KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan took care of business and defeated No. 5 seed St. Francis (Ill.) 14-4 on Saturday to win the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round - Kingsport Bracket to advance to the AVISTA-NAIA World Series.
The Bulldogs (48-11 overall) went a perfect 3-0 in the tournament and will be making their third consecutive trip to the AVISTA-NAIA World Series, which begins play on May 25 in Lewiston, Idaho.
In its three game, Tennessee Wesleyan outscored its opponents 28-9.
The Bulldogs began their championship march in the third inning with a five-run rally. Drew Levi had the big hit in the frame with a three-run double. Levi singled in a run in the fifth to put Tennessee Wesleyan up 6-0.
St. Francis made things interesting in the sixth when David Kuhne belted a three-run home run, cutting the deficit to 6-3.
Tennessee Wesleyan added a run in the seventh, and St. Francis scored again in the top of the eighth to make it 7-4 contest. Then, the Bulldogs sealed their berth to the NAIA World Series with a seven-run eighth inning. The outburst was punctuated by a Jordan Guida three-run home run that put Tennessee Wesleyan up 14-4.
The Saints went down in order in the ninth, and the celebration was one for the Bulldogs.
Levi finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs, while Guida and Taylor Oldham each drove in three. Stephan Branca went 4-for-5, finishing the tournament 9-for-12.
Jeremy Fitzgerald picked up the win to improve to 10-0 on the year. He lasted six innings and allowed three runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
Ryne Gill suffered the loss for the Saints, putting him at 0-1 on the season.
St. Francis finishes the year at 40-17.
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