MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Thomas University baseball team took down Talladega College (Ala.), 11-0, Tuesday night at Mainieri Field in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
The Night Hawks lost the first game of the Opening Round, 3-2, to Talladega on Monday morning, then defeated Bryan College, 11-10, Tuesday morning after scoring six runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Thomas next faces William Jessup (Calif.) at 11 a.m. Wednesday. With a win, TU will play top-seeded St. Thomas (Fla.) at 2:30 p.m., and with a loss, the Night Hawks will be eliminated from the tournament.
Thomas jumped on Talladega early, scoring two in the top of the first, then added four runs in the third, four more in the sixth and one in the eighth.
Chase Hinson drew a leadoff walk, then Luis Martinez was also walked to put the first two TU batters on safely. Hinson was caught stealing, and Jake Bryan struck out to bring Levi O'Steen to the plate with two outs. He also reached on a walk, then Landon Boyette sent a double to right field, plating TU's first two runs.
Hinson sent a single to left to lead off the third inning, and Martinez reached on a TC error. Bryan then hit his second three-run homer in as many games, and third home run of the tournament, a shot over the right field fence. O'Steen singled to right and Boyette hit an infield single, but Maury Gonzalez hit into a double play, leaving only O'Steen on third base. A wild pitch with Jake Webb at the plate allowed O'Steen to score and put TU up, 6-0.
Thomas added four more runs in the sixth inning to extend the lead to 10-0. Jake Webb led off the inning with a fly out to center, then Tyler Keaton sent a solo home run over the right field wall. Keefer Beaty singled to left then advanced to third when Hinson reached on an error. Martinez drove in both guys with a single to center. Bryan connected on a double to right, moving Martinez to third with just one out. O'Steen reached on a dropped fly ball, which allowed Martinez to score and Bryan to advance to third. Boyette struck out and O'Steen was thrown out on a fielder's choice to end the inning.
The Night Hawks added an insurance run in the top of the eighth, to go ahead, 11-0. Bryan hit a leadoff single to right, then was replaced with pinch runner Trent Viche. Clellan Barnes struck out swinging, then Boyette reached on a walk. Randy Heller singled to left, loading the bases for Webb, who hit an RBI single to left field.
In the bottom of the eighth, Talladega threatened to score, but the Thomas defense held strong. Haley forced the first batter to fly out to left, but then loaded the bases, allowing a single and a pair of walks. Brent Summers came in for relief, and forced Talladega to hit it to Gonzalez at third, who threw out the runner at home for a fielder's choice. Then Summers forced an infield pop up to end the inning.
Starting pitcher Patrick Haley struck out three and held Talladega scoreless despite giving up eight hits and walking three in 7.1 innings. Brent Summers came in for 1.2 innings, striking out one and holding onto the shutout for Thomas.