NGU punched its ticket to the Southeast Super Regional with back-to-back wins (11-5, 9-2) over Mount Olive last weekend at Ray and Bea Dillard Field at Ashmore Park.
“This team has already accomplished so much,” said Head Coach Landon Powell. “They were ranked No. 1 in the country during the preseason, and they stayed No. 1 all year long. We have a body of work that’s impressive, and hopefully they can keep that confidence and remember who they’ve been all year long during the Super Regional.”
The Southeast Regional opened with bang, as NGU’s John Michael Faile hit a three-run, walk-off home run to give his team a win over Georgia Southwestern State University, 6-5. The shot was the 76th career home run for Faile, who set the NCAA Division II record for home runs in a season with the walk-off.
“Other than us dog-piling last year to go to the World Series, that was probably one of the top moments we’ve ever had in Tigerville,” Powell said. “The kid has had an incredible career, and he’s an amazing person.”
NGU’s path to the Super Regional did not come with a little adversity. Following the win over Georgia Southwestern State, North Greenville dropped game one of a three game series against Mount Olive.
“The doubt was definitely creeping in,” said Powell, whose team had an early exit during the Conference Carolinas Tournament earlier this month. “But we bounced back and played our brand of baseball on Saturday. That’s the team I saw all year long.”
Powell credits Faile’s record-breaking home run for jump-starting the offense.
“It changed the mentality for our hitters,” he said. “We scored 28 runs in the next three games. Everybody got in on the action.”
Standing in the way of another College World Series appearance is a Belmont Abbey team NGU has seen plenty of times during Powell’s tenure.
“We’re very familiar with them,” he said. “These are two teams that know each other well. We’ve played each other a ton. They’ve been pitching against John Michael Faile for five years. He’s probably had 50 at-bats against them. We beat them two out of three times at their place this year, and they beat us in the conference tournament.”
The recent loss is not impacting Powell’s squad.
“If you told me, at the beginning of the year, that we had a three-game series against Belmont Abbey at our place to go to the World Series, we would take that,” Powell said. “Belmont Abbey is a very good team that we respect very much. It’s going to be a battle, but it’s one we’ll be ready for.”
The NCAA Division II Southeast Super Regional is set for May 26-27 at Ray and Bea Dillard Field at Ashmore Park. NGU needs two wins to advance to the College World Series in Cary, North Carolina. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-10. Children 3 and under can attend for free. All tickets are general admission and can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Visit nguathletics.com to follow the action live.