Top-Seeded Southeastern Defeats Fifth-Seeded British Columbia in First Opening Round Contest
MACON, Ga. – The Southeastern University baseball team got off to a solid start in their quest for another deep NAIA postseason run. In their first contest in the NAIA Opening Round Macon Bracket, the top-seeded Fire out-dueled the fifth-seeded University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 4-1. Originally scheduled for a 6:00 p.m. first pitch, game time was pushed back to 9:30 p.m. due to issues with the playing surface at Luther Williams Field caused by inclement weather the day prior.
Southeastern was guided by a spectacular performance on the mound by senior left-handed starting pitcher Felix Dieguez. The Tampa native tossed eight innings, allowed zero earned runs, walked just one hitter, and struck out 12. This marked Dieguez’ fourth start of the season with 10 or more punch outs.
“I just wanted to be a leader,” shared Dieguez. “I wanted to go out there and attack every hitter and it every spot. My fastball was on today and I was able to go in and out. I was glad to be able to give my team a chance to compete and win.”
The Fire conceded the opening run of the contest to the Thunderbirds, as an infield error by SEU allowed UBC to cross the plate and take a 1-0 advantage in the top of the third.
SEU evened things up in the bottom of the fourth. Senior third baseman Ivan Nunez crossed the plate on a grounded double play to knot things up 1-1.
An RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of Nunez in the bottom of the sixth brought senior outfielder Manuel Mesa home and gave the Fire a 2-1 lead over the Thunderbirds.
Southeastern acquired some insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, as an RBI single off the bat of senior catcher Willie Estrada scored Mike Taylor Jr. and Abdel Guadalupe, growing the SEU lead to 4-1.
“Felix did a heck of a job keeping us in the game and being locked in on the mound and we hit small ball well for the first time in a while,” commented head coach Adrian Dinkel.
Records were broken in the bottom of the seventh, as Manuel Mesa’s single later in the frame set a new single-season program record for hits at 101.
Senior right-handed closer Heibert Romero came in the top of the ninth to shut the door on UBC. After allowing a Thunderbird to advance into scoring position, Romero picked up a pair of quick outs to cement the SEU victory and earn his sixth save of the season.
Southeastern sets its sights on third-seeded Rio Grande, who defeated second-seeded host school Middle Georgia State 8-4 in their first game. First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.