MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Top-seeded Faulkner (49-10) tallied the first shutout of the Montgomery Bracket with a 3-0 decision over third-seeded Huntington (34-12) and claimed the first spot in the championship round in the process, but it was the phenomenal pitching performance from Eagle starter Ivan Pelaez that really stole the show. The senior fanned 15 batters, just two shy of tying the Opening Round record, and allowed just three hits over 8 1/3 innings in the win.
Ryan Rosa drove in Faulkner's first run of the game in the top of the second inning, but a pitcher's dual prevented further scoring until the seventh.
L.D. Coney then ripped an RBI triple off the center field wall in the ninth inning capping the Eagles' scoring for the afternoon.
Pelaez was the best he's been all year. After giving up a single against the first batter he faced the left-hander found his rhythm and wrecked havoc on the Forester offense.
Huntington's Michael Crowley did finally deliver a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Pelaez quickly forced a pop out and iced the final two batters bringing any new-found Huntington momentum to a grinding halt.
After 8 1/3 incredible innings, Peleaz gained relief from closer Jonathan Wilkins who tallied a strikeout and forced a ground out.
Forester starter DJ Moore surrendered one earned run on six hits he scattered over 6 1/3 innings in the loss.
Montezuma was 3-for-4 in the game and was the only player on the field with multiple hits.
Huntington will next take on the winner of tonight's elimination battle between Truett McConnell and Cumberlands. That matchup will take place tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.
Faulkner advances to the championship round set for 5:30 p.m. tomorrow with the opponent yet to be determined. An Eagle win would clinch the Montgomery Bracket title and punch Faulkner's ticket to the Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho, beginning late next week. A loss would force an if-necessary game which would be held Thursday at 2 p.m.