JOPLIN, Mo. — With runners at second and third and no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and the scored tied at 2-2, Janson Roberson laced a single to right field to drive in the winning run and send the third-seeded University of Tennessee at Chattanooga home as the National Club Baseball Association Division II World Series Champions.
“This is probably the greatest feeling I’ve had in my entire life,” Roberson said. “We have a great team and the most heart on the field, so I knew we would come out and do it.”
A back-and-forth game between the Mocs and the eighth-seeded University of Saint Louis went into extra innings after the Billikens tied the game up with a bases-loaded walk in the top of the sixth inning. A pair of errors to start the last of the eighth put two runners in scoring position with no one out for UT Chattanooga. With an 0-1 count, Janson jumped all over a fastball away and lined it to right field to give the Mocs a 3-2 walk-off win over the Billikens Tuesday at Warren Turner Field.
“From the beginning, I knew that this was going to be a really competitive college organization,” Roberson said. “With our talent, I knew we could do a lot of things and go a really long way. We’ve had a lot of guys who have played college ball and other guys who have played at a really high level for most of their lives. I knew we had enough heart, and if we could put it all together that we could win this.”
The Mocs were led on the mound by the dominating pitching performance of NCBA World Series Most Valuable Player Ty Tucker, who went the distance in a complete-game win for UT Chattanooga. In eight innings of work, Tucker allowed two runs, one earned, on nine hits, one walk and struck out 10.
“This feels great. We’ve worked hard all year and now we’re champions,” Tucker said. “I was getting tired out there, but I knew I had to pull through … I’ve never played for anything like this before. It feels great just to keep playing baseball.”
Tucker pitched through adversity off and on during his longest outing of the year, but faced his toughest test in the top of the sixth inning.
The Billikens got the first three hitters to reach via a base hit, error and hit batsman to load the bases with the Mocs on top 2-1.
St. Louis’ Conner Glogowski drew a walk against Tucker in the next at-bat to force in a run and tie the game at 2-all.
Tucker settled in and got a pop up to second base for the first out of the inning.
UT Chattanooga third baseman Connor Walker snared a short-hop bullet from his knees off the bat of USL’s Matt Dreyer to get the force out at the plate and keep the game tied with the bases loaded.
Tucker got C.J. Spink on another pop up to second base with the bases juiced for the final out of the inning.
“Ty is one of the best pitchers that I have ever seen,” Roberson said. “He has great command of his stuff and just knows how to pitch. You’re not going to get him off of the mound in a game like this. He is one of the greatest.”
The game remained scoreless from there until a pair of Billiken errors on the infield allowed the first pair of UT Chattanooga runners to get on and move to second and third ahead of Janson’s game-winning hit.
Mocs at the Plate
Justin Miller finished the game going 2 for 3 at the plate.
Jacob Whitehair and Jeremy Gonzalez each had a 1-for-4 game at the plate, with Whitehair scoring a run and Gonzalez driving in one.
Roberson went 1 for 4 with an RBI, and Tucker went 1 for 3 and scored a run.
Christian Bednar started the game on the bump for USL, going five innings on the mound and allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits and three strikeouts.
Collin Burnham pitched two innings in relief, taking the loss after allowing one unearned run on two hits and three strikeouts.
At the plate, Andy Oliver went 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
Glogowski and Zach Wisniewski each had 2-for-3 days at the plate, with Glogowski scoring once.
Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.