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Concordia Wins 2011 Avista-NAIA World Series

June 04, 2011
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LEWISTON, Idaho - (FINAL BRACKET; Box Score) Concordia (Calif.) won the 2011 Avista-NAIA World Series with a 9-3 victory over Lubbock Christian (Texas) at Harris Field on Friday. The ninth-seeded Eagles captured their first-ever National Championship in only their second World Series appearance. They went 5-1 while playing in the 55th annual event and close out their season with a record 43-19. The sixth-seeded Chaps wrap up their season with a record of 50-14 in their 10th World Series appearance.

"It's just an unbelievable feeling right now,” Concordia head baseball coach Mike Grahovac said. “It's been a long year, but this made it all worth it. I can't describe what I'm feeling. It's just unbelievable."

The matchup between sixth-seeded Lubbock Christian and ninth-seeded Concordia marked the highest seeds to play for the title since teams were first seeded at the World Series in 2003. In 2004, fifth-seeded Cumberland (Tenn.) won the National Championship.

"This was a grind because we came in as underdogs,” Concordia senior centerfielder Matt Ivanoff said. “We had a lot of fun and played well. This is such a great feeling."

A lead-off walk to Danny Casey produced the first run of the game, as Concordia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Casey advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Robbie Knowles. Following an Edgar Guillen fly out, Matt Ivanoff stepped in a knocked a single to right field that sent Casey home to score.

The Chaps answered back in the bottom half of the frame. With one out, Ryan Burnaman and Nate Peterson recorded back-to-back singles. Burnaman came in to score on a bobble by the Eagle shortstop, Guillen. The ensuing batter, Karl Seiter, hit a sharp grounder to Guillen, who stepped on second base for the inning’s second out and fired over to first, but Tyler Derby was pulled off the bag and Seiter was safe. In the meantime, Brett Morte raced home to score, giving the Chaps a 2-1 lead.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Robbie Knowles got a hold of a Shane Ingram pitch and drove it deep to left-center field for a bases-clearing triple that gave the Eagles a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning.

Lubbock Christian cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom half of the fourth as senior Austin Stewart tattooed a ball over the centerfield fence. The home run was just his second of the season, but his second of the day for the Chaps.

Four scoreless innings went by before Concordia’s bats erupted for five runs on six hits in the top of the nine frame to take a 9-3 lead. The Eagles sent 11 batters to the plate and featured back-to-back triples by Ivanoff and Konicek. A sac fly by John Hill marked the second out of the inning, but Concordia followed with a double, three consecutive singles and a pair of walks.

Sophomore Blake Harrison (8-1) threw a complete game for the Eagles and allowed just two LCU hits in his last 23 batters faced. He retired 15-straight batters after giving up the home run to Stewart in the fourth inning. Harrison scattered six hits, gave up three runs, two of which were earned, struck out three and walked none.

The loss was charged to Shane Ingram, who threw three innings, giving up three unearned runs and two hits. Starter Cameron Ray lasted 2 2/3 innings before Ingram entered. Four other pitchers appeared for Lubbock Christian: Lucas Whitmore, Tyler Curtis, Ryan Burnaman and Paul Gonzalez.

Eight Eagles collected a hit in the win, with seven driving in at least one run. Multi-hit performances were had by seniors Ivanoff and Ryan Sheeks and junior Konicek. Burnaman was 2-for-4 for the Chaps, with four other batters recording a hit.