MASON, Ohio - Tiffin baseball will play for a GMAC Championship on Saturday, as they took down Kentucky Wesleyan College 5-3 in the semifinals on Friday afternoon behind a complete-game gem on the mound from Cody Orr.
As the seven-seed, the Dragons have now defeated three-straight higher seeds (#2 Ohio Dominican, #3 Trevecca Nazarene, #5 Kentucky Wesleyan) to advance to the final. TU now awaits the winner of KWC and ODU tomorrow at noon at Prasco Park.
Orr was nearly untouchable from the hill in the first seven innings, and finished the complete game allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out 10 and walking just one. Five different Dragons recorded RBIs in the win and six had multiple hits, including Orr helping out his own cause with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning.
John Heckman led off the top of the second with a ringing triple off the wall in right, and was brought home by Jack Dennis on an RBI single to give Tiffin an early lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Zach Campbell hit his second home run in as many games as the sophomore launched a solo shot off the scoreboard in right-center field.
Orr's RBI single came with two outs in the fifth as he plated Kyle Vance, who had led off the frame with a double. The Dragons picked up two more runs, one apieced in the seventh and eighth innings, on RBI singles by Brayden Callihan and Vance to put TU up 5-0.
Orr cruised through the first seven innings, allowing just three hits and striking out eight during that stretch. He got some help from his defense as well, as Nich Green gunned down a runner attempting to steal in the first and the Dragons turned a pair of double plays to get out of innings.
Kentucky Wesleyan's bats could not be held down forever, though, as they started the bottom of the eighth with two doubles, a triple, and a sacrifice fly to cut the Tiffin lead to two. Orr was able to dig in and finish off the Panthers, though, getting out of that inning before striking out the final two KWC hitters in the ninth with a runner on second.
Orr was then mobbed by teammates, and the celebration was on as TU advanced to a conference final for the second time in the last three seasons, also reaching the GLIAC title game in 2017.
Heckman continued his torrid stretch from the plate, as he has now recorded a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, including each of the last seven. During that seven-game stretch, six have been multihit outings, and seven of the 16 hits have been for extra bases.
Callihan picked up three hits and an RBI, while Jack Dennis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single and a double. The complete game was the third of the season and second of the nine-inning variety for Orr, as he has gone at least five innings in each of his last eight starts and allowed three or less earned runs in each of the last six. The 10 strikeouts is also a career high for the sophomore, and makes it four of his last five outings with eight or more punchouts.
As mentioned, the championship game will be played Saturday at noon. Since TU is the only undefeated team left in the tournament, a win in that contest would clinch the title. If the Dragons fall, they would have another shot, as they would face the same opponent again 30 minutes after with the GMAC Championship going to the winner.