KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Timely hitting, good defense and quality relief pitching proved to be the right combination for No. 5 seed St. Francis (Ill.) to defeat No. 3 seed Indiana Tech 6-4 on Saturday and advance to the championship round of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round - Kingsport Bracket.
St. Francis (40-16 overall) now faces No. 1 seed Tennessee Wesleyan at 2:30 p.m. In order to advance to the AVISTA-NAIA World Series, the Saints must win twice.
Indiana Tech ends the year at 40-22 overall.
The Warriors grabbed the early lead, scoring twice in the top of the first. However, it could've been more but Indiana Tech has a runner thrown out at home on a failed steal attempt.
St. Francis scored a run in the bottom of the first to make it 2-1 before posting three in the second for a 4-2 advantage. Tied at 2-2, Justin Blaine broke the deadlock with a two-run single.
Not ready to bow out, Indiana Tech evened the score at 4-4 with a run in the third and another in the fourth. Jake Owens belted a solo home run in the fourth to tie the game. The Warriors looked as if they would take the lead in the fifth, but they had another runner gunned down at the plate.
St. Francis took the lead for good on a Brandon Mendoza sac fly. The Saints tacked on an insurance run in the sixth thanks to a David Schwabe RBI single.
Corey Schultz took over from there. The Saint reliever tossed 2 2/3 of shutout ball to collect his second save of the tournament and seventh of the season. Michael Chimera collected the win to improve to 4-2.
Blaine paced the St. Francis offense with a 4-for-4, two-RBI performance.
Eric Zagone took the loss to fall 8-4 on the season. Iggy Mackenzie drove in two runs for the Warriors, while Craig Herrmann went 4-for-5.