The No. 17 Midwestern State Mustangs had their nine-match winning streak come to an end on Thursday in the national quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Championships as No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic beat MSU 5-0.
Midwestern State ended its season at 20-6 overall, while the defending NCAA II Champion Pirates advanced to the national semifinals with a 26-1 record.
"We played hard today," said MSU coach Scott Linn. "They (AASU) were a better team today."
The Mustangs were most competitive in doubles action, but the Pirates pulled through for a 3-0 lead.
"We knew that the key was doubles," said Linn. "We had our opportunities to win."
At No. 1, MSU's ninth-ranked team of Luke Joyce and Colby Meeks fell behind 7-2 to the top-ranked team in Division II in Armstrong's Daniel Regan and Georgi Rumenov, but won three straight games before falling 8-5.
The most exciting and heartbreaking match came at No. 2 doubles, where MSU's Austin Crawford and Kyle Davidson held a match point against fifth-ranked Sven Lalic and Pedro Scocuglia. But the Armstrong duo fought off the break, then came back to beat the Mustangs duo 7-4 in a tiebreak for the 9-8 win.
Tomas Grejtak and Zack Santagate, playing at No. 3 for MSU, fell to Jaan Kononov and Matus Mydla 8-1.
Armstrong Atlantic, that sported top 30 singles players at five of the six positions, dominated the singles action.
AASU's Pablo Gor beat Crawford 6-1, 6-1 at No. 6 to make it 4-0, and the nation's No. 1 player in Rumenov won at No. 2 over Davidson 6-0, 6-2.
The other four singles matches were left unfinished when play stopped.
No. 5 Mydla led No. 43 Joyce of MSU 6-1, 4-2 at No. 1 singles, while No. 11 Regan was ahead of Meeks 6-0, 5-4 at No. 3. No. 16 Lalic held a 6-3, 5-0 advantage at No. 4 over MSU's Kacper Boborykin.
The closest singles play came at No. 5 singles, where Mustangs freshman Franko Siljeg took No. 29 Scocuglia deep in the first set before falling 7-5 and was tied 1-1 in the second when the match ended.
"We believe we're a good team and we expected to win," said Linn. "That's what made it hurt. But you've got to put yourself in a position to win in order to grow and I believe that's what we did."
Linn also praised the play and the leadership of his program's seniors, Joyce and Meeks.
"We wouldn't have gotten to the Elite Eight without our seniors. A program doesn't move forward without great leadership and the seniors gave that to us."
The run to the national quarterfinals is the deepest in the tournament MSU has advanced, matching the run of the 2006 squad.
Midwestern State begins its postseason quest in the NCAA Division II South Central Region tournament Friday afternoon against No. 25 St. Mary's (Texas) at Pioneer Field in Denton. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.
All games of the South Central Region 1 tournament will be broadcasted live via Web streaming courtesy of TWU athletics. Fans can also follow the games via StatBroadcast.
All-tournament passes are available for the cost of $20 for adults (ages 18-54), $10 for students (ages 3-17) and seniors (ages 55 and up) and free for children (2 and under).
Single-day tickets are available for $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and free for children. All-tournament passes will be sold on the first day of the tournament while other tickets go on sale 90 minutes prior to the first game on each day.
The South Central Regional #1 is a four-team, double elimination bracket set to be played May 10-12 at Pioneer Field in Denton.
The winner moves on to face the victor of the South Central Region #2 tournament set for this weekend in Canyon in a best-of-3 Super Regional series next weekend at the site of the highest remaining seed.
The winner of the Super Regional advances to the College World Series in Salem, Va. from May 23-27.