MONTGOMERY, AL - The SSAC Championship saw a home run derby thrown in the middle three innings with a pitcher's duel in the first and last three of the game. The Faulkner Eagles ended up coming out on top 6-4 in a hard fought game that saw both teams struggle early, then show some offense before pitching took over again late to win the SSAC Conference Championship and the Avista-NAIA automatic bid from the SSAC. The Knights still expect to receive a bid as the #10 team in the most recent polls and as the regular season SSAC Champ but now must wait for the Avista-NAIA Selection show Thursday May 11.
The game got off to a tough pitching match up as Jared Crews (JR/Sanderson, FL) and Faulkner's Tylier Campbell with each pitcher facing 10 batters over the 3 innings with a walk each and one hit given up. In the top of the 4th the Knights got on the board first as Andy Mocahbee (SR/Calhoun, GA) homered to left on a 3-2 pitch to put the first run on the board and give the Knights the lead 1-0. Alan Mocahbee (SR/Calhoun, GA) walked as the next batter then Will Golden (SR/Waycross, GA) hit the first pitch he saw over the left field fence to give his team a 3-0 lead that stood up until the bottom of the 5th. In the bottom of the 5th, the Eagles finally got to Crews as tournament MVP Paolo Montezuma and Ryan Rosa homered back-to-back to cut the lead to 3-2 for the Knights. After a popout and an error by the Knights, Tra'mayne Holmes hit a 2-run homer to put the Eagles up 4-3. The Knights threatened in the top of the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs but a double play and ground out stranded the tying run at 3rd. Crews faced just two more batters to start the bottom of the 6th and Montezuma homered with a runner on to put the Eagles up 6-3 before the Knights went to Logan Carter (SO/Cordele, GA) out of the bullpen. Carter would pitch the final 3 innings only allowing a walk and facing just 9 batters but the Knights were only able to score one more run on an RBI double by Logan Smith (SR/Zebulon, GA) while the team stranded 3 runners over the final 3 innings.
The Knights had two players named to the All-Tournament Team:
Will Golden batted .429 in the tournament raising his season average to .396. He also hit two homers to raise his season total to 11 and had 11 RBI to lead the tournament and raise his season total to 68 which leads the team.
Logan Smith was the other selection batting .444 in the five games to raise his season average to .328. His two homers in the tournament both gave the Knights the lead in each of their first two matchups and gave him 7 for the season while adding 8 runs scored and 7 RBI.
The Knights now have an overall record of 43-14 and await the Avista-NAIA World Series selection show for the teams and locations on May 15-18. Last season the Knights were selected to go to Kingsport, TN which is one of the 9 Opening Round Host Sites again in 2017. Each of the winners from the 9 Opening Round sites plus World Series Host Lewis Clark State College will make up the 10 team field for the World Series May 26-June 2.