KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The IU Southeast baseball team staved off elimination twice on Wednesday with two comeback wins to force a deciding championship game of the NAIA Opening Round-Kingsport Bracket on Thursday at noon.
IU Southeast (48-14) trailed 5-0 against Tennessee Wesleyan before scoring six runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead.
The Bulldogs (41-20) loaded the bases in the top of the 8th and tied the game on a wild pitch from Gage Rogers.
IU Southeast bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the frame when Rodriguez led off with a triple. He scored when shortstop Edwin Bonilla misplayed a grounder off the bat of Leenknecht. Cody Maloon hit a two-run double later in the inning to give the Grenadiers valuable breathing room at 9-6.
Chase Vanek held on for the save as he surrendered a two-run home run to Alfred Cruz but got Alex Balter to strike out looking and Pedro Barrios to fly out to center to end the game.
IU Southeast advanced to the championship series to face Keiser University.
The fifth-ranked Seahawks led 3-0 after scoring three runs in the top of the first. The score would remain the same until the fifth inning when IU Southeast took the lead for the first time.
Hector Marmol hit a two-run single to cut the lead in half. Tanner Leenknecht followed with an RBI single to tie the game and then Cody Maloon hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Marmol and give IU Southeast a 4-3 lead.
The Seahawks (41-19) scored a pair of runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead. IU Southeast started the top of the 9th with a single from Josh Beams but Rodriguez grounded into a 4-3 double play to erase him.
The Seahawks got a runner to second with one out but an intentional walk to Keivan Berges and a 4-6-3 double play erased the threat and forced extra innings.
Trever Huth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning. He worked the final two innings of the contest to earn his third win.
The Grenadiers and Seahawks will meet in the "if necessary" game of the championship series Thursday at noon. Both schools are looking to advance to the NAIA World Series for the first time.