LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) After a shaky first inning, Jacob Sawyers found his groove, scattering nine hits over eight innings to lead No. 7 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) to a 5-4 victory over No. 6 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) Monday evening in the winner’s bracket of the 2018 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.

“For our offense to come back and make a statement after they just got four runs was big,” said Freed-Hardeman head coach Jonathan Estes. “Our offense tonight returned the favor and gave Jacob some confidence because his offense is going to be behind him tonight. It’s a team game and when one person has a bad inning or bad at-bat we pick each other up.”

With the win, the Lions remain unbeaten at 3-0 in their first-ever World Series appearance. Freed-Hardeman (46-14) squares off against fellow tournament rookie No. 5 Southeastern (Fla.) tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. PDT.

Sawyers (8-1) allowed four runs in the top of the first via a grand slam by Lewis-Clark State’s Kyle Callahan, but settled in after that. From the start of the second inning on, the sophomore right-hander allowed seven hits and no runs. He also struck out seven in his eight frames of work.

“It was a great game all around and I’m thankful that I had my defense behind me,” said Sawyers. “It (the crowd) was awesome. The atmosphere was great. It was great to pitch against.”

For the second day in-a-row, Freed-Hardeman’s Beau Caviness closed the door in the ninth for his NAIA-best 18th save of the season.

De’Mikyle Holmes led the offense for Freed-Hardeman with two hits, two RBI and a run scored. Kaimana Ancog also posted a multi-hit night for the Lions.

A walk, hit-by-pitch and an infield single loaded the bases for Lewis-Clark State with two outs in the top of the first, and the opportunity was not wasted as Callahan sent the third pitch he saw into orbit for the World Series’ second grand slam home run on the day. The home run is 10th of the season.

However, the lead was short lived for the Warriors, as Freed-Hardeman scored five runs in the bottom of the first. Three walks to open the game loaded the bases for Aden Campbell, who slapped a single to the shortstop to open the scoring for the Lions. Four pitches later, Holmes joined in with a two-RBI double to right-center before a single to center by Ancog plated the inning’s final run.

One of the biggest threats during the scoreless stretch came in the bottom of the sixth when the Lions had runners on second and third with only one out. However, a fielder’s choice followed by a strikeout ended the inning with no damage done.

Lewis-Clark State had a chance to tie the game with a runner on third in the bottom of the ninth, but failed the plate the run.

Warriors’ starting pitcher Tyler Burch (9-2) took the loss after allowing five runs – four earned – and failing to get an out in the first inning.

Lewis-Clark State (39-12) falls to 1-1 in this year’s double-elimination event and will play No. 8 Antelope Valley (Calif.) tomorrow at 3 p.m.