Third baseman hits three home runs, including grand slam, in win over Spring Arbor
June 1, 2007
LEWISTON, Idaho – Third baseman Beau Mills enjoyed a remarkable day by hitting three home runs and driving in eight runs to help the Lewis-Clark State College baseball team to its 15th Avista NAIA World Series title by defeating Spring Arbor University 9-2 at LCSC’s Harris Field on Thursday night.
Mills, who was named the NAIA’s Player of the Year earlier in the day, also earned the tournament’s MVP award after hitting .444 in the Warriors’ five games and driving in 10 runs.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, who is expected to be taken in the first round of the Major League Draft next week, also set the NAIA single-season home run mark at 38, snapping the old mark of 37 held by Mike Maggers of Mary Hardin-Baylor, who accomplished the feat in 1992.
Mills hit a three-run blast in the first inning and a grand-slam homer in the fourth, both off of Spring Arbor starter Colin O’Connell (6-1). He added a solo shot in the sixth inning for his third three-home run game of the season.
“It feels amazing,” Mills said after the game while signing autographs. “It all happened so fast out there. I got lucky today but it feels great, especially to have this happen in this great city and before these great fans.”
The victory helped LCSC (58-5) repeat as NAIA champions and give coach Ed Cheff his 15th title in his 31-year career. The 15 titles are by far and away the most in NAIA baseball as Grand Canyon is second with four titles.
It was the Warriors’ fifth title in the 2000s and the 19th time in the last 26 years the program has played in the national championship game.
Mills wasn’t the only hero on the night. Senior right-handed pitcher Mike Miller held Spring Arbor (48-5) in check on four hits through seven innings. The Cougars did put up two runs in the eighth, but Miller finished with six strikeouts over eight innings. Brian Parker pitched the ninth and allowed one hit, but struck out two.
“I knew if I could get in a groove then we’d have a good chance to win the game,” Miller said. “I told myself, every moment was a zero-zero moment.”
The Warriors wasted little time in taking control of the game. Mark Thompson doubled down the right-field line on O’Connell’s first pitch and Brent Wyatt followed with a single. O’Connell then worked the count to 2-2 on Mills before the slugger hit the ball out to the deepest part of center field to tie the single-season home run mark.
With a man on first and two outs in the fourth, Thompson was hit by a pitch and Wyatt singled to right to load the bases. This time, Mills took the first offering from O’Connell and put it over the right-field wall and put LCSC ahead 7-0.
LCSC put up single runs in the fifth and sixth inning for a 9-0 lead. With one out, Kyle Greene singled and went to second on a wild pitch. After Zach Evangelho singled Greene to third, Thompson hit an RBI single to center.
In the sixth, Mills led off the inning with a towering solo home run to right field. It marked the second time this season Mills tied the school record for most RBI in a game with eight.
“I’ve never played with anyone like him – never ever seen anyone like him,” Miller said of Mills.
Spring Arbor, which lost to LCSC 7-0 earlier in the tournament on Matt Fitts’ two-hitter, finally broke a string of 16 consecutive scoreless innings against the Warrior pitching staff with the two runs in the eighth. Lucas Rider started the rally with a double, and with two outs, Jon Schaible singled him to third. Jesse Bachman followed with a two-run double to left-center, but Bradley Baker grounded out to end the threat.
Thompson, Wyatt and Mills, the Warriors Nos. 1-3 hitters, finished 7-for-11 in the game with nine RBI and seven runs scored. Thompson was 2-for-2 with two runs scored and an RBI, while Wyatt was 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Evangelho finished 4-for-4 with a run scored, while Ikaika Lester was 2-for-3.
Schaible went 3-for-4 with a run scored to pace Spring Arbor, which placed second baseman Jesse Bachman and pitcher Brad Hinkle on the All-Tournament Team.
Mills was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Lester as the fifth infielder, Jessie Mier as catcher, Jesse Roehl in the outfield, and Morgan and Fitts as pitchers.
Mills also helped LCSC sweep the individual awards. Evangelho won the NAIA Charles Hustle Award, while Mark Thompson, LCSC’s shortstop, won the Golden Glove Award.
The second-place finish is the best in program history for Spring Arbor, which was making its fourth appearance in the Series. In its three previous appearances, Spring Arbor went 1-6.
2007 Avista NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team:
3rd base – Beau Mills, Lewis-Clark State
Catcher – Jessie Mier, Lewis-Clark State.
Pitcher – Will Morgan, Lewis-Clark State.
Pitcher – Matt Fitts, Lewis-Clark State.
Golden Glove Award – Mark Thompson, Lewis-Clark State.
MVP – Beau Mills, Lewis-Clark State.