LEWISTON, Idaho – Tennessee Wesleyan is wearing Avista NAIA World Series caps for the second time after winning Friday night’s championship game with a 6-2 victory over St. Thomas.
The Bulldogs used a steady night at the plate and a strong 6.1 innings from Cole Bellair to notch their second title since winning it all in 2012. For St. Thomas, it was a second title game appearance and a second loss.
TWU’s title packed more than the normal emotion of winning a championship. The Bulldogs play for Neyland Pickel, an eight-year-old who is in his third battle with cancer.
“We played for each other,” second baseman Bryce Giles said. “We played for everybody in the stands. We played for our coaching staff. Most importantly, we played for Neyland. That was the biggest thing.”
It could be said that Neyland was the first TWU player on the field when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to open the game before an enthusiastic crowd of 2,390. While TWU didn’t overpower or overwhelm St. Thomas, its steady, consistent play kept the Bobcats at bay throughout.
“Oh my,” Giles said, “that was incredible. Guys staying with it. It wasn’t a selfish thing.”
The Bulldogs scattered their six runs over the first six innings with Braden Mosley driving in two – one on a first-inning single and the other on a sacrifice fly in the third, to give TWU a 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs added two more in the fourth. The first came when Adrian Marquez, pinch running for Shamoy Christopher, scored from first when a pickoff attempt rolled into right field. Jhosmel Rodriguez’s double to center scored Aloysius Cruz for the 4-0 lead.
One more run in the fifth and another in the sixth wrapped up the TWU scoring. For St. Thomas, its only scores were solo home runs – one from Chris Garabedian and the other from Joey Thompson.
TWU committed just one error, while collecting eight hits. Bellair, who had relief help from Jerry Ochoa and Irving Martin, improved to 13-2 and is one of four pitchers on the all-tournament team. Joining him in earning tournament honors are Giles as the Most Valuable Player and the Charles Hustle Award winner, and Gold Glove winner centerfielder Tyler Reichenborn. Catcher Shamoy Christopher also was recognized as was leftfielder Braden Mosley.
St. Thomas had four errors and six hits, and used four pitchers in trying to take the momentum from the Bulldogs. Garabedian, the first baseman, earned all-tournament honors along with pitcher Orlando Rodriguez and catcher Daniel Mondejar.
2019 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series – Award Winners
Most Valuable Player – Bryce Giles, Tennessee Wesleyan
Charles Berry Hustle Award – Bryce Giles, Tennessee Wesleyan
Gold Glove Award – Tyler Reichenborn, Tennessee Wesleyan
1B – Chris Garabedian, St. Thomas (Fla.)
2B – Bryce Giles, Tennessee Wesleyan
3B – Miguel Lorenzo, Science & Arts (Okla.)
SS – P.J. Garcia, Science & Arts (Okla.)
INF – Coleton Horner, Science & Arts (Okla.)
C – Shamoy Christopher, Tennessee Wesleyan
C – Daniel Mondejar, St Thomas (Fla.)
OF – Tyler Reichenborn, Tennessee Wesleyan
OF – Braden Mosley, Tennessee Wesleyan
OF – Mike Taylor Jr., Southeastern (Fla.)
OF – Manuel Mesa, Southeastern (Fla.)
DH – Alex Sanchez, Science & Arts (Okla.)
P – Orlando Rodriguez, St. Thomas
P – Colton Williams, Science & Arts (Okla.)
P – Cole Bellair, Tennessee Wesleyan
P – Ricardo Velez, Science & Arts (Okla.)