SAN MARCOS, Calif. - Dakota State survived another elimination game Friday in the third day of the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Postseason Tournament at CSUSM Baseball Field. No. 6 seed Dakota State handed No. 5 seed Arizona Christian its first loss of the tournament by the score of 4-1. As a result, Dakota State advanced to the A.I.I. Baseball championship game on Saturday and earned an automatic bid to the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
Dakota State recorded their sixth win in the last seven games to raise their overall record to 28-25 (most wins since 2007 when the Trojans qualified for the NAIA Region III Tournament). Arizona Christian dropped to 31-21.
DSU jumped to an early lead in the opening inning. Jason Hershfield hit a 2-RBI single to score Rays Roman and Anyelo Roman for a 2-0 lead.
The Firestorm ended their scoring drought with a run scored in the top of the sixth inning. Mike Greco hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Kendall Konopka to trim DSU's lead to 2-1.
The Trojans scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to expand their lead. Ryan Bourcier hit a 2-RBI single to score Rays Roman and Corey Pasichnyk (courtesy runner for Anyelo Roman) to give DSU a 4-1.
Dakota State secured the win as Arizona Christian left two runners on base in the final inning.
Hershfield and Bourcier each had a single and produced two RBIs for the Trojans. Anyelo Roman added a double and a single. Ryan Steffensen had two singles. Rays Roman had a single and scored two runs. Kyle Braun recorded a single.
Alex Glenn had a double for the Firestorm. Greco had a single and an RBI.
Arizona Christian left 11 runners on base. DSU had eight runners left on base.
Anyelo Roman (5-4) tossed a complete game victory for the Trojans. He limited the Firestorm to two hits and one unearned run.
Dylan Waugh (2-4) recorded the loss for Arizona Christian. Waugh worked for 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (one unearned) on nine hits. Jordan Bryson pitched 1/3 inning in relief.
Arizona Christian and No. 3 seed Mayville State (eliminated No. 2 seed Jamestown earlier Friday afternoon 6-5) will battle out in the elimination game. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. (Central Time)/11 a.m. (Pacific Time) at CSUSM Baseball Field in San Marcos, Calif.
The winner between the Firestorm and Comets will earn the other automatic bid for nationals and face Dakota State in the A.I.I. Baseball Championship game. The championship game is slated to start in approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the Arizona Christian-Mayville State game.
The NAIA will announce its 46-field for the opening rounds of the national tournament on Monday. The national tournament is slated to start next weekend at nine different locations.
Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director