LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score | Updated Schedule) Pitching and timely defense highlighted game one of the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series, as No. 9 seeded Tabor (Kan.) downed No. 8 Southern Poly (Ga.), 1-0, Friday at Harris Field. The win is the first-ever at the World Series for the Bluejays.
“Always big to get the first win,” said Tabor head coach Mark Standiford. “I felt we were a little tight offensively, however we made the right plays defensively at the right moments, which made the difference in the game. Hopefully, this win will allow us to settle in and continue in the tournament.”
With the win, Tabor (50-11) advances to play No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist (53-7) Saturday at 3 p.m. PDT. Southern Poly (45-18) falls into the elimination bracket and awaits the loser of No. 4 Faulkner (Ala.) and No. 5 Georgetown (Ky.) at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Bluejay starter Junior Mustain earned his career-best 12th victory of the season, scattering five hits while striking out five in 7.1 innings of work. Jean Acevedo closed the door for Tabor, earning his first save of the year, holding the Hornets scoreless over the final 1.2 innings.
Tabor’s only run of the game came in the bottom of the second when Kevin Seeger scored on a Pete Lelich ground ball to the shortstop. Seeger opened the frame with a double down the right field line and advanced to third on a Troy Torres single.
Southern Poly stranded a runner on third base five times in the contest, including once in each of the final three innings. The Hornets, who had been shutout only three previous times, looked poised to break onto the scoreboard in the top of the second with runners on first and third. However, a double play followed by a ground out to second base ended the threat.
Arguably Southern Poly’s best chance to score came when back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth. Nonetheless, it was all for not as Acevedo struck out the next batter looking to work out of the jam.
In total, the Hornets totaled six hits and stranded 11 runners.
Starting pitcher Zach Smith (7-4) received the loss for Southern Poly despite allowing only one run and striking out five in eight innings.
Five different Bluejays combined for the team’s five hits. NAIA batting average leader Kirk Rocha ended the contest 1-for-4 with a single in the bottom of the eighth.
The contest marked the first time since 1963 that the opening game of the World Series ended 1-0.
The Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho). For more information on the 58th annual championship, click here.