Faulkner bats explode; Eagles stay alive in World Series

Faulkner bats explode; Eagles stay alive in World Series


Nick Cain HomerLEWISTON, Idaho (faulknereagles.com) – After his team’s heartbreaking loss to Lewis-Clark State Monday night, Faulkner head coach Patrick McCarthy spoke about his team being tight. He knew for his Eagles to stay alive in the Avista-NAIA World Series, they’d need to loosen up and enjoy the experience.Consider it done.

Facing elimination here Tuesday afternoon at Harris Field, the third-ranked Eagles pounded out 14 hits en route to a 13-6 blowout of ninth-ranked Sterling (Kan.) in the 60th edition of this national championship event.

Faulkner‘s T.J. Condon and Nick Cain both blasted two-run homers early in the game and combined for seven RBIs as the Eagles never trailed, becoming one of four teams still alive in the double-elimination tournament. The top-seeded Eagles join third seed Belleview (Neb.), which knocked out Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 4-1 earlier in the day, second seed Tennessee Wesleyan and four seed and host Lewis-Clark State. Tennessee Wesleyan and Lewis-Clark State, the only undefeated teams remaining, squared off late Tuesday night.

Because of the way the bracket breaks down when only four teams remain, McCarthy already knows Faulkner‘s opponent Wednesday will be Tennessee Wesleyan. The game time is unknown, however. If Tennessee Wesleyan beats LCSC, the Eagles-Bulldogs matchup will be at 8 central time. If the home-standing Warriors win, then Faulkner and Tennessee Wesleyan will play at 5.

“I thought our team really settled into things today and had fun out there,” said McCarthy, whose Eagles are now 51-14 on the year and have made the “final four” three times now in their five trips to Lewiston. “We got off to a good start and never let up. I could sense our confidence growing throughout the game.”

After being shutout by Lewis-Clark State Monday night on a walk-off, pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Eagles wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against the Warriors. Alexis Cruz doubled with one out in the top of the first and Condon followed with a two-run blast to the opposite field for a 2-0 Faulkner advantage.

Sterling’s Andrew Dorado tied it in the bottom half with a two-run double off of Eagle starter Phillip Anderson, but a Warrior error in the second allowed Onix Martinez to score to giveFaulkner the lead for good. The decisive inning came in the third, with Dario Polanco and Dennis Morton both collecting RBI singles and Cain adding a two-run bomb in the five-run outburst.

Faulkner‘s lead was 8-2, and Sterling never got closer than four the rest of the way. Cain drove in another run with a single in a two-run fifth, and he, Condon and Deivy Palmeiro each had RBIs in a three-run sixth that put the Warriors away.

Sterling’s Nicholas Domitrovich and Kyle Ulanday knocked in sixth-inning runs off of Faulkner reliever Kurt Lipscomb, but the Warriors were held hitless from there. Lipscomb (3-2) earned the win, while Miguel Castellanos didn’t allow hit in three innings of work to earn his fourth save of the season.

Condon had three hits in the victory, while Cain, Polanco and Palmeiro added two apiece. All nine Eagles in the starting lineup had at least one hit.. Domitrovich, Aaron Stubblefield and Jordan Espino each collected two hits for the Warriors, who end their season at 52-16.

The Eagles now prepare for a friendly foe in Tennessee Wesleyan, led by former Faulkner assistant and first-year head coach Travis Watson. McCarthy and Watson, obvious close friends, battled three times during the regular season with the Eagles taking two of the games.

“It’s really a win-win for us tomorrow from a personal standpoint,” McCarthy said. “Trust me, we want to beat each other badly, but we both know at the end of the day that our relationship means more than the result of a baseball game. We will do everything we can to win it but regardless, I’ll shake his hand and hug his neck and tell him I love him.”