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University of Central Missouri
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Mules Baseball Claims 17th Regional Crown with 7-4 Win over Arkansas-Monticello

Contact: Mike Knipper
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (May 23, 2016) -- The ninth-ranked Mules captured the 2016 Central Region championship with a 7-4 win over Arkansas-Monticello on Monday afternoon at Joe Faber Field. It is the 17th regional crown in program history and the Mules advance to next week's NCAA-II World Series in Cary, North Carolina for the first time since 2011.

UCM (42-13) jumped on top right out of the gates when Matt Elliott blasted a leadoff home run to straightaway center field to put the Mules in front 1-0. The Boll Weevils (40-16) answered right back in the bottom of the first to tie the game 1-1, but it could have been much worse for UCM. Arkansas-Monticello loaded the bases with no outs against Reece Ponak and Travis Steinke drew a walk to force in a run. Lucas Williams came out of the bullpen and got a pair of strikeouts and a line out to end the inning and keep the game tied.

The Mules went back in front in the top of the second when Matt Safranek brought home Derek Cornell with a sacrifice bunt to make it 2-1. The lead grew to 3-1 in the third when Jake Alexander singled home Elliott following a leadoff double.

The Boll Weevils tied the game in the bottom of the third getting a leadoff home run from Corey Wood and a bases loaded single from Guy Halbert. UAM took the lead in the fourth on Mitchell Dornblut's RBI single to lead 4-3. It was the first deficit of the tournament for the Mules.

The Mules regained the lead for good with three runs in the fifth. Elliott led off with a double, stole third and scored on Dylan Farrell's single up the middle to knot the game at 4-4. Later in the inning Derek Cornell singled home Farrell and UCM led 5-4. The Mules then executed a perfect double steal with Cornell taking second and Jake Alexander coming home to score to make it 6-4.

Alexander's RBI groundout in the sixth brought home Blake Wilfong and the Mules led 7-4.

The UCM pitching staff would make the lead stand up. Williams (4-1) tossed four innings of relief, allowing three runs on eight hits to earn the win. Tayler Ross came on in the fifth and tossed 3.2 innings of one-hit ball. Andy Muehlberger relieved Ross in the eighth and after allowing an infield single to bring the tying run to the plate, he struck out tournament MVP Corey Wood to keep UCM in front. Grant Gavin came on in the ninth to secure the win for UCM, he allowed a two-out double, but got Nick Cerda to groundout to Jackson Schnurbusch at shortstop to end the game and send the Mules in to a dogpile down the first base line.

The save was Gavin's 13th of the season, putting him alone in second place on UCM's single-season list. His 16 career saves are the fourth most all-time.

Elliott finished the game 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and three runs scored. Alexander was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.

Gavin, Elliott, Cole Distler and Bennett Oliver were all named to the Central Regional All-Tournament Team.

The Mules advance to the 17th Division II World Series in program history. They will square off with Southeast Region Champion Lander in the first round on Sunday, May 29.

Mules baseball regional win 2016
The ninth-ranked Mules captured the 2016 Central Region championship, advancing to next week's NCAA-II World Series in Cary, North Carolina for the first time since 2011.