LEWISTON, Idaho – Falling into an early 6-0 hole, the Hawks clawed their way back to make it a two-run game with an inning to go against Georgia-Gwinnett in an elimination game at the NAIA World Series.
SDC led off with a walk in the top of the ninth but their comeback bid fell short as the Hawks lost a 6-4 decision to the Grizzlies, officially ending their season Saturday.
With the loss, SDC falls to 42-20 after a record-breaking year for the team. Georgia-Gwinnett improves to 53-12 and will play the loser of No. 9 seed Tabor (Kan.) and No. 1 seed Oklahoma Baptist.
Joey Aquino was tagged with the loss after throwing five innings. He allowed seven hits, six runs, five earned, and struck out three. Mark Vasquez pitched three innings of relief of three hit ball with two walks and four strikeouts.
Alex Roberts was the winning pitcher for the Grizzlies as he tossed 7.1 innings allowing four runs on four hits. Roberts struck out six for his ninth win of the season. Zeke McGranahan earned his seventh save of the season in 1.2 innings of relief.
After a scoreless first frame, Georgia-Gwinnett's Ty Abbott hit a 0-1 pitch over the right-center fence to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead. They added another run in the inning to take a 2-0 lead. The Grizzlies concluded their scoring in the game in a big way. With the basses full of Grizzlies and two outs, Zach Alvord took the first pitch he saw from Aquino in the at bat and placed it over the left field fence for a grand slam. Aquino retired the next batter to get out of the inning but the damage was already done.
The Hawks cut the 6-0 deficit in half in the top of the sixth. Luke Bando hit a leadoff single to get things going for SDC. Cade Gotta then doubled down the left field line as Bando advanced to third. Jeff Lusardi grounded out to short but Bando scored from third for the first run. Chad Erickson was then hit by a pitch to give the Hawks runners on first and second. Gotta and Erickson each stole a base to advance 90 feet for Gilbert Viera. A wild pitch scored Gotta from third and Erickson was brought home via a Viera groundout as the Hawks then trailed 6-3.
The Hawks tallied another run in the eighth.
Cade Gotta hit his second double of the game with one out. Erickson brought him home with a single through the left side. But that's all the runs SDC would score as the Hawks concluded their World Series run.
This team will still go down in the SDC record books. The 42 games won is the most in school history. Their other first time accomplishments include a GSAC regular season title, an NAIA Opening Round title, and the first ever Hawks baseball team to reach the NAIA World Series.