SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – Joey Aquino was called in to relief in the biggest inning of his SDC career and delivered for the Hawks, as they defeated Davenport (Mich.) University 2-1 Tuesday to advance to the NAIA Opening Round Championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Aquino replaced San Diego Christian starter Mark Vasquez in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Aquino retired the next three batters to preserve the victory and earn the save via a fly out, pop out, and a fielder's choice.
Vasquez, in his eight innings, allowed 11 hits, one run, six walks and struck out four to earn the win.
The Panthers scored their only run in the game in the top of the first. Jordan Zlystra singled to shallow right-center to bring homer Derek Dennis. Davenport looked to add more but left the bases loaded.
San Diego Christian was held scoreless until the fifth inning, when the Hawks scored their only two runs of the game. Michael Stowers drew a walk with one out in the inning and then was pinch ran for by Cade Gotta. Chad Erickson also reached on base with a walk to give the Hawks runners on first and second. Jeff Lusardi then hit a bloop single into shallow left field to load the bases.
Lusardi tallied all four hits in the game for the Hawks. He went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double.
Peter Hoyt's at-bat delivered the two runs as he reached on base on a fielder's choice. At the crack of the bat, Gotta sprinted home to give the Hawks the first run. Dennis fielded the groundball and threw it to second baseman Zylstra to retire Richard Aguirre. But Zylstra's throw was not on target trying to convert the double play and Erickson came home to score on the throwing error to give San Diego Christian the 2-1 lead.
Vasquez only allowed one hit between the sixth and eighth innings before giving up two in the ninth before being relieved by Aquino.
With the win, San Diego Christian improves to 41-18 and increases their school record in wins. The Hawks are now one win away from reaching the 58th NAIA College World Series held in Lewiston, Idaho.
The Hawks will play the winner of Game 7 for the championship, which will include Davenport pinned against the winner of GSAC foe Vanguard and the University of British Columbia.
The title game is scheduled for 3 p.m.