Top-Seeded Southeastern in Driver’s Seat After Edging Second-Seeded Tennessee Wesleyan
KINGSPORT, Tenn. – In a complete team effort, the top-seeded Southeastern University baseball team positioned themselves well in the NAIA Opening Round Kingsport Bracket. The Fire defeated the second-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan University Bulldogs 5-2 to advance to the championship game.
After falling behind 4-0 in yesterday’s contest, the Fire reversed their fortunes by building a 4-0 advantage over Tennessee Wesleyan.
SEU got on the board in the top of the second after junior utility man Dan Valerio led off the inning with a double to deep left. Later in the frame, junior third baseman Keiner Colmenarez brought Valerio home on a sacrifice fly to left.
The Fire grew their advantage in the top of the fourth. Once again, Valerio led off the frame with a double, this one to left-center. The Tinton Falls, N.J. native finished the contest with three doubles total.
A misplayed grounder by the TWC shortstop allowed Valerio to cross the plate and Torrence Sumerlin to get aboard. In the next at-bat, Colmenarez golfed a two-run shot that cleared the right field fence to put SEU up 4-0. The home run was his first in 105 at-bats.
Colmenarez turned in a three-RBI day versus his former team in Tennessee Wesleyan.
“I was just seeing the fastball well today. In my second at-bat he threw me the fastball right down the middle and I made contact on it quickly. I was feeling pretty good at the plate today,” remarked Colmenarez.
Junior southpaw Jonathan Bermudez established an early rhythm for the Fire, working ahead in most counts to surrender just one base hit through his first three innings of work.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs answered the Fire with a two-run homer to center to cut the Fire lead down to 4-2.
Bermudez settled back in after surrendering the long ball, tossing 4.1 frames of shutout baseball to finish his outing. The Coama, Puerto Rico native retired eight of the last nine Bulldogs he faced.
“In that inning, I missed my spots. The guys in the dugout told me it’s only two runs and they had my back so that helped me just stay mentally focused till the end,” shared Bermudez.
With the win, Bermudez tied the single-season program record for wins at (13).
In the bottom of the seventh, junior outfielder Marvin Malone made a spectacular diving catch in deep right to end the inning.
The Fire added an insurance run in the top of the eighth, when junior outfielder Manuel Mesa lifted one to center that advanced Vince Volpatti across the plate to put SEU ahead 5-2.
Junior right-handed pitcher Heibert Romero locked things down on the back end of the contest. Romero pitched one and one third innings of perfect baseball to close out Tennessee Wesleyan.
The Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela native was aided by more excellent SEU defensive play, including an astounding diving cover by junior infielder Dominic Anagnos to record the second out in the bottom of the ninth. Romero earned his team leading sixth save of the season.
“We’ve got to show up and play the right type of baseball. Those teams’ backs are against the wall and don’t think they’re going to stop fighting. We have to understand that and play the type of game we’re capable of playing,” commented head coach Adrian Dinkel.
The Fire are one win away from clinching the program’s first ever trip to the NAIA World Series. The winner of tonight’s Clarke/Trinity Christian contest will face Tennessee Wesleyan tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. The winner of that contest faces Southeastern at 2:30 p.m.
Be sure to follow @SEUFireBaseball on twitter for all of the latest updates from Kingsport.