KINGSPORT, Tenn. - No. 3 seed Missouri Baptist needed 19 innings to pull out a 4-3 victory over top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan on Monday to win the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round - Kingsport Bracket.
The 19 innings is a record for longest game in an opening round game. The previous record was 11 innings. With the win, Missouri Baptist (35-12 overall) advances to the AVISITA-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. Tennessee Wesleyan ends the season at 45-18 overall.
Tennessee Wesleyan set an opening round record for most at bats by a team in a game with 68. The previous record was 62 by Oklahoma City vs. Jamestown (N.D.) and St. Thomas (Fla.) vs. Union (Ky.) with both achieving the mark on May 19, 2010. Missouri Baptist had 64 at bats.
The game nearly ended in regulation as Tennessee Wesleyan was down to its final out before mounting a two-out, two run rally. Joe Stropp put the Spartans up 3-1 in the seventh with a two-run home run. In the bottom of the ninth, Tennessee Wesleyan had no one on with two outs when Brackton Smith and Josh McCray lined back-to-back singles. An error allowed the first Bulldog run to score, Travis Burnside singled in pinch-runner David Donald to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Then the madness began. During the next nine innings, both teams had ample opportunities to score the go-ahead and/or the winning run. However, the teams combined to strand 18 runners. Missouri Baptist finally broke the deadlock in the 19th inning when it loaded the bases with one out and Garrett Vail lofted a sac fly to push the go-ahead run across. Tennessee Wesleyan got the tying run on in the bottom of the 19th as Jake Stone lined a one-out single. But the Bulldogs were unable to score, sealing the 4-3 win for the Spartans.