MACON, Ga. — Second-seeded Middle Georgia State built a 5-0 lead after four innings and held on for a 9-6 win over the University of Rio Grande in the loser’s bracket final of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round’s Macon Bracket, Wednesday afternoon, at historic Luther Williams Field.
The 10th-ranked Knights improved to 42-15 with the win and advanced to the bracket’s championship game, where they suffered a 3-0 loss to top-ranked and top-seeded Southeastern (Fla.) University.
Third-seeded Rio Grande, which defeated Middle Georgia in its tourney opener, finished its season at 39-21 with the loss.
Middle Georgia State sandwiched a three-run third inning around single runs in the second and fourth innings for a commanding 5-0 lead.
Rio Grande countered with four unearned runs in the fourth inning to slice the deficit to one, but the Knights got two of the runs back in the bottom of the frame to make it 7-4.
Single markers in the seventh and eighth innings re-established Middle Georgia’s early five-run advantage, but the RedStorm refused go away quietly.
Rio scored twice in the ninth inning and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs, but Logan Carter retired senior David Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.) on a fly ball to centerfield to nail down the win.
MJ Rookard finished 4-for-4 with two runs batted in for Middle Georgia State, while Trent Nash was 3-for-5 and Jacob Durant had two hits and drove in three runs.
Gunner Sellers added two hits and a pair of RBIs for the Knights, Robbie Hanlon doubled and drove in two runs.
Alex Snider earned the win in relief for MGSU, allowing six hits and a pair of runs over four innings.
Carter picked up a save by recording the game’s final out.
Senior Pierce Knisley (Chillicothe, OH) started and took the loss for Rio Grande, allowing 12 hits and seven runs in six innings. The right-hander walked three and struck out six.
Junior Dylan Shockley (Minford, OH) went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs for the RedStorm, while senior Roanderson Severino (Reading, PA) also had two hits and drove in a pair of runs and freshman Gustavo Nava (Barranquilla, Columbia) finished 2-for-4.
The loss marked the final appearance in a Rio uniform for Shockley, Rodriguez, Knisley, Severino and fellow seniors Zach Harvey (Kenova, WV) and Michael Rodriguez (Santo Domingo, D.R.).
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.