By Brian Adamowsky, Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series Communications/Sports Information Assistant
LEWISTON, Idaho (Box score) – Faulkner (Ala.) scored six runs in the top of the second inning, opening a gulf that the Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) baseball team couldn’t bridge and helping the Eagles to an 11-4 victory in the championship game of the 2013 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series on Friday night at Harris Field.
Faulkner finishes the 2013 season with a record of 56-11, and will bring the program’s first-ever NAIA baseball championship home to Montgomery, Ala.
The loss ended the Warriors’ season with a 45-15 record, and it was their 22nd appearance in the tournament’s final game. It marked Lewis-Clark State’s sixth time as the national runner-up, and the Warriors got to the championship round as the tournament’s No. 7 seed.
Faulkner jumped on Lewis-Clark State starter Ryan Sells early in the ballgame, touching him for five runs in his only inning of work. Sells, who hadn’t pitched since April 20, was tabbed to start on Friday night because he had the least amount of mileage on his arm of the pitchers Robbins had available.
With one out and runners on second and third in the top of the second, Faulkner’s David Bishop singled down the right field line to drive in the first run of the game. After a bunt single by Charles Berry Hustle Award winner Antonio Kendrick, Sells walked Zak Colby to force in a second run.
It was one of three walks issued by Sells in the game.
A wild pitch plated a third run, and chased Sells from the game after 41 pitches.
Designated hitter Michael Cruz greeted reliever Colton Wright by lashing a single up the middle to plate two more. By the time Wright picked Dauris Holguin off first to end the inning, the damage was done.
“It totally takes the pressure off your team and builds confidence in your pitcher,” said Faulkner coach Patrick McCarthy, who led the Eagles to a national title in his fourth season at the helm.
Johnny Shuttlesworth, who was named the Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series’ Most Valuable Player following the game, made big pitches when he needed to against the Warriors.
Shuttlesworth allowed 14 hits in 7.1 innings of work, but gave up just four earned runs. He struck out two and walked one in a 122-pitch effort.
“Just because a pitcher is allowing a lot of hits doesn’t mean the other team is squaring balls up,” McCarthy said. “Johnny has totally bought into pitching to contact and has a great mindset on the mound.”
The Warriors scored twice in the bottom of the second off Shuttlesworth on a throwing error and an RBI fielder’s choice, but didn’t crack the scoreboard again until they chased him with two runs in the top of the eighth.
LaBradford Griffis worked the final 1.2 innings, holding the Warriors hitless to preserve Shuttlesworth’s 16th win of the season against just one defeat.
Kyle Knigge went 4-for-4 and scored a run for the Warriors, and fellow All-Tournament Team selection Jake Shirley tacked on three hits.
Bishop, Cruz, first baseman Cayleb Coker and pitcher Julian Esquibel joined Shuttlesworth as Faulkner’s representatives on the All-Tournament Team.
The 57th annual Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by Lewis-Clark State College. For more information on the World Series, click here.