LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) A first-time champion will now officially be crowned at the 62nd annual event, as World Series newcomer No. 5 Southeastern (Fla.) eliminated No. 6 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), 9-6, Wednesday night at the 2018 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.
Southeastern ace Jonathan Bermudez was steady again tonight, as the junior scattered seven hits and allowed six runs (three earned) through 7.1 innings of work. Bermudez (15-2) struck out 12 in the contest, which marks the sixth time this season with double-digit strikeouts.
"Bermudez gave us a chance to win and had a great performance," said Southeastern head coach Adrian Dinkel. "We found a way to get on base and score early, which made the difference."
As he has done all World Series, Manuel Mesa singled up the middle to open the game and spark a three-run first inning for the Fire. A Marvin Malone single two batters later plated Mesa from second. A sacrifice fly and another single rounded out the scoring plays for Southeastern in the first inning.
Lewis-Clark State scratched across a run in the bottom of the first on a Tyler McDowell single to make it a 3-1 game after one.
Southeastern’s Adam De La Cruz homered to start the second to push the Fire’s early lead to 4-1. The home run is his eighth of the season and second at the World Series.
The Fire broke the game open with four runs in the third inning. A wild pitch followed by a throwing error on the Lewis-Clark State catcher scored Ivan Nunez and Dan Valerio from second and third.
Lewis-Clark State’s offense made some noise in the bottom of the fourth when Matt Thompson shot a fastball over the right-center fence for a two-run home run. The home run, which cut the Southeastern lead to 8-3, is Thompson’s fifth of the season and first at this year’s World Series.
Bermudez sat down six-straight batters before the Warrior bats came alive in the bottom of the eighth inning to the tune of three runs. Three-straight singles opened the stanza, but it was a two-out, two-run throwing error by the Southeastern shortstop that made the biggest difference in the inning.
Southeastern added an insurance in the top of the ninth run when Mesa crossed home plate on a fielder’s choice.
However, in their trademark style, Lewis-Clark State did not go quietly in the ninth. The Warriors loaded the bases with two outs but failed to score.
Mesa was the sparkplug for the Southeastern offense again tonight. The junior outfielder was 3-for-5, including two doubles, with two runs scored and one RBI.
Malone (2-for-4) was the only other Fire player with more than one hit.
Each of the top three hitters for the Warriors – Joey Parente, Kasey Bailey
Lewis-Clark State falls short of the title game for the first time since 2012. The Warriors end the year with a 40-13 overall record.