Bluejays Rally Past Georgia Gwinnett
LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) A pair of ninth inning runs leads No. 9 Tabor (Kan.) to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory against No. 6 Georgia Gwinnett Saturday at the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series at Harris Field. The Bluejays’ victory is the second all-time for Tabor and teams from the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference at the World Series.
After an inning opening walk, Grant Silva rocketed a ball off the pitcher’s mound and into the right-center field gap for a double, scoring pinch runner Ryan Neufeld from first base. Silva then stole third base on the next pitch, leading to back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases for Kevin Seeger.
Seeger, who stepped to the plate with 2-for-7 in two previous games at the World Series, shot a 2-1 pitch to right field for a sacrifice fly. Georgia Gwinnett right fielder Jake Fields slipped in his throwing motion, allowing Silva to score the game-winner without a play at the plate.
“Simply amazing,” said Tabor head coach Mark Standiford. “Not sure how we won except for the simple fact that we fought to the end. I’m really proud of our guys, especially (Grant) Silva. He came up with a key at-bat, stole third and scored the winning run.”
With the win, Tabor improves to 51-12 on the season and advances to play the loser of No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan and No. 10 Cumberland (Tenn.) at 3 p.m. PDT on Tuesday. Georgia Gwinnett, which entered the contest fresh off its first-ever World Series victory, is eliminated from the championship and closes the season at 53-13. This season marked the first-year of postseason eligibility for the club.
Silva, who had a 13-game hitting streak snapped last Saturday against Oklahoma Baptist, led the Tabor offense with two hits, one RBI, one run scored and one walk. Four other Bluejays combined for Tabor’s other four hits.
Three first-inning singles led to a 1-0 lead for Georgia Gwinnett. Zach Alvord was credited with the RBI in the inning, tying the senior shortstop with Sam Lind of Cumberland (Tenn.) for most RBIs at this year’s World Series with five. It is his 46th of the season.
Georgia Gwinnett starter Adam Clark, who set a new season-high with six strikeouts, cruised until the fifth inning.
Tabor, which entered the day with 85 runs in the fifth frame this season, tagged the junior right-hander for four runs in the inning. The first two Bluejay runs came on a hit-by-pitch and walk, keeping the bases loaded for Gadiel Baez, who took full advantage of a pulled-in infield, shooting a single through the right side to score Shaun Reid from third. A sacrifice fly by Kirk Rocha completed the scoring in the inning, as the Grizzlies closed the inning with a double-play.
Back-to-back doubles by Zach Alvord and Christian Van Camp cut the deficit to 4-2 for Georgia Gwinnett in the top of the sixth, before an errant throw on a Kyle Norton sacrifice bunt plated a third run for the Grizzlies. Georgia Gwinnett tied the game 4-4 one batter later on a squeeze bunt.
The Grizzlies took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth when senior catcher John Fidanza hit a solo home run off Tabor relief pitcher Alex Mann. The blast is the second of the season for Fidanza and only the fourth allowed by Mann in 20 appearances.
Georgia Gwinnett threw five pitchers in the ballgame with closer Zeke McGranahan taking to loss to fall to 3-3 on the season.
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.