MOLINE - Illinois Wesleyan's baseball team never got the lead Thursday against Linfield (Ore.) in the NCAA Division III Central Regional.
Thus, the Titans' season came to a quick and disappointing end.
Linfield scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a 3-all tie and held on to beat IWU, 5-4, in a loser's bracket game that eliminated the No. 1-seeded Titans at Swanson Stadium.
The Titans dropped their opener Wednesday to Webster (Mo.), 7-0.
"We felt as a coaching staff we had all the tools to make a run at the World Series," said IWU coach Dennis Martel. "To go 0-2 right away as a No. 1 seed, it's frustrating. It's embarrassing.
"I've never had a team go 33-11 that felt like it underachieved. When you get this far and have high expectations, it hurts more."
Matt Aronson (7-1) suffered his first loss in a complete-game effort. Aronson gave up 10 hits and four earned runs, walking none and striking out one.
"Matt struggled out of the gate and for the second game in a row we were behind 2-0 in the first inning," said Martel. "We were in kind of a funk all week. Matt settled in, but the first inning knocked us back on our heels."
Brian Clark (10-1) went 6 2/3 innings for Linfield to pick up the victory. Evan Hilberg allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings of relief for his first save.
Kevin Goshorn's solo homer in the second, his eighth of the season, and Kraig Ladd's run-scoring double in the third helped the Titans gain a 2-all tie.
Kevin Mills' solo homer in the fourth put Linfield (31-11) ahead before IWU tied it again on Ricky Angel's single that scored Tim Marzec in the fifth. Angel had two of the Titans' seven hits.
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Drew Van Cleave's double in the bottom of the fifth broke the tie, and Van Cleave later scored on a sacrifice fly.
Nate Rittenberry reached on an error to start the IWU seventh. He eventually scored on Tim McInerney's single before Hilberg stranded two runners to end the Titans' final threat.
"We scored four runs in 18 innings. We never had three hits in a row or three base runners in a row. We could never get anything going," said Martel. "When you're chasing all 18 innings against good teams, it comes back to get you."
Division III regional
IWU …011 …010 100 …- 4- 7-2
Linfield 200 120 00x - 5-10-3
Matt Aronson (L, 7-1) and Pat Garvey; Brian Clark (W, 10-1), Evan Hilberg (7, S, 1) and Drew Van Cleave.
ILLINOIS WESLEYAN (33-11) - HR - Kevin Goshorn (solo in second). 2B - Kraig Ladd. Two hits - Ricky Angel. RBI - Tim McInerney, Angel, Ladd, Goshorn. Pitching - Aronson (8 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO).
LINFIELD (31-11) - HR - Kevin Mills (solo in fourth). 2B - Drew Van Cleave. Two hits - Van Cleave, Mills. RBI - Van Cleave 2, Mills 2, Stew Davis. Pitching - Clark (6.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO).