Ninth Inning Grand Slam Keeps Trinity Alive In NCAA West Regional

Ninth Inning Grand Slam Keeps Trinity Alive In NCAA West Regional

(Story courtesy of Trinity University)

ABILENE, Texas - Junior outfielder Nick Pappas crushed a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Trinity baseball team to a 7-5 victory over Concordia (TX) University, in Thursday's NCAA Regional Tournament at Walt Driggers Field.

After Kyle Felix drew a walk that loaded the bases with one out, Pappas took a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field to stave off elimination for the Tigers. 

Trinity lost 3-2 to the University of Redlands yesterday, and would have been eliminated from the NCAA Playoffs with a loss. 

The Tigers struck first with a run in the top of the first, but a three-run inning by Concordia put the home team in control.  The Tornados added runs in the second and fourth innings to go up 5-1 before Trinity could answer.  The Tigers scored once in the fifth and once in the sixth to cut the lead in half, setting up the dramatic ninth-inning blast.

Pappas finished 3-4 with 5 RBI in the game, setting a Trinity record for RBI in a regional playoff game. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Concordia put the tying run aboard with no outs after two walks, but a line-drive double play on an attempted sacrifice squashed the rally.

Dylan Early was 2-4 with two runs scored, while Kevin Francke and Dominick Robusto also had two hits each.  Francke also made a sliding catch on the bunt in the ninth, leading to the key double play.

Starter Ben Klimesh lasted just three batters, sandwiching a hit batter between two walks.  Noah Solomon came on in relief, pitching 4.0 innings, and was charged with two runs on five hits. 

Ryan Lucero (6-1) earned the win, tossing five shutout innings to close the game.  Lucero gave up just two hits, and walked three, striking out two batters - including the game's final hitter.

Trinity will face fifth-ranked Linfield College tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m.  The winner advances to play on Saturday at noon.