By Brian Adamowsky, Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series Media Staff
LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) Richie Seaton singled to center field to drive in Josciel Veras with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to send No. 10 Cumberland (Tenn.) to a wild 8-7 victory over third-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan to close Memorial Day’s action at the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series at Harris Field.
Cumberland’s Clint Meadows (8-4) earned the victory and tied a Baseball World Series record by pitching 10 innings of relief, entering the game with no outs in the first inning after Bulldogs starter Kevin P. Greene allowed three runs.
With the victory, Cumberland (47-19) advances to face top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a matchup of the only two unbeaten squads remaining in the tournament.
Oklahoma Wesleyan (56-7) will face No. 9 Tabor at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in an elimination game.
“These guys never quit. We’ve seen that the last three weeks,” Cumberland coach Woody Hunt said. “We’re not the most talented team, but we’ve got a lot of heart and a lot of grit.”
After the Eagles put up those three runs in the first inning, Cumberland responded with five of its own in the bottom of the third, with a two-run single by Veras counting as the big blow.
Oklahoma Wesleyan answered right back in the following inning, scoring four runs on an RBI single by Jeff Butler and a mammoth three-run home run to straightaway center field off the bat of José Ruiz, his 14th homer of the season.
Ruiz’s blast made the score 7-5 in favor of the Eagles, but Oklahoma Wesleyan wouldn’t score again off Meadows, who threw 133 pitches on the night.
“We had to go to Clint early, and it wasn’t his best performance in the last two or three weeks, but it was a good one. He pitched out of some tough jams,” Hunt said.
Cumberland cut Oklahoma Wesleyan’s lead to one on an RBI single by catcher Bryan Haney in the sixth inning and tied the game at seven in the eighth. Justin Byrd lashed a one-out triple to left-center field and scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Anderson.
Oklahoma Wesleyan seemed to be on the verge of retaking the lead in the top of the ninth, after Butler drew a one-out walk to bring Ruiz to the plate. He flared a single to right field that landed just inside the foul line in front of Seaton.
Ruiz rounded first but passed Butler in between first and second, and was called out. Butler raced back to first base but Anderson caught him from behind for the final out on a bizarre play.
“It was a game-saving double play, but an unusual play, maybe one of the most unusual I’ve ever seen,” said Hunt, who is in his 33rd season as Cumberland’s head coach.
After Cumberland failed to score in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extra innings, the first such game in this year’s tournament, Meadows set the Eagles down in order in the top of the 10th, setting the stage for Seaton’s heroics.
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.