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Baseball - Sat, May 27, 2017 - posted by Seth Preuss
Brandon Gonzalez launched his second homer at the World Series against Keiser (Photo by Dale Grosbach)
Brandon Gonzalez launched his second homer at the World Series against Keiser (Photo by Dale Grosbach)
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(RV)Hope International
(5)Keiser University

LEWISTON, ID – (RV) Hope International played its second game of the 2017 Avista NAIA World Series on May 27 at 12:00 pm. The Royals ran into the strong starting arm of the No. 5 Keiser Seahawks (FL) pitcher and did not play their best defensive game of the year which ultimately resulted in HIU falling 8-5 and ending the season with a loss.

Dominic Potlongo (SO/Placentia, CA) got the start for HIU and lasted only three and two thirds for the Royals before getting the hook – Potlongo gave up five runs on 10 hits and struck out two before exiting in the fourth. Josh Steele (SO/Brea, CA) finished the fourth and worked one and a third while allowing a run on a walk and two hits before being lifted for Dylan Hoffman (SO/Anaheim Hills, CA).

Hoffman pitched a clean sixth for HIU before giving way to Justin Moulds (SR/Huntington Beach, CA) in the seventh. Moulds allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of work and Jeff Schwartz (JR/Ventura, CA) worked the first third of the eight for HIU before being lifted for Chris Dixon (SO/Cypress, CA). Dixon got the final two outs of the inning to help HIU escape the eighth unscathed.

The Royals chased KU from start to finish after surrendering the first run of the game in the opening frame – a double from Sean David Clark (SR/Redding, CA) in the third was cashed in for a run after a double by Cameron Baranek (JR/Orange, CA) to tie the game at 1-1 after two and a half innings.

Keiser's bats did most of the talking after the Royals' two doubles as the Seahawks plated five unanswered to take a 6-1 lead after five full frames. HIU plated two in the top of the sixth to stem the tide after Brett Thompson (SR/Newport Beach, CA) got on with a double and Brandon Gonzalez (SO/Orange, CA) mashed a solo shot to right field, but the Royals would give both runs back in the seventh to trail 8-3.

A massive solo shot by Jose Tejeda (SO/Avalon, CA) to lead off the eighth put HIU back within striking distance, but the Royals were unable to generate any other offense in the frame to follow Tejeda's moon shot to left field.

HIU escaped a jam in the eighth after Dixon pitched a pair of outs for HIU to give the Royals a shot at tying or taking the lead. HIU entered the ninth trailing by four and put two runners aboard with no outs to start the inning after Jeff Murray (JR/La Mirada, CA) drew a walk and Will Davis (FR/Anaheim, CA) knocked a single into left field. A blown double play opportunity advanced both runners and a sac fly scored a run from third to make it 8-5. HIU would load the bases with a single by Devan Schermerhorn (SR/Lakewood, CA) and a walk from Tejeda, but a swinging strikeout ended the ball game and the Royals' season with the 8-5 final.

After the game, second-year skipper Erich Pfohl shared his thoughts on the World Series appearance, saying, "We had talked [as a team] about the term Cinderella, and I don't know that it was a Cinderella season – I think everyone, from coaches and administrators to certainly the players, expected a season like this."

In the opinion of Coach Pfohl, "this [year] was just special – as special as anything I've been a part of a baseball program and I couldn't be more thankful for everything that [everyone in the program] has done for us … It's never fun when it comes to an end, but we were happy to be a part of the World Series and we certainly hope to be back here, hopefully for many years to come and with a better outcome."

The Royals set a number of new career marks and season bests over the course of the second year, including their first conference title, their first NAIA Opening Round Championship, and the result of that Championship, a trip to Lewiston. HIU finishes its second season with a 9-6 record against teams in the NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll, including a 6-2 record against teams in the Top 10. The Royals also managed an impressive 21-6 record on their home field and witnessed the first no-hitter in program history pitched by George Castillo (JR/Lakewood, CA) on Mar. 11 at Valencia HS, the Royals' home field.

HIU says goodbye to its eight seniors on the 2017 roster – Clark, Schermerhorn, Moulds, Thompson, Sam Weaver (SR/Castro Valley, CA), Brandon Conlin (SR/Norco, CA), Justin Broussard (SR/Upland, CA), and D.J. Batuyong (JR/Anaheim, CA)  all move on to their next challenges in life. The Royals had ten fewer losses in their second season and fourteen more wins, pushing them to a 56-46-1 program record since the Royals threw their first pitch on Jan. 22, 2016.

Stayed tuned to our website and social media feeds in the coming weeks for more Royals baseball info and a full season recap, and again, thanks to all our fans, faculty, administrators, and staff for their support during this stellar second season.

 
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