"We're coming together a lot better this year," Squirrels center fielder Matt Medlock said. "We're going to go all the way this time. All the way."
Last year, the Squirrels fell one win shy of heading to the World Series after crawling back from a first round loss and winning five straight games to advance to the final game.
The Squirrels have gone undefeated in the Midwest Regional so far by winning three straight since the rain suspended game that started on Friday and ended Saturday morning. And on Sunday afternoon, they reached one step closer by defeating the Kansas State Champions 8-4.
"We're close," Squirrels head coach Michael Minner said. "We're in the driver's seat. So, hopefully we can come out tomorrow and play baseball the way we can."
Offensively and defensively the Squirrels have been able to get it done this weekend. Charleston pounded out a total of nine runs in their first game, followed by a one-hit performance by Steven Dooley on Saturday and then both pitching and hitting came together on Sunday, which is something that Medlock said "couldn't happen at a better time."
Tyler Whybark picked up the win on the mound for the Squirrels by pitching all seven innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks. He also struck out four.
"Whybark did a great job," Minner said. "He threw the baseball well and he battled all day. I don't think he had his best stuff, but he battled and that's what it's all about. We swung the bats well and we did some good things offensively and built ourselves a lead and that allowed us to be able to pitch with a lead."
Whybark had plenty of run support from his fellow 'Squirrel-mates' that he could play with early in the game. Charleston put the first score on the board in the second inning when Medlock, who went 2-for-2, drove in the first of his three RBI's on the day with a double into left-center field. An error on the throw that went into the dugout from the Kansas defense allowed Chase McClendon to follow Whybark home and make it a 2-0 game.
Two more runs would score later in the inning when Kansas catcher Jacoby Martin attempted to pick off Medlock at third base. Martin's throw went into left field which allowed Medlock to score. Jarryd Smith finished the four-run fourth when he scored from first base on a hit and run call from the Squirrels' dugout. Blake Gaddis, who went 2-for-4, delivered the base hit that sent Smith home.
Four more runs would cross in the third inning on a RBI double from Mark Freed, a two-RBI triple from Medlock and a squeeze bunt from Eric Rolwing that scored Medlock to make it an 8-2 lead for the Squirrels.
"We did some things good today," said Minner. "That's what we've set out to do. This is our 27th win and we're doing more good things than we are bad things and that's the difference between now and at the beginning of the year."
Now the Squirrels will face the winner of Kansas/Nebraska today at 2 p.m. at Hillhouse Park for the chance at a World Series title. Minner said he hopes the hometown crowd will show up for one of the biggest games in Charleston sports history to root on the Squirrels.
"I just hope that the community will show up and support us," Minner said. "We feed off of they're energy and excitement and I would love for them to be there during the game. Hopefully, we can give them something to cheer about."