By: LSU-Shreveport Athletics
LEWISTON, Id (LSU-Shreveport Athletics) – Following an incredible run that saw the LSUS Baseball team capture a RRAC Conference Championship and then an NAIA Opening Round Championship that ultimately propelled them to the NAIA World Series, their season has come to an end.
This team has appeared to be a team of destiny facing adversity at every turn. Hit with Covid early in the season, all baseball activities would be shut down for 14 days, and then a once in a century ice and snow storm canceled another series with Loyal that set back the progression of the team. The Pilots would sit at 12-11 which was one of the slowest starts in recent program history, but it would only ignite the fire that burned within this team. LSUS would drop an early conference series, but then would go on a historic run winning 33 of 38 games and finding their way to the NAIA World Series for the first time in nine years. The Pilots would start the Series off with a win against Keiser University before dropping their second game to the #1 seeded Fire of Southeastern University. That would set the stage for a team that was 8-0 in elimination games this year to do it again.
Facing elimination, the Pilots would square off against the host school, #3 seed Lewis-Clark State College. The Warriors’ second batter would hit a homerun to give them an early 1-0 lead, but the Pilots would bring some fireworks of their own. Austin McNicholas and Kody Kolb would both reach with singles before the smoking hot Carlos Pineyro would blast a 3-run home for the Pilots. Taylor Fajardo would reach on a walk before Julian Flores would hit a double to the left center gap driving him in. The Warriors would make an early pitching change and bring in their top closer, Jesse Parker, to slow the momentum that was building for the Pilots. Parker would silence the Pilot’s bats for several innings while the Warrior offense would creep back in.
Kevin Miranda was solid for the Pilots over the first four innings allowing seven hits and four runs before getting in trouble forcing the Pilot’s to go to the bullpen. LuisDiego Quintana would relieve Miranda, but a single up the middle scoring two runs followed by a homerun would end the day for Quintana. Ryan Sturgeon would replace Quintana, and immediately force a slow roller back to the mound that should have ended the inning. Unfortunately, a wild throw to first would send the ball into right field allowing another run to score and the hitter to advance to third. After a walk and a hit by pitch, the next batter would ground out to McNicholas to end the inning. The damage had been done however, and LC would score five in the inning regaining the lead.
Taylor Fajardo would hit a homerun in the next inning keeping the Pilots within striking distance, but the inning would end with LSUS trailing 5-8.
Trent Shoulders was next up to pitch for the Pilots and gave an impressive performance allowing just one run on one hit while going 3.0 innings. In the bottom of the sixth the Pilots offense would awaken and they would load up the bases with no outs, but would be unable to score any runs. The seventh inning was not much different as the Pilots would get two runners on with just one out, but again could not capitalize.
The Warriors would hit a solo homerun in the eighth to extend their lead back to four before Miguel Morgan would hit one of his own in the bottom half. Sebastian Selway, in his final appearance for LSUS, would hold the Warriors scoreless keeping the Pilot’s hopes alive. Desperately needing runs, LSUS would again load up the bases in the bottom half of the ninth sending a nervous energy throughout the home crowd. But today it was not meant to be for the Pilots. Back to back strikeouts followed by a weak popup to second would end the game and the season for LSUS.
The story of the day would be runners left on base as the Pilots would strand 13 runners on 16 hits.