Coach Joe Wharton leads Richland College baseball team to World Series title; T-Ducks win fourth championship in past seven years

Your job as a leadoff hitter is to get on base.

In the biggest game of the season for the Richland College baseball team, Matt Williams did just that on Wednesday night, opening the T-Ducks’ NJCAA Division III World Series championship game against Montgomery with a double before later scoring the  first of two key runs in the frame.

The runs, and the momentum they gave Richland College, proved to be the difference in the T-Ducks defeating Montgomery, 7-5,  for their fourth national championship since 2002.

Williams was also key to giving Richland a 3-0 lead in the third inning when he led off with a walk. He then advanced to second on a passed ball, stole third base and scored on an error. Chris Castillo added an RBI single in the fourth to give the T-Ducks a huge 4-0 cushion, which they needed, along with Kirk Pritchett’s clutch pitching.

Montgomery, which lost ,17-2, to Richland College in the semifinal round, was threating to do serious damage in the fifth inning when it had runners on first and third with no outs after it had already scored one run. However, Pritchett forced a double play, which allowed another run, before he ended the inning with a strike out.

The T-Ducks then responded with a two-run sixth inning, thanks to one of two Chris Castillo RBIs and an unearned run,  to push their lead to 6-2. But like in the fifth inning, Montgomery responded with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to trim Richland’s lead to two before Chad Kruse’s RBI in the seventh lifted the T-Ducks to a 7-4 lead.

Montgomery was able to cut the lead to 7-5 in the bottom half of the inning but with runners on first and third with one out, but Pritchett struck out the next two batters to end the inning and the threat. Pritchett, who threw a complete game, made sure Montgomery wouldn’t score any more runs as he allowed only one more hit. Pritchett  finished the game with 11 strikeouts.

Richland College finished its championship season with a 47-13 record.