Elijah Dunn had done his homework.

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania sophomore right fielder came to the plate in the top of the first inning of Wednesday afternoon’s NCAA Division II College World Series elimination game to face Point Loma pitcher Ray Cebulski knowing what to expect.

“We did the scouting report on this dude, and we know that he was really fastball heavy,” said Dunn, a Norwin graduate. “So, I was like, ‘I’m just going to look for my pitch.’ He made a mistake middle in, and I just did what I needed to do.”

Dunn drove in teammate Harrison Pontoli, a Beaver product, with an RBI single to left field and Crimson Hawks pitcher Jake Black dominated with eight scoreless innings, as No. 5 seed IUP defeated No. 4 Point Loma, 1-0, to advance to the College World Series semifinals.

“We’re just a really gritty team,” Dunn said. “[Crimson Hawks coach Steve] Kline preached that all year, just to have that fight, have that competitiveness to just go out there and compete.”

IUP (40-17) dropped a tough 2-1 decision Saturday to Point Loma (46-13-1) to open its College World Series run, which set the Crimson Hawks’ course through the elimination bracket at USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C.

Since initially facing the San Diego-based Sea Lions, IUP kept its postseason run alive by upsetting top-seeded Central Missouri, 4-3, Monday.

Dunn said he and his teammates were looking forward to getting a shot at redemption against the team that defeated them several days earlier.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, but we believed in ourselves and we just trusted our ability to do what we needed to do,” he said.

The Crimson Hawks will now turn their attention toward No. 8 seed Angelo State (43-19), which earned victories against Central Missouri and Point Loma to open the College World Series.

Despite entering as the tournament’s lowest seed, the Rams are the defending national champions. First pitch of the national semifinal game between IUP and Angelo State is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.

If the Crimson Hawks are to advance to the College World Series final, they will need to defeat the Rams twice. A second game between the two teams would be played Friday in Cary, if necessary.

“I was really happy with our performance as a team today,” Kline said. “Jake threw the ball unbelievable. He just kept us in the game the whole way through. Elijah came up with a big RBI. It was the only RBI. Their pitcher just dominated a little bit again, threw in some breaking balls. We might not throw as hard, but we throw strikes, and fly balls in a ballpark like this is always a good thing. I feel like I’m at the Polo Grounds.”

Black, a Bethlehem native, settled into quite the pitcher’s duel with Cebulski, a junior who transferred to Point Loma from Division I Long Beach State.

The Crimson Hawks junior right-hander allowed just two hits with one walk and four strikeouts to pick up the mound win and improve to 5-3 on the season. Bryce Devan earned his second save of the College World Series for IUP, allowing just one hit in a scoreless ninth inning.

“I’ve just got to tip my cap to my catcher Davin Landers and my pitching coach Kyle Nicholson for knowing what to do,” said Black, who took a perfect game into the fifth inning when he conceded a single to Point Loma third baseman Bryson Hashimoto. “They have the hard part. I have the easy part just throwing.

“It’s just getting the leadoff guy is the biggest thing,” he added, “because it takes them out of their game.”

Cebulski fell to 6-2 on the season after scattering just six hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts and three walks.

“Exciting baseball game, a lot of action, a lot of really good pitching,” Sea Lions coach Justin James said. “Hats off to Jake Black. He was outstanding today. He held down a very good offense and they played good defense. In both games we played them, they just shoved it and that’s what you need in postseason play. You need pitching to step up and they had that against us, basically, both times. We just really couldn’t get anything going.”

Point Loma had its best opportunity to score against Black in the eighth inning.

With one out, Jack Malone drew a walk for the Sea Lions but was stranded on base when Pontoli later made a diving catch from his second base position on a line drive hit by Joey Nicolai to end the inning.

“Good defense all around,” Dunn said. “I think the big play of the game was Harry, Harrison Pontoli, I think it was the eighth inning when he made that diving catch to really kill their momentum. I think all around we are going to be all right.”

Considering the Crimson Hawks pitching staff has turned in arguably three of the strongest performances of any team at the College World Series, Dunn said IUP will enter its game against Angelo State with plenty of confidence.

“They’re a really solid team,” he said. “They’re coming back to get the title, but if we just stick with our approach, good things will happen.”

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at jsanta@unionprogress.com.

John Santa

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at jsanta@unionprogress.com.