Kennesaw State nationally ranked for first time
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Kennesaw State baseball team defeated Lipscomb 7-1 in Fort Myers, Fla…
Georgia (May 28, 2014) —
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Kennesaw State baseball team defeated Lipscomb 7-1 in Fort Myers, Fla., this week to claim its first Atlantic Sun Conference tournament title. The win earns the Owls an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament against Alabama in the first game of the Tallahassee Regional at noon Friday, May 30.
The win catapulted the Owls to No. 27 in the nation in the Collegiate Baseball poll. KSU (37-21), the only ranked A-Sun team as well as the highest ranked to come out of the state of Georgia, claimed 23 victories in its last 24 games during the regular season and conference tournament.
"It's a great feeling," head coach Mike Sansingsaid. "Our guys played well throughout the last six weeks. This tournament was just another stride in that. We're excited. It's just a lot of fun."
Brennan Morganwas named tournament MVP after going 9-for-14 with 7 RBIs in the tournament. He was 1-for-3 against Lipscomb with one RBI and scored two runs for the Owls.
"It's a true honor," Morgan said. "I had a pretty good week at the plate. Anybody in that lineup could have gotten it. The lineup up and down is unbelievable. Everybody came together and knows their role. Everything just came together."
The KSU fans got on their feet, and the Owls bats came alive in the bottom of the seventh inning to grab the lead for good. After back-to-back singles by Max Pentecostand Bo Way, Morgan found a hole on the left side of the infield to bring home Pentecost to give the Owls a 2-1 lead. Two batters later, Way would race home on a wild pitch where the Bisons where attempting to intentionally walk Matt Bahnick. Two pitches later, Bahnick ripped an RBI single to left to score Morgan and give the Owls a 4-1 lead.
The majority of the game was a pitching duel thanks to Jordan Hillyer, who got the start on short rest. He gave the Owls six strong innings on the mound, giving up just one run while surrendering five hits.
"Hillyer comes back on short rest and throws great," Sansing said. "He kept them to the one run. It was a huge effort by him to keep us right there, and then I thought James (Connell) threw extremely well. He was pumped up. Then, J-Mac (Justin McCalvin) is going to finish it out for us. It's great to have that luxury with those guys at the back end."
One of the key defensive plays in the game came in the first inning. With the Bisons threatening with a man on second and one out, Justin Motley, the winner of the KSU Championship belt, would end the Bisons' threat with a tremendous diving catch and then double up a Bisons runner at second base.
Lipscomb grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but didn't hold the lead for long when Motley once again came up big and crushed a solo home run to left field to tie the game at one in the bottom of the third inning.
James Connellwas lights out coming out of the bullpen, giving up just one hit in the seventh and eighth innings to pick up the win.
Chris McGowanadded a three-run triple off the right field wall in the bottom of the eighth to push the Owls lead to six runs.
Offensively, the Owls had 10 hits in the game. Pentecost and McGowan led the Owls with two hits apiece, while six different Owls collected a hit each.
Morgan, Bahnick, Pentecost, and Way were selected to the 2014 A-Sun All-Tournament Team for their outstanding performances in the tournament.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.