May 14, 2014, SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds put together a dramatic ninth-inning comeback to defeat the Davenport (Mich.) Panthers 4-3 in a loser out game at the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round in Santa Clarita, Calif. on Wednesday afternoon.
With the win, UBC advances to the Santa Clarita Bracket’s Championship Game against San Diego Christian later today at 3 p.m. The Thunderbirds need to win today and then again tomorrow to advance to the 58th annual Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. If the ‘Birds lose today, their season will be over.
Trailing 3-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, UBC opened the final frame with a Tyson Popoff single that landed inside the left foul line. Bryan Arthur followed up with a double to left field to put runners on second and third with no out.
After a Davenport pitching change, Jerod Bartnik was given an intentional walk to load the bases. Tyler Enns came up to the plate and knocked a single to shallow left centre to score Popoff and tie the game 3-3.
The bases were still loaded for Kevin Biro, who came up to bat and was promptly plunked by Davenport hurler Ryan Butzer to give the Thunderbirds the victory.
UBC managed to get three hits in the bottom of the ninth with its season on the line despite recording just four in the previous eight innings.
The Thunderbirds gave up a run in the fourth and two in the fifth and trailed for nearly the entire game.
They closed to 3-2 in the sixth when Bruce Yari knocked the first pitch from Davenport starter Corey Sessions over the right field fence for a two-run home run, a hit that also scored Matt Spillman, who got on base with a walk.
Matt Thornton threw 3.2 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory for the T-Birds. Starter Jeremy Newton went 5.1 innings and surrendered three runs, two earned, before giving way to Thornton.
Bruce Yari and Popoff both went 2-for-4 at the plate against Davenport. Yari had two runs batted in, while Enns and Biro had one each.