MACON, Ga. – The 4th-seeded Forester baseball team suffered a 7-5 loss to 5th-seeded British Columbia (30-20) Monday afternoon of the 2019 NAIA National Championship Opening Round at Luther Williams Field in Macon, Ga. The loss sends HU to the consolation bracket where they will face the loser of Rio Grande/Middle Georgia State tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m.
Huntington rallied back from a 3-0 deficit to take a 4-3 lead in the fifth only to watch it slip away in the seventh on the way to their 15th loss of the year.
The Thunderbirds relied on the long ball early on. Mike Fitzsimmons was the first of three Birds to log a solo blast. The rookie shortstop was batter #1 of the day and didn’t disappoint by sending his fifth pitch over the left field fence.
Just like Fitzsimmons, Noah Or smacked one over the left field fence on a 3-1 count in the top of the third for a UBC 2-0 advantage. Jordan Dray got in on the homerun festivities in the fourth when he launched one beyond the 392-foot center field fence to extend his team’s lead to 3-0.
Things looked bleak for Huntington up to that point as they managed just one hit through the first four frames but the tides quickly turned in the fifth. After Ian McCutcheon led off with a single into center and Adrian Perez was hit by a pitch, pinch hitter Jarrett Gray laid down a routine sacrifice bunt that turned out to be anything but routine. Two UBC overthrows on the play, one to first and another to third, allowed all three Foresters to scamper home.
Just like that things were knotted up at 3s but the Foresters weren’t done quite yet. Two outs later, Austin Pritchard tattooed a ball over the right field fence to give his team their first lead, 4-3, of the afternoon. It was Pritchard’s fourth dinger and 25th RBI of the season.
The lead stuck until the seventh when UBC pieced together a walk, sac bunt and RBI-double to deadlock things at 4-4. Not only did it force the game’s second tie, it also forced the Foresters to make a pitching change. Junior Mason Shinabery tossed the first 6.1 innings for the no-decision before his replacement Caleb Landrum took over the mound with one out and a runner on.
It didn’t slow down the Thunderbirds as they pounded out three consecutive hits to the tune of two more runs to jump back on top 6-4. Never down for the count, HU fired right back to load the bases in their home half of the seventh to set the stage for Satchell Wilson who, with ice in his veins, drew a walk to drive in Huntington’s fifth run.
Unfortunately, the frame wrapped up having left three runners stranded and the Foresters staring at a 6-5 deficit. It was all she wrote for Frame’s crew as British Columbia added another run to their total in the ninth to which HU didn’t have an answer as they went down in order to close out the day.
Landrum took the loss for the Foresters having given up three hits, two runs and two walks while striking out two in two innings of work.
HU moves to 26-15 on the year and now sit in wait to see who they face in an elimination game tomorrow morning.