Denison's incredible 2019 season came to an end on Saturday after a 5-3 loss to Adrian at the NCAA Division III Regional at Nicolay Field. The Big Red end the year with a program-best record of 39-9.
After suffering a 2-1 loss to Heidelberg earlier in the day, the Big Red were forced into an elimination game, 45 minutes after the conclusion of the Heidelberg game. Senior Danny Brackman took the ball for Denison and went 5.0 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits. Pitching wasn't the problem for the Big Red on this night. Brackman was sharp and so was NCAC Newcomer of the Year, Will McManaman, who entered in relief of Brackman.
Denison's inability to get the big hit is what sealed their fate. The Big Red were just 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position. They also left a season-high 17 runners on-bases. Despite the uncharacteristic lack of clutch hitting, Denison's determination and grit was on full display.
A perfect example of that grit was sophomore second baseman, Anthony Ruggieri. Mired in a 2-for-21 slump since the postseason began last week in Chillicothe, all Ruggieri did was go 5-for-5. His final hit came with Denison down to its last strike, with two outs in the ninth. Ruggieri's single was followed by a double to left-center by Max Lahn. Grady Paine swung and missed on strike three but the ball got away from Adrian catcher Gunner Rainey. The ball squirted toward third base and Rainey had to throw a laser to get Paine in a bang-bang play at first base to end the game.
The Big Red had 11 hits in the game, led by Ruggieri's 5-for-5 night. Ty Robinson was 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Adrian's Jesse Marks got the win in relief of starter Maxwell Denny. Marks worked 2.0 innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out three. Brandon Schulze earned his first save of the season in 2.2 innings of relief. He scattered three hits and did not allow a run.
Adrian (37-8) will play Heidelberg (32-13) on Sunday in the regional championship.