St. Louis, Mo., May 17, 2019 – The No. 5-ranked WashU baseball team secured a convincing 14-1 NCAA Tournament victory over Cornell College (Iowa) during Friday's action at Kelly Field in the St. Louis Baseball Regional.
WashU improved to 32-5-1 overall on the year while scoring the most runs in program history during NCAA postseason play. Cornell fell to 26-18 on the year after the defeat. The Bears outhit the Rams 15-6, while executing errorless baseball compared to three miscues by Cornell.
The Rams scored the first run of the contest during the top of the third inning on a pair of hits but senior starting pitcher John Howard remained poised. He earned his 11th straight win of the year pitching seven solid frames.
"He's our ace for a reason," said head coach Pat Bloom. "It's important for our guys to see him pitch with a tempo and intensity. That's what he brings to the table."
Howard, the 2019 University Athletic Association (UAA) Pitcher of the Year, allowed one earned run on four hits and no walks while striking out 10 batters. It is the third occasion this season and fourth overall which he has reached double digits in strikeouts. All four occasions have totaled 10 punch outs as Howard tied a career-best figure.
"John (Howard) is a rock and we know what we are going to get a great start from him," said 2019's UAA Position Player of the Year John Brinkman. "That gives the offense a lot of confidence."
Brinkman provided the offensive backing as he totaled five runs batted in with three hits in five at-bats. He was a triple shy of batting for the cycle.
"The defense was making plays today," said Howard. "It was nice to see our offense coming out firing on all cylinders."
The Bears bats immediately answered back for Howard in the bottom of the third inning while taking advantage of a few mistakes by Cornell in the field. With a pair of runners on, senior second baseman Evan Nagel executed a bunt back to the pitcher to help move the runners along.
However, the ball was thrown past the first baseman up the right field line before another misthrow allowed two runs to score and Nagel to reach third base. Brinkman provided the Bears first RBI of the contest following the balk that allowed Nagel to score. A thunderous swing sent the baseball past the left field fence for the Worden, Ill.-native's third homer of the year.
Nagel knocked in freshman shortstop Caleb Durbin in the fourth inning to push WashU's advantage to 5-1. Following a scoreless fifth inning the Bears tallied eight runs in the sixth inning.
WashU batted through the lineup, with sophomore third baseman Collin Kahal, Brinkman, freshman designated hitter Zac Styka and sophomore left fielder Sean Robinson providing run scoring hits. Brinkman and Robinson had multi-run doubles as the Bears lead ballooned to 13-1.
Brinkman knocked in the final tally of the contest in the seventh inning, cashing in freshman shortstop Tim Van Kirk after the first-year player doubled in his first plate appearance of the NCAA Tournament.
WashU will face game two's winner Coe College (35-5). The Kohawks defeated Aurora University 10-1 and will be the home team at Kelly Field during Saturday's 12 p.m. scheduled contest. Both teams will look to secure a place in Sunday's action and remain undefeated.
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