LEWISTON, Idaho- The ninth-seeded Rogers State baseball team used a dramatic ninth inning rally to defeat No. 8 South Carolina Beaufort, 3-2, in the opening round at the Avista-NAIA World Series on Friday afternoon at Harris Field on the campus of Lewis-Clark State.
After battling to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the eighth, the Hillcats gave up the go-ahead run in the bottom of the frame and had their backs against the wall in the top of the ninth. Seniors Randy Ramirez and Cade McKewon tallied consecutive singles to start the inning and Keith Poverud followed with a single to left-center to load the bases with no outs. Baker belted a one-out two RBI single to right field to give the Hillcats the 3-2 lead.
The Diamond Cats clung to the one run lead in the bottom of the inning to register their first World Series victory.
The Sand Sharks took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back two out hits. Dylan Nasiatka belted the ball off the wall in center field for a triple and Ty Main followed with a RBI double down the left field line.
The Hillcats threatened in the third as McKewon registered RSU's first hit of the game with a first pitch leadoff single to shallow center field. Brandon Bargas hit a one-out single to right field and Hector Rivera loaded the bases with two outs. Sand Sharks pitcher Michael Heesch got out of the jam, striking out Colton Campbell to end the inning.
Bargas led off the eighth with a full count single to center field and reached third as Baker followed with a single up the middle. Bargas scored on a first pitch single down the right field line by Hector Rivera. Colton Campbell followed with a single to right field and Baker was waved home from second base but he was tagged out by the Sand Sharks catcher for the first out of the inning. RSU left runners stranded at second and third as they retired the next two batters to end the inning tied 1-1.
USCB answered in the bottom half of the frame and regained the lead with a sacrifice fly to center field by Main.
Spainhoward (10-2) registered the complete-game victory on the mound for RSU. The junior south paw allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits with four strikeouts. With the win, he broke the RSU single-season wins record with 10 victories on the year.
The Hillcat offense was led by McKewon and Baker with three hits apiece.
Michael Heesch (9-3) was tagged with the loss on the mound as he tossed 8.1 innings, allowing three runs on 13 hits with 10 strikeouts.
Main was the lone Sand Shark with multiple hits as he went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Rogers State (46-14) will return to the diamond on Saturday as the Cats take on top ranked and top seeded LSU-Shreveport at 8:30 p.m. CST. Live audio will be provided on the Hillcat Network at www.rsuhillcats.com/live.
For more information on RSU Baseball visit www.rsuhillcats.com.