CHAMPION-- Stark County Terries, OH
RUNNER UP-- SAYO Grays, NY
BATTING CHAMPION-- Bryant Pena, SAYO Grays
MVP-- Benjamin Hymes, Stark County Terriers
Championship Game Final Score-- Stark County Terriers 13 SAYO Grays 10
2023 NABF College Division Champions – Stark County Terriers
SANDUSKY, Ohio — The SAYO Grays were battling the Firelands Freighters in the final pool game of the NABF College Division World Series, where the winner advanced to play in the championship. SAYO trailed 3-0 in the home half of the sixth, and they loaded the bases, where Michael Edwards unloaded on a Nick Palm 1-2 pitch over the right field wall for a monumental grand slam. Philip Dragovich retired the Freighters one-two-three to record the win, sending SAYO to the championship.
SAYO’s win completely changed everything as the Freighters dropped to 2-2, joining the Toledo Hawk for a third-place tie in the standings. Only one pool game remained between the Stark County Terriers and Sandtown Anglers. If Stark County won or Sandtown played spoiler, the Terriers would play in its fourth consecutive championship because of having the head-to-head tiebreaker over Toledo and Firelands.
The Terriers shut out the Anglers 4-0, the only one of the tournament, where Jacob Rollyson and Ian Millis combined to allow only three hits and struck out nine Sandtown hitters. So, the championship game featured a rematch of Game Four when SAYO won 8-2, backed by a strong 6 1/3 inning performance by Lucas Slesinski and two hits and three RBIs from Juan Perez.
Dragovich gave up two runs in the first on a Nathan Grega sacrifice fly and a Josh Dezenzo two-out double. SAYO responded for one in their half when Genesis Nunez brought home Josuel Santos with an RBI knock, making it 2-1 Terriers.
The scoring continued in the third with six coming around — four for Stark County and two for SAYO. Ty Williams, Aidan Grabowski, and Benjamin Hymes reached on three consecutive free passes, one walk, and two hit-by-pitches. Grega singled to the right side of the infield, which drove in Williams and Grabowski. Dezenzo then made it two RBIs with a sacrifice fly and Braden Broom singled home another, but the inning ended when Parker Varney was thrown out at home by SAYO.
In the home half, the Grays cut it to 6-3 by getting a pair of two-out runs via an RBI single by Bryant Pena and an Edward bases-loaded walk.
After Dragovich and Drew Becker, Terrier starter, combined to work 1 1/2 scoreless innings, SAYO evened it up at 6. Noel Medina walked with one out and later stole second base. Then, Edwards hit one toward Broom that the first baseman beat out, but Broom’s throw went past Varney into foul territory, allowing Medina to score. Stark County head coach Chris Willoughby replaced Becker with Griffin Ailes, who gave up a game-tying homer to Teonis Pimentel on only his third pitch.
The Terriers attempts to take the lead halted on 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 double plays in the sixth and seventh opening the door for the Grays. SAYO plated four runs on a double, triple, single, and throwing error by Pena, Pimentel, Marcel Garcia, and Varney, respectively, making it a 10-6 lead.
Stark County answered right back on a two-run home run from Hymes, trimming the deficit to two. After Ailes threw up a zero in the bottom of the eighth with help from his middle infielders Broom and Grabowski, turning an inning-ending double play, the Terriers had one last shot to remain champions.
Kenny Dominguez, who got the final out in the eighth, allowed five runs that began when Varney reached on a single, and Ty Sowers and Mason Stoldt joined him on back-to-back walks. Broom then lined a single, tying the game at 10. Two more came around on a Grabowski base hit, and Hymes put an exclamation point by collecting an RBI single but later got caught stealing home to end the frame.
Ailes retired the Grays in order and produced Kenny Scottborgh to line out to Stoldt in right field for the final out. Thus, the Terriers won their second consecutive NABF College World Series and improved to 2-2 in four championship appearances since 2019.
NABF College Division Director John Mengelkamp presented the Grays and Terriers with the runners-up and championship trophies. The All Tournament Team comprised 16 players, including Batting Champion — Pena —, who hit .545 with two doubles, three RBIs, and a 1.311 OPS, and MVP — Hymes —, who batted .533, drilled two home runs, drove in eight, and had a 1.650 OPS.
|Kenny Scottborgh||SAYO Grays||C|
|Logan Loeffler||Toledo Hawks||C|
|Bryant Pena||SAYO Grays||UTIL -- Batting Champion|
|Ted Wagner||Toleod Hawks||IF|
|Jake Baumgartner||Toledo Hawks||IF|
|Parker Varney||Stark County Terriers||IF|
|Michael Edwards||SAYO Grays||IF|
|Caden Lance||Firelands Freighters||IF|
|Benjamin Hymes||Stark County Terriers||OF -- MVP|
|Ty Williams||Stark County Terriers||OF|
|Teonis Pimentel||SAYO Grays||OF|
|Daniel Garcia||Sandtown Anglers||OF|
|Jacob Rollyson||Stark County Terriers||P|
|Anthony Warner||Stark County Terriers||P|
|Isaias Espiritusanto||SAYO Grays||P|
|William Nissen||Firelands Freighters||P|