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Hope International (Calif.) Claims First Red Banner in Program History

Jun 01, 2024

LEWISTON, Idaho –  [SCHEDULE | BRACKET] The 67th Annual NAIA World Series concluded Friday night at Harris Field with Hope International (Calif.) claiming the first Red Banner in program history. This is the second consecutive season that the national champion has come from the Golden State Athletic Conference.

The Royals suffered a loss in their first game before winning five straight elimination games including the No. 2, No. 5, No. 6, No. 8, and No. 9 seeds along the way including a conference opponent.

The Bulldogs got things started right away, as Evan Magill singled to the pitcher which scored Braxton Turner on a throwing error. Later in the inning, Cayle Webster hit a sacrifice fly to right field to make it a 2-0 advantage for TWU. Hope International wasted little time responding as JJ Cruz continued his hot streak with a three run homer to right field. The next batter, Alec Arnone hit a solo homer to left to make it 4-0 favoring the Royals.

Scoring continued for Tennessee Wesleyan in the top of the second, as Jack Stevens belted a three run shot to center field taking advantage of no wind in any direction. Trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the second, the Royals stranded runners on second and third.

Kruise Newman, the hero who lifted Tennessee Wesleyan in the bottom of the 11th a night ago, launched a solo homer to right field, bringing the score to 6-4. After each team went three up, three down, the score was 6-4 heading into the bottom of the fourth.

With two outs punched, the Royals began the rally. Amari Bartee singled through the left and then a fielding error gave HIU two base runners. They both scored on Alex Moreno’s single to right field before Cruz’s double plated the third run. Hope International carried their 7-6 lead into the fifth.

HIU increased their margin in the bottom of the fifth, making it 8-6, on Ryan Lamastra’s right field single which scored Dean Toigo. Trailing by two in the top of the seventh, TWU had runners on the corners with no outs which forced a pitching change from the Royals. The new pitcher, Steven Ordorica, struck out three straight batters to preserve the two run edge for HIU.

In the bottom of the seventh, HIU had runners on first and second when a perfectly placed bunt by Marion Jones was going to load the bases, but a throwing error ended up scoring a run. The lead increased on the next batter when Lamastra roped a single to right center which scored two more and make it an 11-6 lead.

Later in the same inning, Rivera launched a two-run homer to left field to make it a 13-6 advantage. The celebration began in the dugout as Derek Sims hit an RBI double to left field, bringing it to a 14-6 count.

Cruz was once again a monster in the batter’s box going 2-5 with RBI and two extra base hits. Rivera was 3-5 with three scores and two runs driven in while Lamastra was 3-5 with a trio of RBI.

Trey Seeley had his third appearance of the tournament and threw five full innings for the Royals. Ordorica came in for the nine out save, which was his fourth of the season, thanks to five strike outs.

In the loss, Stevens and Newman led the Bulldogs in hitting combining for five hits, four RBI, and three scored runs. Sam Rochard (L, 7-3) was issued the decision after 4.1 innings of work.


2024 NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team

1B – Trey Tarver, Arizona Christian

2B – JJ Cruz, Hope International (Calif.)

SS – David Rivera, Hope International (Calif.)

3B – Kane Kiunis, Arizona Christian

INF – Cristopher Munoz, Southeastern (Fla.)

C – Matty Mauer, Reinhardt (Ga.)

C – Charlie Muniz, Cumberlands (Ky.)

OF – Tucker Zdunich, Reinhardt (Ga.)

OF – Ajay Sczepkowski, Georgia Gwinnett

OF – Lance Dockery, Reinhardt (Ga.)

OF – Mason White, Indiana Southeast

DH – Dylan Lewis, Reinhardt (Ga.)

P – Trey Seele, Hope International (Calif.)

P – Brett Allen, Reinhardt (Ga.)

P – Blake Peyton, Tennessee Wesleyan

P – Andrew Herbert, Reinhardt (Ga.)

Most Valuable Player – JJ Cruz, Hope International (Calif.)

Charles Berry Hustle Award – Evan Magill, Tennessee Wesleyan

Gold Glove Award – David Rivera, Hope International (Calif.)

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