."
Gattinelli finished the night with four hits, six RBI, and two runs scored. The sophomore has nine RBI on the tournament, 30 in his last 17 outings, and 76 on the season.
"He's a great player," head coach Rob Valli said. "He's going to be a pro player and he's probably going to be involved in the draft next week. Great energy by him and our guys, we just never say die."
While the sophomore catcher stole the show, the Runners' final three pitchers gave the Gattinelli-led offense the chance to work their way back into the game after Shayne Clowar and Jose Ledesma were credited with giving up nine of the 10 runs Brookhaven would score. The first of the three was Nate Williams, who came into the contest in the fourth and allowed an inherited runner that Ledesma left behind to score before settling in and advancing the Runners to the sixth. Joe Marino then took over for Williams, swinging the momentum to RCGC's side by striking out four in 2.1 hitless innings as the Runners chipped away at the deficit. Nick Evangelista would be the final arm for Valli's squad, getting the final four outs, the final three pitchers combining to allow just one run over the last six frames.
"Our bullpen were the ones that gave us energy," Valli said. "Joe came in and gave us good energy on that side of the ball which helped because we couldn't solve their lineup. Then we went to our guy Evangelista, and when you bring him into a game like that, the guys start to believe even more."
A slow start on every side of the ball for the Runners gave way to the strong finish from the pitchers and 18 total hits from the offense. Along with Gattinelli's four, three came for nine-hitter Jose Correa, while five others notched two hits as the relentless effort of the Runners paid off at the most crucial of times, keeping their season alive.
The victory gives RCGC the opportunity Wednesday to exact revenge on their Route 55 rival, Cumberland County, who sent the runners to the loser's bracket Monday in a wild 15-13 affair. A win in Wednesday's 7 p.m. game forces the "if necessary" contest the following evening, which would decide if RCGC claims their eighth title in program history, or if Cumberland secures their first national crown in any sport.
"We're winning it all," Gattinelli said. "There's no doubt in my mind. Everybody on this team believes we're the best in the country, and we're going to bring it home."
To follow Wednesday's action with live statistics, video, or both, click here and scroll midway down the page to Game 14.
Roadrunner Baseball will take on the winner of Century College vs. Brookhaven College this evening at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, TN in a national semifinal matchup. The #1 seeded Roadrunners fell into the loser's bracket after a tough 15-13 defeat ending past 1am in the morning.
Game time is set for 7pm ET from the site of the 2019 NJCAA Division III College World Series, Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tenn. on the campus of Tusculum University.