FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The University of South Carolina Beaufort baseball team fell short of a Sun Conference tournament title Saturday, but the Sand Sharks extended their season by finishing as runner-up to top-seeded Embry-Riddle to earn a berth in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.
Sixth-seeded USCB was the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament heading into Saturday's games, but the sixth-ranked Eagles stormed through the loser's bracket to win three games on the day, including 5-0 and 2-1 victories over the Sand Sharks to claim the championship.
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead in the first game, scoring twice in the second and once in the third, and that proved to be enough for Jon Rapose (3-1), who tossed a seven-hit shutout to help Embry-Riddle preserve its bullpen for the finale.
Embry-Riddle tacked on single runs in the fifth and ninth, and the Sand Sharks could never mount a rally. Senior Miles Galvin (3-6), who shut out the Eagles for seven innings in Tuesday's 2-0 victory, pitched on short rest and was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) in four innings.
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Senior Matthew Graney got the nod for USCB in the finale and turned in one of the best performances of his career to keep the Sand Sharks in it. Graney (1-2) limited Embry-Riddle to two runs on eight hits over 6 1-3 innings, but the Sand Sharks' offense couldn't get going.
Left-hander Stetson Nelson (8-2) returned on short rest after pitching 10 scoreless innings against USCB on Tuesday and kept the Sand Sharks at bay for six innings. He allowed one unearned run on four hits and didn't issue a walk. Dylan Demarest pitched a scoreless inning and Antwan Brown worked two scoreless frames for the save.
Terry McClinton was 4 for 7 at the plate in the two games to lead USCB's offense. McClinton was named to the all-tournament team along with teammates Erik Armstrong and Kyle McCullough.
USCB will find out where it is headed for the Opening Round when the brackets are released Monday. The Opening Round will be played at nine sites from May 9-13, with the winners joining host Lewis-Clark State in the Avista-NAIA World Series from May 24-31 in Lewiston, Idaho.