Westmont 7, Lewis-Clark State 6: Westmont wins NAIA championship
Result of the final day of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID, June 2.
Westmont 7, Lewis-Clark State 6
Parker O’Neil drew a bases-loaded walk with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the game and Westmont’s first-ever national championship.
The decisive inning started with a ground out. Robbie Haw reached first on a throwing error, then went to second on a ground out. L-C State’s pitcher, Drake George, who entered the game in the third inning, was relieved by Greg Blackman. Ryan DeSaegher was intentionally walked, and replaced by a pinch runner, Paul Mezurashi. With Bryce McFeely at the plate, Haw and Mezcurashi executed a perfect double steal. McFeely drew a walk to load the bases, then O’Neil drew the walk for the winning run.
L-C State opened the scoring with a solo home run by Isaiah Thomas in the top of the second inning. Westmont answered with a two-RBI single by Liam Critchett. (Both teams have the Warriors nickname.) DeSaegher hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third, reached on a fielding error to bring in a run in the bottom of the fourth, and Westmont led 5-1.
L-C State got back in it with a three-run home run by Charlie Updegrave in the top of the fifth. Westmont added a run in the bottom of the sixth on a very unusual play. McFeely hit what should have been an inning-ending ground out to George on the mound. George probably could have just run the ball to first for
NAIA Baseball National Championship, semifinals
Results of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID for May 31.
Lewis-Clark State 15, William Carey 6 (William Carey eliminated)
The Warrriors lit up a depleted Crusader pitching staff with six home runs. The barrage started with a three-run home run by Nick Seamons in the bottom of the second inning, chasing Crusader starter Andrew Shirah. The Warriors led 6-0 after two innings. The Crusaders got back into it with six runs in the top of the fourth inning, starting with a two-RBI triple by Rigoberto Hernandez. Hernandez scored on a ground out by Caleb Laird. Bobby Lada hit a three-run home run to tie the game 6-6, but the Crusaders didn’t score again the rest of the way. Isaiah Thomas hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth. Seamons hit his second home run of the game, for two runs, in the bottom of the fifth.
At that point, the Warriors led 9-6, and the game was still within reach for the Crusaders. However, the Warriors started the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run by Jakob Marquez. After an out on a popup, Carter Booth hit a home run. That chased John Snyder, who entered the game in the second inning. His replacement, Caeleb Williams, faced three batters, walked two of them. Williams was replaced by Connor Adams, and he was greeted with a three-run home run by Thomas, his second of the game. Dominic Signorelli hit a single, and scored on a double by Pu’ukani De Sa to complete the scoring. Every one of the Warriors’ starting position players got a hit.
NAIA Baseball National Championship, fourth day
Results of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID for May 30.
Lewis-Clark State 8, Taylor 3 (Taylor eliminated)
The Warriors took at 5-2 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a grand slam home run by Dominic Signorelli. After that, Greg Blackman and Alec Holmes held the Trojans to two hits over the next seven innings. Blackman entered the game in the top of the first inning after Warrior starter Dallas McGill gave up a two-run home run by T.J. Bass. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed one run (unearned) on two hits, walked five, and struck out five. Holmes came in in the sixth inning and went the rest of the way. He didn’t allow a hit until two out in the top of the ninth. He struck out two, and walked one.
The rest of the Warriors’ runs all came on sacrifice flies, by Isaiah Thomas in the fifth inning, and Nick Seamons in the sixth and eighth innings. Thomas finished 2-for-3 with a double. Bass finished 2-for-5. Kaleb Kolpien finished 2-for-3, and drew a walk to force in only other Trojan run. Trojan starter Gabel Pentecost got the loss.
NAIA Baseball National Championship, third day
Results of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID for May 29.
Indiana Wesleyan 11, Georgia Gwinnett 10 (Georgia Gwinnett eliminated)
The Wildcats got ten runs in the first two innings, and they needed every one of them, plus one more that they added in the bottom of the eighth.
The Wildcats’ barrage was led by three-run home runs by Ty Mathews and Jeff Morton in the second inning. However, the Grizzlies got back into the game with five runs in the top of the fourth, led by a three-run home run by Braxton Meguilar, and a solo home run by Caden Smith. Ajay Szcepkowski added another solo home run in the fifth, and the Wildcats’ lead was cut to 10-6. The Grizzlies made it a one-run game by scoring three runs in the top of the eighth on an RBI double by Cohen Wilbanks, an RBI single by Devin Warner, and a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Brody Parkerson. However, in the bottom of the eighth, the Bobcats got what turned out to be a crucial insurance run. The Grizzlies got within one run again with Szcepkowski’s second home run of the game in the top of the ninth, but the game ended with a double play.
