SEU Baseball Secures First NAIA National Championship
LEWISTON, Idaho — A team that started the 2018 season red hot finished it in the same manner.
Southeastern University (SEU) of Lakeland, Florida, won its first 21 contests of the year as well as its last eight, concluding the year with a 6-3 victory over Freed-Hardeman University Thursday evening to win the Avista-NAIA World Series held at Lewis-Clark State College’s Harris Field.
The national championship is the first NAIA title by an SEU Fire squad since joining the association in the fall of 2009.
"This is what we set up to do back in the fall. A lot of work by the coaching staff went into recruiting. These guys put in a lot of work on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom. To have it all come to fruition is a simply unbelievable feeling," shared head coach Adrian Dinkel.
The Fire went a perfect 8-0 in its NAIA National Tournament stay, defeating four former national champions along the way.
Southeastern (59-7) was making its first World Series appearance, and needed to shake off some early nerves as fellow first-timer Freed-Hardeman took a 1-0 lead in the first.
The Fire bats finally broke through in the top of the fourth, plating five runs, taking advantage of a pair of defensive miscues and two walks.
Freed-Hardeman (47-16) picked up two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit to two (5-3).
In the top of the eighth inning, Ivan Nunez's seventh homer and 50th RBI of the season gave the Fire a three-run advantage, and resulted in the game’s final score.
SEU centerfielder Manuel Mesa was named Most Valuable Player of the World Series, leading the tournament in hits with 13, runs scored (8), doubles (6), and total bases (21). He was also selected as the Charles Berry Hustle Award winner.
"I've never gotten something like this before but I did it and I worked hard for my team. I feel like I'm a part of a family here and I've never felt that way anywhere," commented Mesa.
Marvin Malone, Jonathan Bermudez, and Nunez all joined Mesa on the NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team.