LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) For the first time in program history, Southeastern (Fla.) claims the coveted red banner as the Fire downed No. 7 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), 6-3, Thursday night in the championship game of the 2018 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.
The Fire (59-7), who finished undefeated in their first-ever appearance in the event, are the first team since Faulkner (Ala.) in 2013 to sweep its way to a title. Southeastern is the 34th different program – first from the state of Florida – to win the championship in the event’s 62-year history
As they had all tournament, the Fire received another quality starting pitching performance – this time from Eddie Jimenez. Despite this being his first appearance in more than a month, the senior from Lawton, Okla., scattered five hits and two runs in 5.1 innings of work. He also struck out seven Lions.
Dominic Anagnos, Ivan Nunez
For the third time in six games at this year’s World Series, Freed-Hardeman put a run on the board in the first inning. Aden Campbell had the key hit in the frame when he slapped an RBI single to right field that dropped just out of the reach of the diving Fire right fielder to give the Lions the early 1-0 lead.
Southeastern, which went hitless the first time through the order, came alive offensively in the top of the fourth. Two singles and an error loaded the bases with one out for Valerio, who capitalized on the situation by poking a two-RBI single into left field. Three-straight walks and an error pushed the Fire lead to 5-1 at the end of the inning.
Back-to-back solo home runs by Freed-Hardeman’s Josh Sears and De’Mikyle Holmes cut the deficit to 5-3 after six innings. The long-ball for Sears was his 21st on the season.
Southeastern added an insurance run in the top of the eighth on Nunez’s first home run of the World Series and seventh on the year.
Campbell, who ended the night 2-for-4 at the dish, was the only multi-hit player for Freed-Hardeman. All six of the Lions’ hits came from the top five batters in their lineup.
Freed-Hardeman, which was also appearing in its first-ever World Series, ends the year with a 47-16 overall record.
Thursday night’s matchup marked the first time that two World Series newcomers met in the finals since Albertson (Idaho) – now College of Idaho – defeated Indiana Tech in 1998.
The World Series concluded with an awards ceremony that included the All-Tournament Team, the Charles Berry Hustle Award, the World Series Gold Glove Award and the Most Valuable Player Award. Honorees are listed below.
2018 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series – Award Winners
Most Valuable Player – Manuel Mesa, Southeastern (Fla.)
Charles Berry Hustle Award – Manuel Mesa, Southeastern (Fla.)
Gold Glove Award – Michael Pereznegon, Antelope Valley (Calif.)
1B – Tyler Pittmon, Antelope Valley (Calif.)
2B – Walter Coursey, Georgia Gwinnett
3B – Brandon Frazier, Georgia Gwinnett
SS – Jordan Tylski, Georgia Gwinnett
INF – Garrett Foster, Oklahoma City
C – Cory Voss, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
C – Joe Leatherwood, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
OF – Manuel Mesa, Southeastern (Fla.)
OF – De’Mikyle Holmes, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
OF – Marvin Malone, Southeastern (Fla.)
OF – Sergio Lopez, St. Thomas (Fla.)
DH – Ivan Nunez, Southeastern (Fla.)
P – Jonathan Bermudez, Southeastern (Fla.)
P – Austin Steel, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
P – Gregory Loukinen, Georgia Gwinnett
P – Beau Caviness, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)