NAIA Baseball National Championship preview
Schedule for the first two days of the 66th NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 26-June 2, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
Friday, 8:35 AM: #10 seed MidAmerica Nazarene (34-26) vs. #7 Taylor (40-15)
MidAmerica Nazarene (Olathe, KS) is making their second appearance in the Baseball National Championship. They went 0-2 last year. They were runners-up in the Heart of America Conference tournament. Twitter: @mnusports
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #67 in Boyd Nation's Iterative Strength Rating (ISR). Strength of Schedule: #65
Quality wins: 3-2 vs. Central Methodist, Morningside, 2-1 vs. LSU-Shreveport
Top position players: 1B/RHP Noah Castillo (.357, 11 HR, 45 RBI, and 1-6, 7.45 ERA, 26 K on the mound), SS Brycen Sherwood (.304, 10 HR, 37 RBI), IF Javier Melendez (Salinas, Puerto Rico; .350, 8 HR, 47 RBI), OF Sean Maple (.300, 8 HR, 36 RBI), 3B Dionathan Cornet (San Nicolas, Aruba; .282, 9 HR, 43 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Reece Holland (Moose Jaw, SK; 5-0, 3.52 ERA, 25 K), RHP Zach Trevino (9-2, 4.06 ERA, 98 K), LHP Kristian Hurtado (3-1, 3.58 ERA, 30 K), RHP Tyler Frieders (10-5, 4.85 ERA, 96 K)
Coach: Ryan Thompson, 17th season
Outlook: The Pioneers have improved their pitching since last year, but it might not be enough to come home with a win.
Taylor (Upland, IN) is making their second appearance in the Baseball National Championship; the previous one was in 1969. They won the Crossroads League regular season championship. Twitter: @taylorbaseball
Rankings: #19 in coaches' poll, #27 in ISR. SoS: #64
Quality wins: Benedictine-Mesa, Kansas Wesleyan, 4-0 vs. Indiana Wesleyan
Top position players: RHP/OF Kaleb Kolpien (.431, 6 HR, 51 RBI), C Ben Kalbaugh (.346, 7 HR, 46 RBI), 1B Cade Vander Molen (.305, 13 HR, 58 RBI), C/OF T.J. Bass (.281, 18 HR, 56 RBI). Kolpien's average is the 17th highest in the NAIA.
Top pitchers: RHP Jack Ross (6-0, 2.89 ERA, 51 K, 8 saves), RHP Matt Dutkowski (7-2, 3.35 ERA, 81 K), RHP Alec Holcomb (6-2, 4.64 ERA, 66 K), RHP Dalton Swinehart (4-1, 5.45 ERA, 72 K)
Coach: Kyle Gould, 19th season
Outlook: The Trojans should win a game.
2022 MLB draft
Interview with Sean Heppner, British Columbia Thunderbirds and Kamloops NorthPaws
Sean Heppner is right-hand pitcher headed for his second season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. He is currently playing for the Kamloops NorthPaws, a team playing its inaugural season in the West Coast League.
Bob Broughton, courtesyrunner.com: The British Columbia Thunderbirds made a remarkable turnaround during the last five weeks of the 2022 season, getting four quality wins at the Opening Round Tournament at Lewis-Clark State, and giving Lewis-Clark State, who eventually finished in second place nationally in the NAIA, a real scare. What explanation do you have for the turnaround?
Sean Heppner, Kamloops NorthPaws: We were a really young team. I think over half our team had never played a college baseball game before.
BB: That includes you?
SH: Yeah, including myself. So, just getting to know yourself, as you play the season, you get more comfortable and know which situations you're going to go into and getting the experience. Then, it just kind of all came together and we all kind of felt comfortable pitching and hitting and doing what we needed to to play. And we were having so much fun, which we weren't having for a long time.
BB: How many of those guys are going to be back next year?
SH: We actually only lost three guys.
BB: And you're coming back?
Kamloops NorthPaws 8, Edmonton Riverhawks 7
LF Jared Sucro (Cairn), a Kamloops native, hit an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to give the Kamloops NorthPaws an 8-7 win over the Edmonton Riverhawks in the first-ever game for both West Coast League teams.
