GAME 8: Hill dominates on the hill for Grizzlies

May 26—In the NAIA World Series version of David vs. Goliath, 10th-seeded Indiana Southeast squared off against second-seeded Georgia Gwinnett.

Defying the typical underdog story, the overpowering favorite, known as the Goliath, emerged victorious on Saturday night in front of 1,615 fans at Harris Field in Lewiston.

The Grizzlies defeated the Grenadiers 7-3 in a winner's bracket game on Day 2 of the Series.

Georgia Gwinnett (52-7) will play sixth-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan at 6:35 p.m. Monday at the same site. The Grenadiers (37-19) will face fourth-seeded Hope International at 11:35 a.m. in a loser-out game.

"I'm just super proud of my guys," Georgia Gwinnett coach Jeremy Sheetinger said. "Fired up to be 1-0, I thought we did an awesome job. ... Our offense did a great job allowing us to separate and breathe a little bit, and again, really super proud of our effort tonight."

A dominant defensive day

Georgia Gwinnett got off to a fast start. It walked Indiana Southeast leadoff hitter Collin Long, but then quickly recorded two outs.

Grizzlies pitcher Kaleb Hill struck out the Grenadiers' home run leader, Mason White, then induced a double play with a lineout to first base and a tagout at the bag.

Georgia Gwinnett's defense maintained its dominant performance, retiring the side in order during the top of the second inning.

In the top of the third, the pitcher recorded his third and fourth strikeouts, capping a dominant nine-up, nine-down outing by Hill.

Indiana Southeast threatened to end the scoring drought in the top of the fourth. Hill walked White, and an infield error allowed Luke Powell to reach first base. However, the Grizzlies' ace escaped the jam unscathed with a lineout and a popout to end the inning.

Dominant on the mound, Hill delivered an excellent complete-game performance, surrendering just two earned runs on four hits while striking out nine batters. He carried a no-hit bid into the fifth inning before Logan Murphy recorded a single.

The pitcher struck out the final three batters to secure the win.

"That's who he's been all season," Sheetinger said. "That's exactly why we chose him to pitch game one. ... He's one of the most even-keeled dudes I've ever coached, especially on the mound. He was exactly what we wanted in this game, and we knew if we gave him the ball and rode it, we'd be sitting at 1-0."

A slow start, but a fast finish

Georgia Gwinnett's offense, which averaged 13 runs and five stolen bases per game, took a while to heat up.

The Grizzlies scored the game's opening run in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Ajay Sczepkowski sparked the rally with a single and a head-first dive into first base. He then swiped second during Henry Daniels' at-bat.

With a well-placed sacrifice bunt from Jackson Cobb, Sczepkowski sprinted home and scored when Grenadiers' catcher Murphy mishandled the ball, giving the Grizzlies an early 1-0 lead.

Daniels' ground out in the later part of the inning increased Georgia Gwinnett's lead to 2-0, and Joe Quelch's RBI single further bolstered the team's advantage to 3-0.

The Grizzlies' rakes proved unstoppable once they pulled them out of the shed.

In the bottom of the fifth inning with one out, Matthew Lee blasted a shot that ricocheted off the center-field wall, falling just short of the moon for a double.

Braxton Meguiar's RBI single in his next at-bat increased the score to 4-0.

"It took us three innings to kind of figure out we're in Lewiston," Sheetinger said. "We all took a deep breath in the dugout together; we got back to playing our brand of baseball, and now I think we got our cleats in the dirt; we're ready to rock and roll."

Sczepkowski's deep foul ball threatened to extend Georgia Gwinnett's lead, but Connor Sims struck him out on the next pitch, limiting the damage to just one run and ending the inning.

Sims' night came to an end after five innings on the bump. He allowed four runs on six hits and struck out seven.

A near comeback

Indiana Southeast ended its scoring drought in the bottom of the seventh inning following an RBI double from Murphy, who advanced to third on the throw from the outfield.

A fielder's choice allowed another run to score, and an error enabled Slater Schield to advance to second base, bringing the score to 4-2. That's as close as Indiana Southeast got the rest of the way.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Georgia Gwinnett crushed the Grenadiers' comeback hopes. The highlight was a double by Blaze O'Saben, who executed a spectacular move to evade the Indiana Southeast second baseman.

Wary of Sczepkowski's powerful bat, the Grenadiers intentionally walked him, loading the bases.

In the following two plate appearances, Daniels struck out, but Cobb responded with an RBI single for the final 5-2 margin.

"We talk about that a lot," Sheetinger said. "The toughest team wins, and I think you can manage another team run, and we expected them to score at some point. But it's about how you respond the next time you're in the dugout, and this is easily the toughest group I've had."

Pixley may be contacted at (208) 848-2290, or on Twitter @TreebTalks.


Georgia Gwinnett 5

Indiana Southeast 2


Georgia Gwinnett pitcher KALEB HILL pitched a complete game and struck out nine.

Georgia Gwinnett catcher MATTHEW LEE was 3-for-4 at the plate.

Indiana Southeast catcher LOGAN MURPHY was 2-for-4 at the plate.


"He's a hard worker. He's one of the hardest-working catchers I've ever seen. He's a pro catcher in my eyes. I love the way he talks to you; he gives you feedback; he loves to pump you up, and he loves to keep you humble too, which a pitcher needs sometimes."

— Georgia Gwinnett pitcher Kaleb Hill on his relationship with catcher Matthew Lee