LEWISTON, Idaho – Every Crusader in the starting lineup registered at least one hit to propel No. 9 William Carey (Miss.) to a 12-3 victory over No. 6 Missouri Baptist Tuesday afternoon in elimination play at the 2017 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series. The 61st annual event it taking place at Harris Field inside Ed Cheff Stadium.
With the win, William Carey locked down one of the final four places in this year's field. The Crusaders, who are now 45-19 on the season and 7-4 all-time in the World Series, will not know their opponent for tomorrow until the conclusion of the games today. The pairings for Game 16 and Game 17 of the World Series are determined by the World Series Tournament Committee.
William Carey's Larson Barkurn (SR/Petal, Miss.), who entered the game 2-for-12 at this year's World Series, found his groove against the Spartan pitching staff. The Petal, Miss., native ended the afternoon with a game-high tying three hits, including a two-run home run.
Additionally, the Crusaders continued to get production out of senior catcher Tyler Graves (SR/Petal, Miss.), who maintains at least a .500 batting average in the World Series with a 3-for-5, four RBI effort at the dish today. He also scored one run.
Overall, William Carey tallied 17 hits, which is the most for the club since tallying back-to-back 17-hit performances against Stillman (Ala.) on April 27 and 28.
Graves blasted his third home run of the World Series – this one a two-run variety – over the hitter's eye in center field to give William Carey a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. He now boasts eight home runs this season. The Crusaders threatened to add more, however, a strikeout and ground out cut the rally short.
Missouri Baptist added a run of its own in the top of the third inning to make a 2-1 contest. Culver Plant registered the RBI on a ground ball to second base that scored Aaron Collazo from third base. Collazo reached earlier in the inning on a double – his second at this year's World Series.
William Carey doubled its run total to 4-1 when Barkurn hit the club's second two-run home run on the afternoon in the bottom of the fourth inning. The senior from Petal, Miss., entered the World Series without a home run, but showed plenty of power at the event with two home runs through four games.
The Crusaders added another run before the end of the stanza on an errant throw on a fielder's choice by the Missouri Baptist's first baseman that scored Wes Brown (JR/Denham Springs, La.).
Williams Carey's offense continued to run on all cylinders into the bottom of the fifth inning, extending its lead to 11-1 on six hits. After loading the bases with one out, the Crusaders went single, strike out, single, single, before Graves capped the rally with a RBI double.
The Spartans put two on the board in the sixth to cut to deficit to 11-3 when Austin Rieman launched a two-run home run. Reiman, who entered that at-bat hitless at this year's World Series, now has five long-balls this season.
William Carey closed the scoring with one run in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly.
Crusaders' Cole Edgens (JR/Central, La.) (10-1) scattered seven hits and allowed three runs over the course of 5.1 innings en route to the win.
Missouri Baptist was led offensively by Collazo, who ended the day with three hits and one run scored.
The Spartans end the year with a 45-16 record and drop to 1-2 all-time at the World Series. Missouri Baptist was appearing in the event for the second time in program history.
Article written by: ALAN GROSBACH NAIA Associate Director of Athletics Communications and Media