MONTGOMERY, AL - The Knights punched their ticket to the Southern States Athletic Conference Finals on Sunday at 2:30 PM Eastern but did so a little bit later than expected. The Knights had to face the University of Mobile Rams three times in two days to reach the Championship game and took 2 of the 3 games. The teams met first on Friday in the 2nd round of play in which the Knights won 15-4 in 7 innings sending the Rams to the losers bracket where they defeated Loyola 11-3 to earn a rematch.
The first game of the day was a wild game that saw the Knights trail from the first inning but keep fighting until the final inning in a 17-13 loss. The Knights were plagued with 6 errors while the Rams racked up 21 hits in the game to score their 17 runs scoring at least one in every inning except the 6th. The Knights put up 13 runs on 15 hits and even had the tying run on 1st with 2 outs in the 8th before the Rams got out of the jam.
Game 2 started out rough for the Knights with Chris Rich (SR/Sugar Hill, GA) taking the mound and hoping to turn the tide back to the Knights. After giving up 2 runs on 2 hits and an error in the top of the 1st, Rich was able to strand one runner and stop the Rams. The Knights came back in the bottom of the 1st with Will Golden (SR/Waycross, GA)'s RBI on a hit-by-pitch and Mikal Flores (JR/MacClenny, FL)'s RBI walk to score a pair of runs on 2 hits and an error by Mobile but stranded 3. Rich gave up a hit to lead off the second but a caught stealing and two groundouts ended the inning quickly with the score at 2 each. The Knights took the lead in the 2nd on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch of Alan Mocahbee (SR/Calhoun, GA) followed by 2-run single for Will Golden. Mikal Flores added an RBI on a fielder's choice then Haydn Nechanicky (JR/Suwanee, GA) doubled home the 5th run of the inning for a 7-2 lead. Neither team put anything up in the 3rd but the Rams plated 2 more in the 4th to cut the lead to 7-4 and the score remained there until the bottom of the 7th as Rich retired the next 9 Rams batters and the Knights stranded 4 runners. In the bottom of the 7th, the Knights would load the bases sending two pitchers out and the Rams brought in Waters as their 7th pitcher of the game to face Alan Mocahbee with the bases loaded. Mocahbee put the 1-0 pitch from Waters over the left-center field wall for a grand slam and what turned out to be 4 important runs as the lead went to 11-4. The Rams got one more off Rich in the top of the 8th to make it 11-5 before Rich exited to start the top of the 9th. The Rams made it interesting putting up 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 hit-by-pitch before Crandall Poore (JR/Gray, GA ) would get the final out to preserve the win at 11-5. Rich picked up his 6th win of the season going 8 innings while striking out 6.
The win puts the Knights facing the Faulkner University Eagles for the Tournament Championship and the SSAC's Automatic Bid to the Opening Round of the Avista-NAIA World Series. The Knights are 2-1 against the Eagles this season including a wild finish in game 3 of their series that saw the Knights score 9 runs with 2 outs in the top of the 9th for a 10-6 win and what ultimately was the game that gave the Knights the regular season SSAC Championship.
The Championship Game starts at 2:30 PM Sunday and will be shown live on the SSAC Stretch Internet Portal with Live Stats at DakStats. Links for both can be found on the home page of www.MGAKnights.com.