LEWISTON, Idaho - (Box Score) No. 9 Rogers State center fielder Eric Baker finished with three hits, including a pair of RBI doubles, to propel the Hillcats to a 7-5 come from behind victory against No. 2 Lee (Tenn.) in Avista-NAIA World Series action on Wednesday night at Harris Field in Lewiston, Idaho.
With the win, Rogers State (49-15), who is making its first appearance in the World Series, advances to the championship final. The Hillcats opponent will be determined by the winner of No. 4 Tennessee Wesleyan and No. 1 LSU Shreveport (La.). If Tennessee Wesleyan wins, Rogers State will face off against the Bulldogs at 6:35 p.m. PDT on Thursday. If LSU Shreveport wins, Rogers State will receive a bye on Thursday and play the winner between Tennessee Wesleyan and the Pilots at 6:35 p.m. on Friday. Lee concludes its season with a 56-11-1 overall record and 2-2 mark in the World Series.
Casey Cassity (4-1) earned the victory for the Hillcats. He held the Flames scoreless over six innings in relief of starter Brandon Bargas. Bargas, who posted a series-high 18 strikeouts in his first appearance in Lewiston, tossed only three innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
Rogers State wasted little time in jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Colton Campbell that scored Baker, who led off the inning with a triple.
However, the Flames answered in the ensuing inning by scoring five runs on five hits, sparked by a solo home run by Corey Davis and a two-run blast by Trevor Burgess. The outburst made it a 5-1 advantage for Lee.
Rogers State, however, rallied back with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 5-3. Cade McKewon opened the inning with a single and Keith Poverud walked before Baker drove both runners home with a two-RBI double to deep left-center field.
The Hillcats completed the rally with four additional runs in the bottom of the seventh to take a 7-5 lead with two innings left. Back-to-back singles set the table to Baker, who launched his second two-RBI double of the contest. Two batters later, Campbell drove in Baker for a second time and was then brought home on a single by Lance Rymel.
Cassity retired the Flames in order in the top of the eighth and closed the door on Lee's season in the ninth, inducing three-straight fly outs following a leadoff walk.
In addition to Baker, Campbell finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one run scored, while Poverud was 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs.
Matt Passauer (2-1) took the loss for Lee (Tenn.). Passauer allowed two runs on two hits in relief of starter Jose Samayoa. Samayoa surrendered five runs on seven hits in the loss.
Davis paced the Flame offense, ending the contest 3-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.