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Central Alabama earns first Division I Baseball national championship
 June 2, 2013


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Central Alabama scored two runs in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh Saturday to defeat Palm Beach State (Fla.) for the 2013 NJCAA Division I Baseball National Championship. Following the 7-3 victory, the Trojans stormed Suplizio Field celebrating their first baseball title in school history.

Anchoring Central Alabama’s victory was freshman pitcher Paul Young who went the distance with a complete-game performance. In nine innings of work, Young (right) registered five strikeouts and held the Panthers to three runs – one unearned – on seven hits. The right-hander earned his second win of the World Series after making only five starts all season.

Sophomore catcher Blaine Miller led the Trojans offensively, going 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and three runs scored. Central Alabama sophomore center fielder Darius Reese continued his impressive offensive week, batting 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Trojan sophomore outfielder Bo Edwards and freshman shortstop Ryan Raspino each drove home a run as well.

Palm Beach State drew first blood with a sacrifice fly by sophomore infielder Ryan Church, scoring sophomore utility player Mike Stemle in the top of the first inning for an early 1-0 lead. The Trojans responded in the bottom of the second with an RBI double by Miller to tie the game. In the next at-bat, Raspino brought Miller home with an RBI single to put Central Alabama up, 2-1.

A fielding error by the Trojans in the top of the third inning allowed Stemle to score his second run of the night – tying the game up at 2-2. The Panthers regained the lead with a Church single, scoring freshman infielder Marcus Mooney for a 3-2 advantage. Central Alabama came right back to tie the game at 3-3 with a single through the left side by Edwards, scoring sophomore outfielder Zach Rinehart.

Following two scoreless innings, the Trojans got back on the board in the sixth when Miller scored on a wild pitch by Palm Beach State sophomore hurler Jose Lazaro – reclaiming the lead at 4-3. Lazaro’s struggles in the inning continued as a balk brought home Reese to give Central Alabama a 5-3 lead.

The Trojans tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh inning as Miller and Reese both recorded RBI singles to put Central Alabama on top, 7-3. Young closed the game out in the bottom of the ninth, retiring the side in order.

Reese (left) was tabbed Most Outstanding Player of the World Series after batting .552 (16-for-29) with two doubles and two triples in the tournament. The outfielder recorded four RBIs, five stolen bases and played solid defense across the week.

Reese and Miller were joined on the All-Tournament team by Central Alabama sophomore second baseman Ben Hall who had the game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th inning Friday against Cochise College (Ariz.). Trojans head coach Wynn Fletcher received the Bus Bergman Coach of the Tournament award after directing Central Alabama to a 43-14 overall record this season.

Starting the World Series with the same team they ended with, Central Alabama defeated Palm Beach State in the tournament opener, 6-4. The Trojans notched an 11-4 win over Midland College (Texas) and a 10-5 victory against Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) before falling to the Panthers in their second meeting of the tournament, 13-4.

Central Alabama’s chances looked dim Friday’s elimination game as they trailed Cochise 13-9 going into the bottom of the ninth. The Trojans rallied with four runs to force extra innings and claimed a 14-13 victory with Hall’s walk-off single in the 11th.

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