Dale Long, Sports Information Director
LEWISTON, Idaho – The Georgia Gwinnett College baseball team will play for a national championship after defeating Faulkner University (Alabama) 15-10 late Wednesday at the 2021 Avista NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
The No. 5-seeded Grizzlies (50-10) are the only undefeated team in the double-elimination tournament. They will face No. 2 seed Central Methodist University (Missouri) in the championship round on Thursday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m. pacific time. GGC defeated the Eagles 9-3 on Tuesday.
One more victory would give the team its first baseball national title. If that win doesn’t come Thursday, both teams would play against on Friday, June 4, with the championship on the line.
An opportunistic offense and strong starting pitcher once again paved the way for GGC. A seven-run third inning helped the team build a 10-1 lead against Faulkner. SeniorKyle Harvey lined a two-run double to left field for a 5-1 advantage. Junior Nick Barnesconnected on a two-run home run and senior Griffin Keller added a run-scoring single during the productive inning.
Faulkner (40-12), the tournament’s No. 6 seed, got three runs back in the bottom of the third frame to cut the deficit to 10-4.
GGC kept adding to the scoreboard by pushing across two runs in the fifth inning with a two-run single from junior Gabe Howell. Sophomore Myles McKisic hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to give the team a 10-run lead, 14-4.
The Eagles rallied with six runs in the ninth inning to close the final gap.
Junior starting pitcher Kevin Kyle struck out nine batters across 8.1 innings to improve to 9-0 on the season.
The two teams combined for 30 hits and 25 runs. GGC accounted for 14 of those hits.
Harvey tallied three hits for the Grizzlies and drove in three runs. McKisic went 2-for-4 at the plate and scored three runs. Junior Austin Bates and freshman Chase Evans each collected two hits.
With the victory the Grizzlies achieved their 50th win of the season, marking the fifth time in program history they have reached the 50-win plateau.
“Kevin (Kyle) gave us a gutsy World Series performance on the mound,” said head coach Jeremy Sheetinger. “It sets us up perfectively moving forward. The third inning opened the door and we busted through it. We continue to do the same things offensively that we’ve done all season. We’ve been playing this way day-to-day and know we must create your own momentum. I’m very proud of how this group has bought into that approach. Each day presents new opportunities and another one comes (Thursday).”
The Grizzlies broke the game open with a seven-run third inning to build a 10-1 advantage. Two runs came home on a double from senior Kyle Harvey. Junior Nick Barnes connected on a two-run home run that extended the lead to 7-1. A run-scoring single from senior Griffin Keller followed during the big offensive inning.
Georgia Gwinnett College is scheduled to play No. 2 seed Central Methodist University (Missouri) on Thursday, June 3, at 6:30 p.m. PDT in a championship round game at the Avista NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. A victory would clinch the 2021 NAIA national championship.