CARY, N.C. – Lander's magical season came to an end Thursday night with a loss against the nation's No. 1 team at the NCAA Division II Baseball National Championships at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
The fourth-ranked Bearcats, one of three teams remaining out of eight at the College World Series, lost to Millersville University 4-2.
Lander's season ended at 44-16, including a runner-up finish in the Peach Belt Conference regular season and conference tournament, an NCAA Southeast Regional championship, and two wins in the CWS.
The Bearcats also went to the CWS in 2014 but went 1-2 in Cary.
Millersville (53-5) will face Nova Southeastern (42-16) in a best-of-3 for the Division II national championship this weekend in Cary.
For the fourth time in four games Thursday, the Bearcats took an early lead. Matt White drew a two-out walk in the top of the third and Colby Lusignan followed with a two-run homer over the wall in right center. It was the senior first baseman's 14th blast of the season.
It was Millersville's first deficit since May 11, six games ago.
Lander starting pitcher Colton Rogers got out of a big jam in the bottom of the fourth after the first two batters reached. Chas McCormick dropped a bunt single toward third, Mitch Stoltzfus singled to right, and the runners moved to second and third when Dan Stoltzfus grounded out to first.
With two runners in scoring position and just one out, Bearcats third baseman Mason Dodd fielded a short hop and fired across the diamond where first baseman Lusignan scooped up the second out. Jeremy Musser struck out swinging on a low Rogers fastball to end the threat.
But the Lander defense had a letdown in the fifth and it was costly. David Summerfield hit a leadoff single and Dan Neff reached when the Bearcats booted a potential double play ball. Ted Williams dropped a bunt that could have produced a force out at third base, but the ball was not fielded and the bases were loaded. Rogers walked Tyler Orris on four pitches to force in the first Marauders run.
Facing a must-win situation, Lander brought in closer Brandon White to try to limit the damage. McCormick greeted White with a two-run single in the hole between short and third, giving Millersville a 3-2 lead. But White came back strong, striking out Mitch Stoltzfus, walking Dan Stoltzfus to load the bases, and then struck out both Ben Snyder and Musser to prevent a bigger inning.
Rogers, a Nova Southeastern transfer, gave up three runs, two earned, while striking out five and walking one in four-plus innings of work. White allowed no runs, one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings before Robbie Hoyt took over in the seventh.
The Bearcats threatened in both the sixth and seventh innings but came up empty. John Mangum's one-out walk in the sixth was wiped out by a double play, and Millersville starter Shannon Cordell walked Will Jones and reliever Matt Ulrich walked Gatlin Minick before a second reliever Stephen Muscovitch recorded a strikeout to end the seventh.
Shannon allowed two runs on three hits with one strikeout and four walks in 6.2 innings.
Another error was costly for Lander in the bottom of the seventh when McCormick reached second on an infield single and throwing error, and scored on a two-out single up the middle by Dan Stoltzfus making it 4-2.
Lusignan drew the team's sixth walk of the game and 21st of the tournament with one out in the eighth, but Millersville's third double play ended the threat.
Mangum threw out an attempted base stealer in the bottom of the eighth as Hoyt pitched a scoreless inning. Hoyt allowed one run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts in two innings.
Reid Anderson took the mound in the top of the ninth for his second inning of relief and allowed a one-out single to Jones and a two-out walk to pinch hitter Alex Conaway before striking out the final batter looking.
Shannon (9-1) was credited with the win while Rogers (7-3) took the loss. Anderson recorded his first save of the season.
The Bearcats were held to four hits, a leadoff double by Zach Daly in the first inning, Lusignan's homer, and singles by Minick and Jones.
McCormick was 3-for-4 with two RBI while Mitch Stoltzfus had two hits for the Marauders.