Murfreesboro, NC –
Brian Giles slammed a walk-off game winning single to right with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the North Greenville baseball team (41-14) defeat Southeastern University of Lakeland, Fla. 6-5 in the championship game of the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Conference (NCCAA) South Regional Tournament.
One of the Crusaders’ goals at the beginning of the season was to advance to the NCCAA National Tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio May 19-22 at Prasco Park. Coach Travis Henson had the number
‘427’ printed on all of NGU’s practice gear because that’s the distance from Tigerville, SC to Prasco Park. When asked after guiding his team to the regional title how far it was to Cincinnati, Henson smiled and said, “all season long, we’ve remembered that number, now we’ll get to make the trip for the first time. I’m extremely proud of these kids. They accomplished something no other NGU team has done, and they’ve worked so hard to continue to improve our program. Now, they get the reward for all the hard work.”
NGU opened the final game with hot bats once again as Anthony Foulk ripped a solo home run in the bottom of the first to put the Crusaders up 1-0. Foulk had a big day at the plate going 3-3 with two RBI’s, David Frazier was 2-4 and Derek Fulmer went knocked in two RBI’s as well. The Crusaders took a big 5-0 lead for starter Mike Benjamin into the sixth inning, but to the credit of Southeastern, they crept back to 5-4 in the sixth inning and tied the game with a bunt single, sacrifice and base hit in the top of the seventh inning.
Like they’ve done all year thought, North Greenville responded with a key hit in a crucial moment. Giles, who relieved Benjamin on the mound, in the sixth inning, gave up a three-run homer to allow Southeastern to get closer. He made up for it with two runners on and two outs showing on the scoreboard. He drove the walk off single to right center to seal the historical victory for NGU.
“We’ve got a new goal now,” Henson exclaimed. The second year head coach said that the Crusaders will head to the Cincinnati area with one thing on their mind – a national title. “We’re not done yet. We’ve got a lot of baseball left to play and if these guys hang together for one more week, we could bring home NGU’s first national championship. We’ve hit the ball well in clutch spots and have played flawless defense the last few weeks, so we’ll look forward to seeing what we can do next week.
NGU had defeated Chowan (NC) 6-5 and Southeastern 11-2 in the first rounds of the regionals.
The Crusaders will depart Tigerville Monday, May 17, driving that long anticipated 427 miles, to play in the NCCAA National Championship World Series at Prasco Park, the home of the Cincinnati Spikes minor league baseball club. The first games will be Wednesday, May 19, and the championship will be on Saturday, May 22. The seeds for the nationals will be available in the next few days.
Coach Travis Henson and the South Regional Champion Crusaders will smile for every one of those 427 miles!