Fueled by Dominant Pitching, Fire Blank Knights to Book Return Trip to NAIA World Series
MACON, Ga.- The Southeastern University baseball team is heading back to Idaho. The top-seeded Fire blanked the second-seeded Middle Georgia State University Knights 3-0 in the championship game to win the NAIA Opening Round Macon Bracket. With the win, SEU earned a return trip to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston.
“We never played our best baseball but good teams find a way to win and I am proud of these guys for battling,” shared head coach Adrian Dinkel. “Hats off to our pitching staff. They were incredible all week and consistently gave us a chance to win games.”
For back-to-back contests in the Opening Round, SEU plated a run in the first inning. Senior second baseman Dominic Anagnos singled home senior outfielder Manuel Mesa to put the Fire ahead 1-0.
On a day where the Fire left 11 men on base, Anagnos battled at the plate, finding a way to get on base and score runs. The Round Rock, Texas native was 2-3 with a hit by pitch and scored two of the three SEU runs.
“I just wanted to stay patient at the plate, wait for pitches, and get on base however I could in a quality at-bat,” stated Anagnos.
The SEU pitching staff continued its Opening Round dominance. Senior left-handed pitcher Austin Covers got the start for the Fire and for the first time since March 18 against Olivet Nazarene, Covers went six innings deep.
After surrendering a pair of baserunners in the top of the first, the Crystal Lake, Ill. native went on to retire eight straight Knights. Covers exited the contest after the top of the sixth, having surrendered just three hits and registered six strikeouts. Covers earned his first win on the mound since March 21 versus Concordia (Mich.).
“I just kept attacking the zone and stayed confident in my pitches. Having great back-up defensively, especially in the middle-infield helped a lot,” remarked Covers.
As a whole in Macon Bracket play, the SEU pitching staff posted an astounding 0.67 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 30 strikeouts, .215 opponent batting average, and surrendered just three extra-base hits in 27 innings pitched.
An RBI-single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth by senior third baseman Ivan Nunez scored Anagnos to put SEU ahead 2-0.
Junior catcher Colton Onstott came through clutch for the Fire in the bottom of the seventh with a pinch-hit RBI single to shortstop that brought Anagnos home, scoring the final Southeastern run of the contest.
Junior right-handed pitcher Jayden Hartle was tasked with finishing the final three frames of the contest and excelled in doing so. Hartle allowed just one hit and struck out four Knights in his first save of the season.
“I started out the season in the bullpen and I really think that helped prepare me for this,” commented Hartle. “I was thinking about going to the World Series during that last out and wanted to get the strikeout and come through for my team.”
Hartle recorded a strikeout as the final out in the contest to send SEU back to Lewiston.
Southeastern awaits to find out its seeding and first round match up in the 2019 Avista-NAIA World Series.