Posted: May 3, 2013 1:17 PM
Updated: May 3, 2013 7:49 PM
SAINT JOSEPH, MO - Central Methodist got five outs Friday afternoon all on Rhett Quinlan strikeouts and finished off three-seed MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 8-0 at Phil Welch Stadium, advancing to the semifinals of the 2013 Heart of America Athletic Conference Baseball Championship Series Spring Classic. The Eagles face the winner of No. 4 Evangel (Mo.)/No. 5 Avila (Mo.) on Saturday.
The Eagles/Pioneers game was suspended Wednesday night due to lightning with Central Methodist (25-11) leading 8-0 and one out in the bottom of the eighth. After a 45-minute weather delay, the game was called that night, but NAIA rules stipulate all postseason games must go the full nine innings or remain suspended.
Quinlan threw the final inning and two-thirds Friday, allowing only one hit while striking out five, to eliminate MidAmerica Nazarene (24-20) from the postseason. He and Tyler Paule, who started the game Wednesday, continued Central Methodist's pitching dominance in the Spring Classic. Paule allowed only two hits in seven and one-third innings Wednesday to go along with eight strikeouts. Central Methodist has yet to allow a run in two Spring Classic games, outscoring Benedictine (Kan.) and the Pioneers a combined 14-0.
The Eagles were helped by five MidAmerica Nazarene errors Wednesday, starting in the top of the first inning when Mike Wagner scored the first run of the game on a misplayed grounder by the Pioneers' Dillon Moeller. The Green and Black added an insurance run in the same inning when Shane Lowe touched home on a fielder's choice.
After loading the bases in the second with two outs, Central Methodist opened up its advantage on a Ricco Moreno dropped fly ball. Mike Allen, Dustin Ray and Wagner all scored on the play to push the difference to five runs. Jesse Zellner followed in the next at-bat with a RBI single to center, plating Lowe to make the tally 6-0 in favor of the tournament's top seed.
A Kyle Poynter RBI single to left in the fifth gave the Green and Black a touchdown lead. Neil Hansen scored the game's final run in the sixth on a wild throw.
The tournament remains double elimination. All tournament games must be finished by 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
If the rest of the tournament has to be suspended, then Evangel claims the second automatic HAAC bid to the World Series. Central Methodist would win the Spring Classic by having the best tournament record.
If the tournament is able to be played, reaches the championship game and includes Central Methodist, then the Eagles' opponent gets the automatic berth to the World Series as per standard conference rules. If the tournament is able to be played, reaches the championship game but does not include Central Methodist, then the winner of the Spring Classic championship earns an automatic bid to the World Series as per standard conference rules.