Hustlin' Owls Shock No. 13 College of Idaho 6-1, Tech Advances to Finals Tomorrow
VANCOUVER - Against the region's top hitting club, Oregon Tech's Shea Bedortha allowed just one run on five hits while going the distance to put his Hustlin' Owls into the NAIA West Grouping Tournament finals against the host UBC Thunderbirds after a 6-1 win over the College of Idaho on Friday. Saturday's game with UBC will start at 12:00 noon.
The Hustlin' Owls came in as underdogs agaist the high-powered offence of the Coyotes - the same offence that put up 10 runs against them in the tournament opener - but they certainly didn't play like an underdog team on Friday. An inspired effort in all facets of the game had them leading for almost the entire contest, as they went through four different Coyotes pitchers while their own starter baffled opposing batters for a full nine innings.
The Owls scratched out a run in the first inning with a bases loaded sac fly by Ryson Mauricio. Idaho's Gavin Gamboa evened the score at one in the top of the third with a solo shot over the left field fence, but the Owls regained the lead in the bottom of the frame when Mauricio drove Trent Smith home with a single to left field.
Smith gave the Coyotes fits all game long, as he had three hits and two walks en route to scoring three of the Owls' six runs. He also picked up an RBI in the fourth inning with an infield single, and Kyle Conner picked up an RBI single as well to push the lead to 4-1 for Oregon Tech.
The Coyotes looked like they might fight their way back into the game in the seventh when they had runners on first and second with just one out. Jarel Lewis singled into centre field and Kyle Douglas collided with Conner, the Owls' catcher, trying to score from second. He knocked the ball loose, but was called out and ejected for breaking the NAIA rule requiring a runner to slide at home. The next batter grounded out to short and the Owls escaped the jam unscathed.
That seemed to kill any momentum the Idaho dugout may have had, as the Owls were able to tack on single runs in each of the next two innings, and the Coyotes went down in order in their final two turns at bat.
In addition to Smith, Mauricio also had a strong showing at the plate for the Owls, with two hits and three RBIs. Lewis was the only Coyote with two hits in the game against Bedortha, who faced just four batters over the minimum.
The Owls now have a date with the host UBC Thunderbirds in Saturday's tournament final. The first game goes at noon, but if the Owls win, a second game will follow as they have to beat the T-Birds twice to eliminate them from the double knockout tournament. Last year the T-Birds were in the same position as the Owls, losing their opening game before winning four straight, including two straight in the finals, to win the tournament. Meanwhile the Coyotes are eliminated from the tournament, but they are still hoping to get an at-large bid for the sectional tournament round of the NAIA playoffs.
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