No. 19 Taylor Secures First Ticket to NAIA World Series Since 1969

by | May 18, 2023 | Baseball, Featured | 0 comments

No. 19 Taylor Secures First Ticket to NAIA World Series Since 1969

UPLAND, Ind. – Two days ago, the No. 19 Taylor baseball team (40-15) carried a three-game losing streak into competition in the Upland Bracket of the 2023 NAIA Opening Rounds. Late Thursday evening, after a series of oh so fortunate events, the Trojans lingered on the turf at Winterholter Field with a three-game winning streak and their first NAIA Opening Round title in program history after securing a 12-0 defeat over RV Point Park (39-17).

It was a slow and sweet moment, marked by laughter and tears and a wonderful mixture of the two in tandem, as the Taylor community celebrated its first ticket to the NAIA Baseball World Series since 1969.

The path toward Lewiston, Idaho, was paved by three wins won in two days. Though the first two victories held a combined margin of victory of just three runs, the Trojans flexed all their muscle in a 12-run throttling of Point Park on Wednesday before a rambunctious Winterholter Field crowd.

Sophomore transfer from Indiana Tech, Dalton Swinehart, started on the bump for Taylor and capitalized on a chance at redemption. After Swinehart recorded just two outs in last night’s matchup with Point Park, he took the rock again Wednesday evening and plastered four-straight zeros on the board.

The TU starter traversed four-and-two-thirds scoreless innings while scattering four hits and tallying four strikeouts. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning, Swinehart then handed the rock to Jack Ross who calmly forced a groundout to freshman shortstop Ben Kennedy to end the Pioneer threat.

Ross (6-0) went on to finish three-and-one-third innings of relief, earning his sixth win of the season two nights after he matched the single-season program record with his eighth save of the year.

The fourth-inning threat was the one real rally that the Point Park lineup mustered throughout the game. Meanwhile, the Trojan lineup seemingly scored at will, including a seven-run outburst in the third inning.

A discerning eye at the plate energized much of TU’s run production as five walks in the third frame alone set the table for two clutch base knocks. One of those knocks produced the final three runs of the inning, and it came from the dynamic left-handed bat of Kaleb Kolpien, the 2023 Crossroads League batting champion.

Kolpien smacked a double deep in the left-center field gap to bring home a trio of Trojans, crafting a cool 10-0 lead as the Trojan faithful went berserk in the bleachers, down the lines, and everywhere in between.

TU’s sophomore sensation from Fort Wayne, Indiana, finished the game a perfect 3-3 at the plate, all the while matching a career-best with six RBI. His first hit of the game took the tune of a sharp crack of the bat that sent a Pioneer pitch directly into the wind and then out into the loop beyond the right-center field fence.

It was Kolpien’s sixth home run of the season and one of 93 total hits, a mark that sits just one shy of the single-season program record set by Nathan Targaart in 2017. Kolpien will have at least two more opportunities to scratch his name into the TU record book, as the Trojans prepare to make their second trip to the NAIA Baseball World Series in program history.

The Trojans will bring 40 wins into competition at Lewiston, serving as the fourth time in Taylor history that the Trojans have tallied 40 or more wins in a single season and the second time in as many seasons.

Taylor’s 40th win in 2023 culminated in its second dogpile of the season, a moment of unfiltered, childlike joy that came in the wake of Jared Crandall striking out the side in the Pioneer half of the ninth inning.

At this point, what else can said other than: Lewiston, Idaho, here comes Taylor.

The 2023 Avista NAIA Baseball World Series is set to unfold between May 26 and June 2. Stay tuned to for more information as it becomes available regarding the world series.

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