SS Mike Fitzsimmons (British Columbia) led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, then stole second base. CF Ty Siffermann (Grand Canyon) struck out. Fitzsimmons moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on the hit by Sucro.
Nolan Austin (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M) had a big night for the NorthPaws. He moved from third base to the mound at the start of the eighth inning, replacing another pitcher who was ruled ineligible because he wasn’t listed on the official roster. He got the win, retired six of the seven batters he faced, struck out one, and walked one. He also went 3-for-4 with a double and a walk at the plate.
Another NorthPaw with a big night was Tyrelle Chadwick (Illinois State). He was the starting pitcher. He was relieved after only 2 1/3 innings. He allowed only one hit, but walked six batters, and threw a wild pitch. However, he remained in the game as the designated hitter, then replaced Austin at third base. He finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
The NorthPaws outhit the Riverhawks 11 to five, but the Riverhawks led most of the game, due not only to the large number of walks (relievers RHP Sean Heppner [British Columbia] and RHP Carter Harbut [Fraser Valley] walked three and four, respectively), but also an expensive error and a passed ball. The Riverhawks took the early lead on a home run by 3B Brad Jolley (Park-Gilbert) in the top of the second, the first-ever home run for the Riverhawks. The NorthPaws answered with two runs in the bottom of the second, with Chadwick scoring when 2B Angus Stayte (Morehead State) reached on an error, and Austin scoring on a passed ball.
NAIA Baseball National Championship preview
Schedule for the first two days of the 65th NAIA Baseball National Championship, Friday-Saturday, May 27-June 3, Harris Field, Lewiston, ID (all times PDT):
Friday, 8:30 AM: #8 seed Georgia Gwinnett (45-14) vs. #9 MidAmerica Nazarene (39-16)
Georgia Gwinnett (Lawrenceville, GA) is making their fifth trip to Lewiston. They are the defending champions. They won the Continental Athletic Conference tournament. Twitter: @GGC_Baseball
Rankings:#10 in coaches' poll, #30 in Boyd Nation's Iterative Strength Rating. Strength of Schedule: #94 (lowest in tournament)
Quality wins: 3-1 vs. Northwestern Ohio, U. of the Cumberlands, 1-1 vs. Webber International
Top position players: IF Braxton Megular (.394, 50 RBI), 3B Jake Defries (.324, 47 RBI), C Austin Bates (.377, 44 RBI), OF Livingston Morris (.327, 18 HR, 65 RBI), OF Blaze O'Saben (.372, 31 RBI), DH J.D. Stubbs (.340, 55 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Kevin Kyle (6-0, 1.41 ERA, 64 K), LHP Tyler Clayton (5-1, 1.99 ERA, 66 K), RHP Rob Hamby (8-2, 2.75 ERA, 80 K), RHP Gavin Heltemes (7-1, 3.31 ERA, 84 K)
Coach: Jeremy Sheetinger, third season
Outlook: The Grizzlies won't be repeat champions.
MidAmerica Nazarene (Olathe, KS) is making their first appearance in the Baseball National Championship. They finished first on the South Division of the Heart of America Conference. Twitter: @mnusports
Rankings: Unranked in coaches' poll, #15 in ISR. SoS: #28
Quality wins: 4-3 vs. Central Methodist, Freed-Hardeman, 2-0 vs. Oklahoma City
Top position players: OF Josh Torrance (.379, 7 HR, 40 RBI), 1B/RHP Noah Castillo (.375, 7 HR, 46 RBI, and 7-1, 6.71 ERA, 63 K on the mound), SS Brycen Sherwood (.339, 11 HR, 40 RBI), C Joshuan Sandoval (.307, 15 HR, 50 RBI), 3B Dionathan Cornett (.321, 9 HR, 50 RBI)
Top pitchers: RHP Nathan Torres (1-0, 0.74 ERA, 43 K, 14 saves), RHP Zach Trevino (10-3, 3.88 ERA, 108 K), LHP Kristian Hurtado (7-3, 4.61 ERA, 61 K), RHP Eric Navarette (5-5, 5.42 ERA, 80 K)
Coach: Ryan Thompson, 16th season
Outlook: Happy to be here.
2021 MLB draft
Players from NAIA schools taken in the 2021 Major League Baseball draft:
|RHP||Garrett Hawkins||British Columbia||9||280||Padres||story|
|C||Kenny Piper||Columbia C.||18||551||Rays|