LIMA, OH - The Knights season came to an end on Wednesday as a back and forth game with the Hope International (Calif) Royals ended as the Royals scored 7 runs in their final two at-bats to defeat the Knights 12-11 in the Lima Bracket of the NAIA Baseball Championship Opening Round. The loss followed a win earlier in the day as the Knights played their 4th elimination game in 2 days and had been successful in each attempt to this point but could not hold off HIU who they lost two on Monday 4-2.
The Knights took the first game against #7 and Lima Bracket host, University of Northwestern Ohio (UNWO) by a score of 13-6 to stay alive in the double-elimination bracket. In that game, the Knights fell behind 2-0 in the 1st but scored 4 in the 4th and 3 more in the 5th to go with 6 in the 7th for the win. The offense saw all 9 of the starters with at least one RBI, 8 scored at least one run, and 8 reached base at least two times in the game with only one reaching just once. Andy Mocahbee (SR/Calhoun, GA) and Alan Mocahbee (SR/Calhoun, GA) hit back-to-back home runs for the first time this season and 3rd time while at Middle Georgia and Jack Bell IV (JR/Leesburg, GA) hit his 3rd homer of the season in the game. Haydn Nechanicky (JR/Suwanee, GA) drove in 3 runs while Bell and Will Golden (SR/Waycross, GA) each scored 3. Logan Smith (SR/Zebulon, GA) and Bell each had 2 RBI in the game. Austin Bowker (JR/Nuevo, CA) got the win going 5 innings with 2 Ks, a walk, and 4 earned runs while Logan Carter (SO/Cordele, GA) earned the save going 4 innings with 5 hits, 2 Ks, a walk, and 2 earned runs.
The next game was a rematch of the Knights day 1 match up in Lima, facing HIU and a game with more runs scored than the first meeting between the two. Neither team got anything going in the first two innings with each stranding a runner in the 2nd. The Knights broke through first putting up a run on a hit and error followed by a sacrifice fly by Jesus Monserrat (SR/Warner Robins, GA) to score Nechanicky. The top of the 4th brought Bell to the plate with a runner on and he hit his 2nd homer of the day to make the lead 3-0. The Royals answered in the bottom of the inning with 3 runs on 4 hits to tie the game at 3 after 4 complete. The Knights stranded one in the top of 5 and the Royals answered with 2 runs on hits with 2 errors by the defense as they took the 5-3 lead through 5. The 6th started out with Andy Mocahbee getting hit by a pitch for the 26th time this season and Golden hit a 2-run homer to center for his first of the Opening Round and 12th on the season. After a single by Bell and fielder's choice by Mikal Flores (JR/MacClenny, FL), Nechanicky planted a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence for a 2-run shot and a 7-5 lead by the Knights on his 3rd home run of the season. Crandall Poore (JR/Gray, GA ) kept the Royals at bay in the 6th and the Knights added 2 more runs on a 2-run home run by Andy Mocahbee in the top of the 7th for a 9-5 lead. The Royals answered with 4 runs on 4 hits in the bottom of the 7th chasing Poore from the game and Devan Harriman (SO/Pensacola, FL) came in but gave up a run (charged to Poore) before getting the final out of the inning in what was now a tie game at 9. The Knights went 1-2-3 in the 8th while the Royals put up 3 more runs on 4 hits to chase Harriman before Cuthrell got the final 2 outs and the Knights trailed 12-9. After 2 quick outs in the top of the 9th, Logan Smith got hit by a pitch and Andy Mocahbee put the next pitch over the left field wall to cut the lead to 12-11 but that was all the Knights could get. Harriman ended up taking the loss for the Knights in 1.1 innings of work and charged with 3 earned runs.
The Knights season ends with a better result than the 2016 campaign improving to 46-16 (39-18 in 2016) and going 6-4 in the postseason as compared to 0-4 in 2016. The 46 wins is the best since the 2012 season when the Knights were in the NJCAA and tied for the 2nd most in the past 16 years as the program won 50 games in 2002. The success in the postseason also brought the Knights to their 100th program win as a member of the NAIA in their victory over Midway University on Tuesday the 16th.
The Knights had 11 seniors this year including six starters on the field. Andy Mocahbee ended the season with 19 home runs and 75 RBI while batting .340 and slugging .708. In bracket play, he hit 5 homers, 13 RBI, batting .450 and slugging 1.300 in the 5 games. Alan Mocahbee finished with 16 homers, 58 runs scored, 53 RBI, batting .325 and slugging .665 on the season and was hit-by-pitch 23 times. Will Golden led the Knights with a batting average of .390 while slugging .670 with 12 HR, 71 RBI, 85 hits, and 21 HBP. Jesus Monserrat batted .337 with 82 hits and scored 59 runs while earning the SSAC Gold Glove at second base. Logan Smith hit .325 with 58 runs scored and 7 home runs. Bryce Todd (SR/LaGrange, GA) batted .325 with 54 hits in 54 games, 2 homers, 2 triples, and was hit-by-pitch 16 times.
From the mound, the Knights had three starters who were seniors and two relievers. Chris Rich (SR/Sugar Hill, GA) was 6-1 this year (13-1 in 2016) with a 4.42 ERA in 57.0 innings after a rough outing that resulted in a no-decision on Tuesday. Jake Hundley (SR/Newnan, GA) finished the year 7-2 including the first win for the Knights in NAIA Postseason two weeks ago and had a 3.74 ERA in 53.0 innings. Mason Klotz (SR/Maringouin, LA) was 9-4 in his only season with the Knights striking out 125 in 89.1 innings with a 3.93 ERA and a no-hitter on April 27, 2017, that clinched the SSAC Regular Season Championship for the Knights. Trey Mallet (SR/Forsyth, GA) pitched in 2 games for the Knights this year as a senior and Hayden Whitlow (SR/Sharpsburg, GA) had 5 appearances for the team with 7.1 innings pitched and 7 Ks.