KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Second-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan saw its season come to an end at the 2017 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round - Kingsport Bracket on Wednesday as Indiana Southeast rallied for the 9-8 victory in the losers' bracket finale.
No. 3 seed IU Southeast pulled out even more heroics in the championship round as it came back from a 6-4 deficit in the top of the ninth to win 9-6 in 10 innings over top-seeded Keiser (Fla.).
IU Southeast and Keiser will play once more on Thursday at 12 p.m. ET for the right to advance to the AVISTA-NAIA World Series.
The tournament is being held at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport, Tenn.
Game 7 - IU Southeast 9, Tennessee Wesleyan 8
Tennessee Wesleyan appeared to be in control of things, owning a 5-0 lead after the top of the seventh. However, IU Southeast rallied in the bottom of the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. Clay Benefield singled in the go-ahead run for the Grenadiers.
In the eighth, Malik Stephens scored on a wild pitch to even the ledger at 6-all. Yet, IU Southeast scored three in the bottom of the frame to take a 9-6 advantage. Cody Maloon's two-run single was the big hit of the inning.
Alfred Cruz made things interesting in the ninth, belting a two-run home run to pull Tennessee Wesleyan within 9-8. Stephens then walked to put the tying run on with one out. However, IU Southeast reliever Chase Vanik picked up a strikeout and a flyout to end the game.
Cruz finished the game 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Tennessee Wesleyan ended the season 41-20 overall.
Game 8 - IU Southeast 9, Keiser 6
Keiser was one out away from advancing to the AVISTA-NAIA World Series, but IU Southeast's Hector Marmol had other ideas.
Trailing 6-4 with one on and two out in the top of the ninth, Marmol sent a 3-1 offering over the right-field wall for a two-run home run, tying the game at 6-all.
In the 10th, IU Southeast kept the magic going. With runners on the corners and one out, Zach Reboulet singled in the go-ahead run. Richard Rodriguez followed with a two-run triple, giving IU Southeast (48-14 overall) a 9-6 lead.
Keiser (41-19 overall) went down in order in the bottom of the 10th, sealing the IU Southeast victory and forcing the 'if necessary' game.
Marmol finished 3-for-6 with four RBIs.