LEWISTON, Idaho -- The ninth-inning magic that kept the USC Beaufort baseball team's season alive throughout the NAIA Opening Round went against the Sand Sharks in their opening game of the Avista-NAIA World Series, as Rogers State (Okla.) rallied late for a 3-2 win Friday in a matchup of first-time participants.
Rogers State leadoff man Eric Baker delivered a two-run single to right in the ninth inning, and the Sand Sharks were unable to answer in the bottom of the inning. Eighth-seeded USCB fell into the elimination bracket and will face No. 5 seed Embry-Riddle in a matchup of Sun Conference opponents today at noon (Eastern).
The Sand Sharks (40-18) staked ace Michael Heesch to an early lead. Dylan Nasiatka tripled off the right field wall and Ty Main drove him in with a two-out double to give USCB a 1-0 lead in the first.
Heesch (9-3) made that margin hold up for most of the afternoon, but the Hillcats (46-14) finally broke through on Hector Rivera's RBI single in the eighth to tie it. Colton Campbell followed with a single to right, but Dom Hayes cut down Baker at the plate to preserve the tie.
USCB regained the lead on Main's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, but the Hillcats moved back in front with four singles in the ninth.
The Sand Sharks had two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Hillcats left-hander Shawn Spainhoward (10-2) retired the final two batters to end the threat.
Heesch had another strong outing, striking out 10 over 8 1-3 innings. He surrendered 13 hits -- all of them singles.
Spainhoward struck out four and walked three while allowing two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits in a complete game.
USCB's next opponent, Embry-Riddle, lost 17-3 to Tennessee Wesleyan in its opening game. The Sun Conference foes have met four times this season, with USCB taking two of three in a series at Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Eagles winning 3-1 to knock the Sand Sharks out of the conference tournament.
Left-hander Adam Miller is scheduled to start on the mound today for USCB.