LEWISTON, Idaho – Jake Stone’s two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning put Tennessee Wesleyan ahead for good and Taylor Oldham followed with a three-run home run to help power the Bulldogs past Rogers State (Okla.) 10-6 on Friday night for their first Avista NAIA World Series title.
By Bert Sahlberg, World Series Media/Sports Information Assistant Coordinator
Tennessee Wesleyan, the No. 4 seed at the tournament, finishes the season at 53-12. The Bulldogs were making their third straight appearance in the tournament. After going 0-2 the first two years, Tennessee Wesleyan put on an offensive show in rolling to the title in the 10-team double-elimination tournament at Harris Field.
Despite falling behind 6-2 after three innings, the Bulldogs scored three runs in the sixth and five more in the eighth to claim the win. Tennessee Wesleyan relief pitchers Corey Rhoney and Corey Collins also held the Hillcats on three hits over the final 6.1 innings.
Rogers State was making its first appearance in the Series and finishes the season at 49-16. The Hillcats were the No. 9 seed in the tournament.
Rogers State was four outs away from claiming the title with a 6-5 lead when the Bulldogs broke loose with their big inning. A single and an error put runners on first and second with one out when Anthony Boix hit into a fielder’s choice, which forced the baserunner out at second. A walk loaded the bases and Stone followed with his two-run single to right to put Tennessee Wesleyan ahead 7-6.
Tyler Gardner was then called on to pitch for Rogers State but Oldham took his second pitch and parked it over the fence in left-center field for his 22nd home run of the season. It was the Bulldogs’ third home run of the game and World Series record 17th of the tournament. The previous team HR record was 16 set by both Lewis-Clark State in 1985 and tied by Grand Canyon in 1987.
Tennessee Wesleyan finished the tournament averaging 11.3 runs per game and a .325 batting average, both easily tops in the Series.
Rogers State, however, was the first one out of the gate on Friday. The Hillcats put up three runs in the first on Colin Campbell’s RBI sacrifice fly and Cody Campbell’s RBI double. The third run came in on Cade McKewon’s RBI ground out.
Tennessee Wesleyan appeared to tie the game in the bottom of the first but instead had to settle for two runs. After a pair of single, Oldham hit a shot to left field that TV replays showed clearly hit the second row of signs for an apparent home run. The left-field umpire, however, ruled the ball hit the lower level of signs and Oldham was held to a two-run double.
Rogers State made it 6-2 in the third when a single and a walk set up a two-run double by Randy Ramirez. Brandon Bargas later scored Ramirez on an RBI sacrifice fly.
The score stood until the bottom of the sixth when tournament MVP Jordan Guida led off with a home run and Drew Levi followed with a solo home run. Guida set a Series record with seven home runs and also drove in a tournament-high 14 runs and scored 11 times. Guida entered the tournament with just five home runs on the season.
Boix added an RBI groundout in the inning to cut the lead to 6-5.
Oldham finished 2-for-5 with five RBI, while Stone went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Thomas Sicking also had two hits for the Bulldogs.
Lance Rymel and Cody Campbell had two hits apiece for Rogers State, while Ramirez drove in two runs.
Collins, who pitched the final two innings and allowed only one hit, picked up the win to improve to 4-1. Rhoney allowed just two hits and struck out five in his 4.1 innings of work.
Brandon Bargas, who struck out 18 in a 2-1 victory over top-ranked Louisiana Shreveport last Saturday, took the loss when he allowed five runs (one earned) in his 2.2 innings. Bargas finishes 7-4 on the season.
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