California Baptist University captures 2012 NCCAA National Baseball Championship
Courtesy CBU Sports Information
MASON, OH - In all his years playing and coaching baseball, California Baptist University Head Coach Gary Adcock had never ended his season with a win in the postseason.
Tournament MVP Patrick Smith hurled three dominant innings of relief, and the Lancers broke a 3-3 tie with five unanswered runs in their last two at-bats to beat Oklahoma Wesleyan 8-3 on Saturday (May 19), winning the 2012 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) World Series.
“I’ve played and coached a long time and this is a first for me, and that’s a special feeling,” Adcock said. “I told the guys before the game that you can be in the game a long time and never get this opportunity so when you get it you have to capitalize on it.”
And capitalize is exactly what the Lancers did.
They carried a 3-2 lead into the fifth inning when the first two Eagles reached on an error and a bunt single to chase starter Jesse Arreola. Smith came in and gave up an RBI double to the first batter he faced that tied the game 3-3 and put runners at second and third with nobody out.
Smith (10-2) forced a lineout to short from Jarett Hardy, the Eagles’ cleanup hitter, induced Josh Davis into a flyout to left, and finally struck out Nick Palese on three pitches. The strikeout pitch had a little extra.
“I reached back and the adrenaline was pumping on that fastball,” Smith. “Whenever you strike a guy out to end an inning, it’s a rush that pumps the guys up in the dugout.”
The game turned on that strikeout.
“The game really boiled down to that situation,” Adcock said. “They had some good two-strike at-bats, but he dialed it up and blew that guy away. I don’t know what he hit on the gun, but I think that was his best fastball of the year. We then came in and were able to score.”
Lead-off hitter Luke Esquerra, who reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances, led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo blast to left center on a 3-2 pitch to break the tie.
Then, the Lancers’ 2-3-4 hitters - Kevin Odom, Matt Marnati and Blair Moore - who were a combined 6-for-45 in the World Series entering today's game - all jumped into the act to give the Lancers a key insurance run.
Odom double to right field to chase OWU starter Dustin Phelps (7-6). Marnati singled. Moore drove in Odom with a single to make it 5-3.
“We could have easily blown the lead and panicked, but those guys who had been struggling stayed with their approached and came up big,” Adcock said.
After a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth by Smith, the Lancers added three more in the home sixth, all of them with two outs to blow the game open. Odom had an RBI single and Marnati had a twin-RBI double.
The Eagles posted a pair of two out hits in the seventh, but Smith, who threw a complete-game Wednesday night (May 16) and came back on just two day’s rest, forced Davis to fly out to Andy Crowley to clinch the championship.
Smith and the Lancers piled on the infield.
“I got my foot stepped on, but I’ll take a little pain for what we just went through,” he said. “I can’t even explain it. I’m at a loss for words. It’s complete storybook ending to the season. It’s a great group of guys.”
Smith gave up just three hits and had just one strikeout, but it was a big one. He finished the tournament with two wins, allowing just one earned run in 10 innings of work to win MVP honors.
“After he struck that guy out in the fifth, he looked at me and said ‘you don’t need to go to the bullpen, I’ve got this one,’ and I believed him,” Adcock smith.
After scoring eight runs in the first three games of the World Series combined, the Lancers scored eight for the second straight game. In six total games, the Lancer pitchers combined to allow just nine total runs (three earned) in 41 innings pitched, a 0.66 ERA.
Esquerra, Odom and Marnati, who had just one hit in five previous World Series games, all had two hits apiece. Esquerra finished the World Series 7 for 12 (.583) with a team-best five runs.
Marnati and Moore finished with two RBI each. Though he was 0 for 2, Cole Bullard was also named to the NCCAA World Series All-Tournament Team, hitting .333 with a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch - all while playing stellar behind the plate.
With the title, CBU now has won six NCCAA Championships this year.
(PacWest Editor's Note: The statistics and team record of the NCCAA World Series are not reflected in the final record or statistics for California Baptist University. The NCCAA World Series uses a single-game, 7-inning format for its tournament. NCAA baseball rules state that all games must be 9-inning contests, or consecutive 7-inning contests against the same team. Congratulations to the Lancers for an outstanding season and an NCCAA World Series title!)