As Logan Haring, a senior Central Methodist, left Harris Field for the last time, he placed his crampons next to the first baseman sack where he has spent so much time in his last five games as an Eagle.
He wouldn’t wear them anymore.
The dark scene marked the foreground against Georgia Gwinnett’s players celebrating their first NAIA World Series Championship in the infield. The Grizzlies beat CMU 8-4 on Thursday to win the crown.
For CMU, the appreciation of a 49-8 season and second place on the NAIA’s biggest stage probably won’t come for at least a few days.
“At the moment it’s hard for these young men to understand, but here in a few days, a week, they will realize how really great it is and how great the season has been,” said the CMU coach Nate Breland. “But right now it’s just a tough time for the guys – you’re finishing the season and your dream of winning the national championship.”
Haring and Breland, holding the gargantuan NAIA second-place trophy, were the last Eagles to leave the dugout. The coach and player shared an emotional hug and Breland then presented the trophy to his fifth-year leader.
“Logan is like a son to me,” Breland said. “This is my only five-year-old that I had in my program. Logan has been every step of the way from a dream to get to Lewiston and win the opening heats and championships.
“This program was very bad years ago and it has been absolutely the biggest piece and the biggest base to get us here.”
The second-seeded Eagles were rookies in this year’s series, but it barely showed in a race that included wins over powerhouse Faulkner and host Lewis-Clark State.
Fearing his team were “too focused,” Breland told his players to relax before their first 11-5 win over Southeast Indiana University.
So, the game’s warm-ups included sporadic cheers and playful taunts to teammates who lined up balls on the ground and a hype circle to stimulate the players. A few players even threw a soccer ball.
The chilly atmosphere set the stage for their 3-2 run through the series, with both losses coming to the champions.
In the final, Grizzlies ace Hunter Dollander and a Gwinnett formation who racked up 15 hits proved too difficult to overcome.
CMU scored all four points in the eighth inning, already down 8-0. But even in this setting, two CMU races came on errors and the Eagles left three runners on base.
Haring had two hits and a point to lead the CMU, which also had three hits from third baseman Grant Victor.
“We weren’t always the most talented bunch,” Breland said of his crew, “but damn it these guys fought for each other and did whatever it took to make it happen. get there. “
Perhaps the greatest moment of the Eagles tournament was their 4-3 victory over Faulkner in a 12 marathon match that ended just before midnight on Monday.
Relief pitcher and clutch shortstop Sergio Macias struck out the last two batters.
Players like Haring and Macias, who had 10 hits in the tournament, were on the CMU senior roster.
But Breland said this year’s Eagles have set the stage for what they hope will be regular visits to Lewiston.
“I believe that whenever you can achieve something, it doesn’t become a dream anymore and it doesn’t become an expectation, but a real vision at this point,” said Breland. “So I really think these boys broke through barriers and opened doors that have now charted a path and a path for my future teams.”