YOTES WIN!!! ON TO NAIA WORLD SERIES
Tanner Hodges eluded the tag of catcher Matt Page to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting The College of Idaho to a 7-6 victory over Azusa Pacific in the championship game of the NAIA Baseball Championships Opening Round site in Azusa, Calif.
With the win, the Coyotes (41-19) earn an automatic berth into the 10-team AVISTA-NAIA World Series, to be played at Harris Field in Lewiston, May 25-June 1. It is the fifth time that the Yotes have advanced to the World Series, placing third in 2002, second in 1999, and winning the 1998 NAIA National Championship. The C of I will open World Series play on May 25 with a 9 a.m. (PT) game against Point Park (Pa.).
The No. 4 ranked Cougars (47-12) trailed 6-4 in the ninth, but took advantage of a C of I error to tie the score. APU had runners at second and third, with slugger Jordan Leyland lining a two-run single down the left field line to deadlock the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Hodges singled with one out and Jeffrey Harris moved him to third with a base hit. APU brought in reliever Alan Garcia and brought in a fifth infielder, however, Tyler Andazola hit a 0-2 pitch to the right side – first-baseman Leyland knocked the ball down, but his throw home was late.
Todd Griffiths, pitching on two days rest, went eight-plus innings, allowing just three earned runs, in a no-decision for the Yotes. Taylor Nicholson got out of trouble in the ninth, picking up his team-leading ninth victory.
The C of I took a 1-0 lead in the first, as Zach Fabricius singled and scored on a Hodges RBI base hit. APU took a 2-1 lead in the third on a two-run Johnathan Erb home run, but the Yotes came back to score four in the bottom of the inning. Singles by Izaac Garsez, Jarel Lewis, and Hodges loaded the bases, with Harris tying the score with a base hit. Andazola gave the Yotes the lead with an RBI fielders’ choice, with Brett Ward making it 4-2 with an RBI single and Andrew Sewell delivered a sacrifice fly.
The Cougars clawed back, scoring a run in the fourth on a C of I error, adding an RBI single by J.C. Aguayo in the fifth to make it 5-4 – stranding the bases loaded. Andazola made it a two-run game in the fifth, hitting a leadoff homer for The C of I. Griffiths retired 10 straight batters until APU’s rally in the ninth.
Hodges led the 11-hit attack with a 3-for-4 morning, with Lewis and Harris each going 2-for-5. Leyland and Erb each had two hits and two RBI for the Cougars in the loss.
The C of I joins Louisiana State-Shreveport, Lee (Tenn.), Oklahoma City, Embry-Riddle (Fla.), Tennessee Wesleyan, Lewis-Clark State, Point Park (Pa.), South Carolina-Beaufort, and Rogers State (Okla.) in the World Series.