The Carthage softball team faced an uphill climb Saturday in its bid for a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Tournament title.
But the Reds certainly gave it a go.
Carthage beat Wheaton, 2-1, in its first game in Bloomington, Ill., and led sixth-ranked Illinois Wesleyan, 1-0, heading into the top of the fourth inning, but the Titans scored all three of their runs in the fourth en route to a 3-1 victory to knock the Reds from the tournament.
The split dropped Carthage to 26-14 overall. The Reds will await word Monday at noon to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Wesleyan (33-7), which won its third straight tournament title, earns the conference automatic bid.
The Reds accomplished a rare feat for anybody facing Wesleyan starting pitcher Ally Wiegand, as they got on the scoreboard in the second inning on a solo home run by Kelsey Domagala.
Wiegand sports a miniscule 0.39 earned run average, a 19-2 record and has struck out 207 batters in 143 innings pitched.
Carthage held that lead until the fourth inning when the Titans reeled off three straight hits to drive in all of the runs they needed.
The Reds had just three hits off Wiegand, one each by Domagala, Brooke Sefcik and Makenzie Miller. Bradford graduate Ellie Bernero took the loss, as she allowed 11 hits, three earned runs and three walks.
Carthage tied Wheaton at 1-1 in the opener on an RBI single by Alexandra Millett in the second inning that scored Courtney Polanski. Domagala broke the deadlock in the fifth inning on a single that drove in Danielle Koziczkowski.
Millett led the Reds with two hits.
Starting pitcher Stefanie Guercio earned the win to improve to 18-4. She allowed three hits, an earned run, a walk and struck out seven in 42/3 innings. Bernero recorded her second save, as she allowed just one hit and fanned two.
Led by three All-CCIW efforts, Carthage finished second overall behind eight-time champion Illinois Wesleyan at Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
Wesleyan carded a team score of 877, followed by Carthage with a 900.
Tyler Muschewske led the Red Men with a three-day total of 224, including a 76 Saturday, which was good for seventh overall. Ben Alt was ninth with a 226, followed by Joe Vath, who tied for 10th with a 227. Teammate Zachary Shawhan also tied for 10th.
Carthage will learn Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. if it will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Championship Tournament.
Illinois Wesleyan 6, Carthage 2
Carthage 6, Illinois Wesleyan 0
The Red Men closed their season Saturday with a CCIW twinbill split in Bloomington, Ill.
Wesleyan broke a 2-2 tie in Game 1 with a four-run eighth inning that proved to be the difference.
Ricky Bergstrom led Carthage (18-22, 8-16) with two hits and two runs scored, followed by Jake Snider with two hits.
Chance Roach took the loss in relief of Tremper graduate Dante Guarascio. Roach allowed four earned runs and three walks without recording an out.
Guarascio pitched seven innings, and allowed seven hits, two earned runs, four walks and struck out eight.
Carthage scored twice in the top of the second inning in Game 2 and coasted to the shutout victory. Ryan Kramer led the 10-hit attack with three hits, a run scored and two RBI.
Starting pitcher Pasquale Atteo pitched 61/3 scoreless innings, as he allowed nine hits, a walk and struck out one to improve to 3-0. Roach struck out two in 22/3 innings to pick up his second save.
Davenport 4, UW-Parkside 3
The Panthers scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning to take the opener of a three-game series against the Rangers on Friday night at Carthage’s Augie Schmidt Field.
Jake Macaluso (1-4) was tagged with the loss, allowing a run and two hits over the final three innings.
Parkside (10-31, 5-20 conference) took its only lead of the game, 3-2, in the fifth inning when Justin Bennett doubled home Casey Oliver. Davenport (27-16, 13-11) tied the game in the sixth and plated the final run in the ninth after a leadoff single and a wild pitch.
Oliver (2-for-3, two runs), Bennett (2-for-4, two RBI) and Niko Diaz (2-for-4) led Parkside’s nine-hit attack.
Dan Truttschel and Scott Koker