It’s Point Loma Nazarene and Lubbock Christian in the final. Results from Day 5 of the NAIA Baseball National Championship in Lewiston, ID:
Lubbock Christian 14, Oklahoma City 4 (Oklahoma City eliminated)
The Chaparrals got all the runs they needed in the first inning. CF Jaime Armendariz started the game with a walk, moved to second on a balk, to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a ground out. LF Will Stramp hit a home run, and Stars starter Justin Harper walked the next two batters. He was taken out of the game after recording only one out, two runners on base, and the score already 2-0. DH Dan Neumann then hit an RBI double, SS Armando Dominguez hit a two-RBI single, and the score was 5-0 before the Stars got their first turn at bat.
The Chaps ran it to 7-0 in the second on a two-RBI single by 1B Rob Learned. They got a run in the third on a sacrifice fly by RF Tanner Rindels, and another in the fourth on a home run by C Tyler Johnson. They turned it into a blowout with three runs in the sixth when Stramp scored on a ground out, and Dominguez and 2B Bo Merrell hit RBI singles.
Learned finished the game 2-3, Dominguez was 3-5, and Stramp was 3-6. Chaps starter Jakob Cunningham went seven innings, allowed six hits, struck out eight, walked one, and gave up only two unearned runs. Harper got the loss for the Stars. SS Kirk Walker got three of the Stars’ eight hits.
Brent Weaver did not hit a home run during the tournament, and finished the season with 37, one short of the NAIA record held by Beau Mills of Lewis-Clark State, now in the Indians organization.
NAIA press release: Lubbock Christian pounds its way past Oklahoma City 14-4
Point Loma Nazarene 8, Lee 6 (Lee eliminated)
The Sea Lions won their 11th straight with a solo home run by 1B Ian MacMaster in the eighth inning.
This was a very different game from the 2-1 defensive struggle the Sea Lions played against Lubbock Christian the previous night. They got two home runs from ninth-in-the-order C Tim Winslow, and home runs from CF Kurt Steinhauer and SS Tyler Kuehl. They also got a very good performance from starting pitcher Chad Blauer.
Steinhauer opened the scoring with a home run in the top of the first. The Flames answered with a home run in the bottom of the first. Kuehl’s two-run home run came in the top of the second, and LF Elvis Sosa hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second. The pitchers (Matthew Gilson was the starter for the Flames) took over for the next couple of innings.
Winslow’s first home run came in the top of the fifth, giving the Sea Lions a 4-2 lead. They had a chance to do some more damage in the inning. RF Kaohi Downing, who batted after Winslow, got a base hit. He then got caught between first and second on a steal attempt, but outran the infielder with the ball to second base. He went to third on a wild pitch, but was stranded there when Gilson struck out the next two batters, and DH Travis McCleary lined out to third.
The Sea Lions ran their lead to 6-2 in the top of the sixth. A hit batter and a single by 3B Wes Kartch chased Gilson, who was replaced by Pablo Lopez. Lopez struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up an RBI single by 2B Alex Cameron and a sacrifice fly by Winslow.
Then, things got exciting. The Flames loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, on a walk, a double by 1B Chris Warters, and a hit batter. Blauer struck out DH Junior Rodriguez in an 11-pitch at-bat. He struck out the next batter, then got an infield popup to get out of the inning. Blauer was replaced by Kenny Houser in the seventh, and the Flames loaded the bases again. This time, they got a two-RBI double by RF Julian Alvarez, which made the score 6-4. However, the inning ended with a baserunning blunder. The next batter, Rodriguez, hit a ground ball. The runner on third stayed put, and Alvarez went toward third. He was chased to third by an infielder with the ball, and was out when he touched the bag. MacMaster’s home run came in the eighth, and was part of an interesting piece of coaching by Sea Lions coach Joe Schaefer. MacMaster came into the game as a defensive replacement for Steven Winnick at first base in the bottom of the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth, Schaefer used the NAIA’s re-entry rule to put Winnick back in the game. However, he put him in as a pitcher, and he moved Travis McCleary from DH to first base; MacMaster was out of the game, and Winnick was batting for himself, although his turn didn’t come up again.
Winnick was shaky on the mound. He walked a couple of batters and threw a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth, but got out of the inning with a double play and a fly out in foul territory. In the bottom of the ninth, Rodriguez hit a ball to the left field fence with two aboard, but it became an RBI double instead of a three-run home run. Sosa got an RBI on a ground out, but the next batter flied out to end the game.
The win went to Blauer, who recorded nine strikeouts. Winnick got a save, and Gilson got the loss.
NAIA press release: Point Loma Nazarene holds off Lee 8-6 to advance to title contest
Schedule for Thursday, May 28:
7 PM PDT: Point Loma Nazarene vs. Lubbock Christian
If Lubbock Christian wins, they will play one more on Friday.