For the second night in-a-row, Lewis-Clark State was unfazed by a five-run-or-more deficit late in the game, as the Warriors bats came alive late once again.
A Robert Smith Jr. leadoff double sparked the eighth inning rally that included two hit batters, an error, two singles, two doubles and a sacrifice fly. Julian Ramon recorded the other two-bagger in the frame, marking the junior catcher’s first extra-base hit of the series. The effort put the Warriors up 10-7.
“Our guys, our staff and everybody involved in this program just put so much into it,” Lewis-Clark State head coach Jeremiah Robbins said. “What a reward for a lot of hard work this year, not only on the field but in the cages and in the community. It’s proof that when you really buy into something and invest the time, good things are going to happen.”
“I’m so proud of them,” Robbins said. “They deserve to end the season on their field, dog piling on the field they built. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”
With the win, Lewis-Clark State ends the year with a 46-12 record and improves to 133-44 all-time at the World Series. The title is the first for the Warriors since 2008. Lewis-Clark State is only the fifth team seeded fourth-or-higher to win the national championship since the current seeding format began in 2003.
“It’s an assurance to everybody that the program is still moving forward,” Robbins said. “We’ve knocked on the door a couple of times, but we kicked it through tonight.”
Seth Brown and Max Whitt led the offense for Lewis-Clark State. Brown ended the night 2-for-5 at the dish with two runs scored and two RBI, while Whitt ended the night with a game-high tying three RBI.
Cameron Pongs, who was one of the hero’s in last night’s game, earned the win for Lewis-Clark State. The senior left-hander threw 4.2 innings of one-hit relief. Pongs struck out a season-high six in the game.
“Pongs has had an off-and-on year and for him to come in and seal the deal, it was just gutty,” Robbins said. “That’s just guys buying in and staying with it.”
St. Thomas, which entered the contest as the best offensive club at the World Series, drew first blood with five runs in the bottom of the first. The Bobcats benefited from a pair of wild pitches by the Lewis-Clark State starter and some timely hitting. Jerry Downs and Eric Santamaria both registered RBI ground balls in the inning, while Adam Duarte singled through the left side to score a pair.
Brown extended his RBI streak to five-straight games with a two-out double that plated Raymond Pedrina and cut the St. Thomas lead to 5-1. Brown has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, including nine multi-hit performances.
Bobcat starting pitcher Ben Ancheff kept the Warriors’ hitters off balance through a season-high 4.1 innings of work. The Williamstown, Pa., native rebounded from a tough outing against Vanguard (Calif.) earlier in the World Series to strike out a season-high five batters, but did not receive a decision in the game.
The next three hitters after the departure of Ancheff walked to load the bases for Lewis-Clark State and bring the potential game-tying run to the plate. However, it would go for not as Tyeler Checkley worked out of the jam by inducing a pair of fly outs.
Eric Santamaria pushed St. Thomas’ lead to 7-1 with a two-run home run – his first of the World Series and fourth on the year – in the bottom of the fifth.
Lewis-Clark State answered with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth to make it a four-run game again, 7-4. Michael Sexton and Cabe Reiten were responsible for the runs, as each play recorded RBI doubles.
St. Thomas, which in its game against Vanguard set the NAIA record to combined pitchers used, emptied the bullpen once again. The Bobcats used seven hurlers in the contest. Santamaria, who was making his first appearance of the season, took the loss to fall to 0-1. He allow four runs and two hits.
Paul Chacin and Santamaria were the only Bobcats with two-or-more hits in the game. Santamaria led the team with three RBI.
St. Thomas, which was appearing in the finals for the first time in program history, ends the year with a 48-18 record. The Bobcats are now 7-10.
The World Series concluded with an awards ceremony that included the All-World Series team, consisting of 16 individuals, the Charles Berry Hustle Award, the World Series Gold Glove Award and the Most Valuable Player Award. Honorees listed below.
The Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). For more information on the 59th annual event, click HERE.
2015 Avista-NAIA Baseball All-World Series Team
1B – Hunter Bruehl, Embry-Riddle (Fla.)
2B – Max Whitt, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
3B – Enderson Velasquez, Embry-Riddle (Fla.)
SS – Cesar Ramirez, St. Thomas (Fla.)
INF – Eric Santamaria, St. Thomas (Fla.)
C – Matt Molbery, Tabor (Kan.)
C – Steven Fischer, St. Thomas (Fla.)
OF – Chris Madera, Faulkner (Ala.)
OF – Jerry Downs, St. Thomas (Fla.)
OF – Seth Brown, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
OF – John Doering, Concordia (Calif.)
DH – Randy Young, Faulkner (Ala.)
P – Beau Kerns, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
P – Stetson Nelson, Embry-Riddle (Fla.)
P – Chris Rodriguez, St. Thomas (Fla.)
P – Russell Longworth, Tabor (Kan.)
Charles Berry Hustle Award: David Stone, Vanguard (Calif.)
World Series Gold Glove Award: Chris Madera, Faulkner (Ala.)
World Series Most Valuable Player: Beau Kerns, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)