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Hillcats Fall Short in Title Game

The Hillcat baseball team is the first RSU athletic program to reach the national championship finals. (Photo Courtesy of RSU Media Relations)The Hillcat baseball team is the first RSU athletic program to reach the national championship finals. (Photo Courtesy of RSU Media Relations)

Box Score

LEWISTON, Idaho-The ninth-seeded Rogers State baseball team took an early lead in the Avista-NAIA World Series Championship game however, No.4-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan rallied to win the title, 10-6, at Harris Field on the campus of Lewis-Clark State on Friday night.

RSU (49-16) ends its magical run at the NAIA World Series winning the most games in Hillcat baseball history. They are the first Hillcat baseball team to reach the World Series and the first RSU athletic program to compete in the national championship game.

RSU clung to a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Thomas Sicking singled to start the Bulldogs rally. Travis Burnside reached on an error after laying down a sacrifice bunt but became the second out as Anthony Boix followed and reached on a fielder’s choice. With two outs and runners on the corners, Stephan Branca drew a full count walk to load the bases. With two strikes against him, Jake Stone singled to left field and two runs scored to give TWC a one run lead. Taylor Oldham belted a three run home run over the left field fence to give the Bulldogs some breathing room.

Lance Rymel drove a one-out single up the middle in the top of the ninth but TWC retired the next two batters to record the win.

The Hillcats kicked off the game on the right foot as they plated three runs in the top of the first. Eric Baker led off the inning and reached on a bobble by the shortstop. The speedy Baker went first to third on a wild pitch and Hector Rivera walked to put runners on the corners with no outs. Colton Campbell hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field to bring Baker home and Rymel followed with a walk. Cody Campbell kept the offense going as he belted a RBI double in the left-center field gap. Randy Ramirez walked to load the bases and Cade McKewon ended the scoring in the inning with a fielder’s choice RBI.

The Bulldogs answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first frame thanks to a two RBI double smacked off the left field wall by Oldham.

RSU added to its lead in the third as Rymel led off the inning with a single to right and Cody Campbell walked to start the inning. Ramirez followed with a two RBI double in the left center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Bargas later in the inning.

The Bulldogs cut the Hillcat lead in the sixth with consecutive solo shots by Jordan Guida and Drew Levi. Anthony Boix added a RBI ground out later in the inning to make it a 6-5 game.

Starting pitcher Kyle Duncan tossed five innings and allowed four runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts. Bargas (7-4) was tagged with the loss as he allowed five runs, one earned, on three hits with two walks while fanning four. Tyler Garner pitched the final third and allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout.

Four pitchers saw time on the mound for the Bulldogs. Corey Collins (4-1) tossed the final two innings and recorded the win as he allowed just one hit while fanning one.

Baker, Bargas and Shawn Spainhoward were named to the World Series all-tournament team while Baker also received the tournament gold glove.

Twelve seniors played their last game in the Hillcat red and blue. Seniors Drew Taylor, Jim Minor, Cade McKewon, Zack Williams, Lance Rymel, Randy Ramirez, Tyler Garner, Eric Faust, Taylor Estes, Freddy Soto, Jacob Wenaas and Jeremy Penn made immeasurable contributions to the RSU baseball program.

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