After losing to the same Hawks team on the first day of the double-knockout tournament, the Thunderbirds made it to the final by winning two elimination games before finally bowing out just short of qualifying for the 58th annual Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
“As a coach, all you ask for is that your guys leave it all on the field and without a doubt, these guys did that and that’s what I’m most proud of. At the end of the day, we weren’t good enough to win this tournament but we were good enough to win three games as a No. 5 seed and there’s a lot to be proud of there. I couldn’t be happier,” remarked UBC head coach Terry McKaig.
Rookie pitcher Curtis Taylor, normally a reliever, made his first start of the season for UBC, and held a high-scoring San Diego Christian team to just two runs in five innings of work. The Coquitlam, B.C. native struck out four batters.
Sean Callegari replaced Taylor and threw the final three innings without surrendering a run. It was the third day in a row Callegari pitched at least two frames of relief.
The winning run came in the third inning as San Diego Christian scored in textbook fashion. Jacob Rogers drew a leadoff walk and was then bunted over to second base. Later in the inning, Cade Gotta singled through the hole at second to plate Rogers.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, Jeff Lusardi gave the Hawks some insurance in the form of a leadoff home run over the right field fence to make it 2-0.
San Diego Christian could have had more but the UBC defence made some big plays to stay in the game. Gotta was thrown out at home by Thunderbird centre fielder Bryan Arthur in the bottom of the first inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, UBC tagged out another SDC runner (Peter Hoyt) at home when Matt Spillman threw to catcher Brody Hawkins on a grounder by Taylor Eichhorst.
The Thunderbirds’ best chance to score came in the second inning when neither team had a run.
Arthur led off the inning with a double but didn’t advance any further after two fly outs and a strike out.
Arthur and Matt Spillman both had two hits to lead the ‘Birds, while Hawkins and Sebastian Wong had the others for the team.
The loss concludes the 2014 season for UBC, which won the NAIA West Grouping regular season and playoff titles and finished second at the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round’s Santa Clarita Bracket as a No. 5 seed en route to finishing the campaign with a 35-13 record.
Five T-Birds, Callegari, Wong, Matt Spillman, Tyson Popoff and Matt Thornton, made their final appearances today in a UBC uniform.
“I think this is going to be such a positive memory for our seniors, when we went out and battled right to the end and made it to the final of an Opening Round through the losers’ bracket. That’s a pretty good year,” said McKaig.