May 5, 2012
SAN MARCOS, Calif. - In the final day of the Association of Independent Institutions Baseball Postseason Tournament at CSUSM Baseball field, No. 6 seed Dakota State faced No. 5 seed Arizona Christian in the championship game Saturday afternoon. The Trojans earned a 2-0 lead early in the game. The Firestorm put together a combined nine unanswered runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to defeat DSU 9-2. Both teams qualified for the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, which is slated to start next weekend.
Dakota State dropped their overall record to 28-26 after the loss. Arizona Christian (eliminated No. 3 seed Mayville State 6-4 in the first game Saturday) improved their record to 33-21.
It was DSU's first appearance in the A.I.I. Baseball Championship game in program history. The Trojans' last appearance in a conference tournament's championship game was in the former Dakota Athletic Conference (DAC) on May 4, 2008 versus Dickinson State (N.D.).
The Trojans earned the first lead of the game in the top of the first inning. With two outs, Anyelo Roman recorded a single. Ryan Bourcier was hit by pitch and advanced Anyelo Roman to second base. Ryan Steffensen hit an RBI single to score Anyelo Roman to give DSU a 1-0 lead.
Anyelo Roman hit an RBI double to score his brother Rays Roman to extend Trojans' lead to 2-0.
Arizona Christian ended their scoring drought in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Firestorm recorded their first hit of the game as Alex Glenn recorded a solo home run to trim their deficit to 2-1.
ACU put together three runs in in the bottom of the sixth inning to gain their first lead of the game. Zac Livingston hit an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. Kenny Zuvela scored from DSU's wild pitch to earn a 3-2 lead. Justin Klett added an RBI fielder's choice to extend their lead to 4-2.
The Firestorm produced five runs and five hits in the bottom seventh frame to expand their lead to 9-2.
Dakota State was unable to score in the final inning as they left one runner on base.
Anyelo Roman and Chaz Palmer each had a double and a single for the Trojans. Steffensen added two singles. Anyelo Roman and Steffensen each had an RBI. Kyle Holland and Andy Lee each recorded a hit.
Klett produced three RBIs and a single for Arizona Christian. Livingston added two singles and three RBIs. Euston Smalley, Daniel Pereira and Kendall Konopka each had a double.
The Firestorm left 14 runners on base. DSU had nine runners left on base.
Drew Sweeter (3-2) took the loss despite throwing a no-hitter through the first four innings for the Trojans. He worked for 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on three hits. Josh Caven pitched 2/3 innings in relief and gave up three runs on two hits. Seth Rockafellow tossed two innings and allowed two runs (one unearned) on four hits.
Jordan Bryson (2-1) notched the victory for the Firestorm. He tossed eight innings and allowed two runs on eight hits. Bryson recorded seven strikeouts. Christian McCrimon pitched a shutout ninth inning in relief.
Dakota State and Arizona Christian will move on to play in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round next weekend, which is held at nine different locations. Each location features a five-team double-elimination tournament. The 46 national qualifiers for the national's opening round will be announced on Monday.
The nine different sites for the NAIA Baseball National Tournament Opening Round are:
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director