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AUSTIN, May 12, 2014— The record-breaking season for the LeTourneau University baseball team added another chapter to the lore with a 6-4 win over Concordia in the finals of the American Southwest Conference Baseball Championship Tournament in Austin.
The YellowJackets (32-13) were making their first-tournament appearance, relied on the strength of solid pitching from senior Curt Copeland and a nine-hit attack that saw six-different players record a hit.
The Tornados (31-14) withstood elimination twice after dropping an earlier meeting in the tournament to LeTourneau.
With the win, LeTourneau secures an automatic bid into the 2014 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship Tournament for the first-ever berth for the YellowJackets.
“This is the biggest win in LeTourneau history,” said head coach Robin Harriss. “The guys came out and played great. We came out a bit nervous, yesterday and overcame that hurdle, today. It is a tremendous day for our club and our University.”
Copeland, who has been the ace of the LeTourneau staff for the last two years, got the starting nod. The senior answered the challenge with a 6.2 inning performance, allowing seven hits, three runs – all earned and struck out en route to the win to improve to 8-2. For his efforts on Sunday as well as earlier in the tournament opener against Louisiana College, he was selected the Tournament MVP.
In relief of Copeland, juniors Justin Jenkins got a strikeout to end the seventh before handing the ball off to junior Cody Whitley, who pitched the final two innings, allowed three hits and an earned run to pick up his first save of the season.
LeTourneau scored three times in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. In the inning, the YellowJackets capitalized on an errant pickoff attempt that set the stage for the rest of the inning. Sophomore Sean Sellers had his first of three hits, scoring junior Caleb Pritchett from third, which had earlier in the inning reached on a walk. A RBI single by graduate student Garrett Methvin scored Bryce Griffin from second, who had reached by a hit by pitch earlier. The third run came in on a Ryan Bertram fielder’s choice to score Sellers.
The YellowJackets added to their lead when they capitalized on an error and a RBI double down the left-field line by Sellers in the fifth for a 5-0 lead in the fourth. LeTourneau added to its lead in the fifth when they scored on a fielder’s choice as Chris Bertram drove in Dillon Yates to take a 6-0 lead.
A two-RBI single by Brent Schaekel and a RBI single by Brandon Hollier ended the afternoon for Copeland as the Tornados cut the YellowJacket lead to 6-3 in the seventh. Then, Harriss went to Justin Jenkins out of the bullpen that got a strikeout to end the rally for Concordia.
In the eighth inning, Concordia mounted another threat with back-to-back one out doubles to cut the deficit to two. Then, Whitley got the second out of the inning on a pop out. With two out, Yates bobbled a pitch by Whitley behind the plate. The sophomore scooped up the loose ball and caught Hutton attempting to steal third to end the inning.
Whitley started the ninth with back-to-back strikeouts before Schaekel reached on an infield single. Then, Hollier grounded to Bryce Griffin at shortstop, which made a diving stop and he made the flip to freshman Kyle Jacobs at second to end the game.
LeTourneau was well represented on the All-Tournament Team including Dillon Yates at catcher, Garrett Methvin at first base, Bryce Griffin at shortstop, Sean Sellers at outfield, Cody Whitley as pitcher and Curt Copeland as the Tournament MVP.
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