LITTLE FALLS - Niagara County Community College is headed to the NJCAA Div. III World Series for the fourth time in school history (2008, 2012, 2013 & 2016).
Freshman Nate Chase belted two moon shots into the bleachers, tournament MVP Joe Milkowski remained hot at the plate and Region III Div. III Player of the Year Matt Matre dealed on the bump as the Thunderwolves took down Herkimer College, 10-3, at Veteran's Memorial Park Sunday afternoon.
NCCC (43-5), which is ranked No. 3 in the latest NJCAA Div. III poll and recently set a new school record for wins in a season, will next play on Friday in Kinston, NC.
"This team did a great job of conquering the season," NCCC coach Matt Clingersmith said. "Any time you can win a regional championship and represent your school at the World Series it's special. This group is playing really well right now and I'm looking forward to giving it all we have down in North Carolina."
The Thunderwolves got on the board early, scoring three runs in the third inning. Sophomore shortstop Michael Colosi got things started with an RBI single, scoring James Brnik. Milkowski, who was 10-for-12 during the tournament, followed that up with a two-run double. NCCC tacked on two more in the fourth when Chase ripped a two-run home run.
Matre, a sophomore right-hander, endured some turbulance in the bottom half of the fourth, allowing a pair of Herkimer home runs. From there, though, he was able to work his way through 6 2/3 solid innings, improving to 9-0 on the season. Freshman lefty David Lyskawa and sophomore righty Alex Kubera closed out the game with a scoreless 2 1/3 innings.
NCCC blew the game open in the sixth when Milkowski and Chase both hit long balls. A two-run single by sophomore Charles Edwards in the seventh sealed the victory.
"The pitching and defense was outstanding this weekend," Clingersmith said. "We started to really sit back and drive the ball as the weekend wore on, too. That's a good sign heading into the World Series."
Region III Div. III Coach of the Year: Matt Clingersmith
Region III Div. III Player of the Year: Matt Matre
Region III Div. III Tournament MVP: Joe Milkowski
Region III Div. III All-Tournament: Nate Chase, Charles Edwards and Cameron Voss