LEWISTON, Idaho — With Concordia University Irvine’s baseball team poised to play in the championship game at the 2011 Avista-NAIA World Series tonight, two former Brawley Union High graduates are ready for the challenge.
Shortstop Edgar Guillen and catcher Justin Baeza were both scheduled to receive degrees in exercise and sports science with emphasis in rehabilitation earlier but both missed Concordia’s graduation ceremony two weeks ago to play in the Super Regionals.
“I don’t know if it really hit me yet, probably it will hit me tomorrow when I take the field,” said Guillen, who has started every game this season. “It’s my last college game ... it’s the last game for everybody this year.”
Fifth-year senior Baeza is taking a different mental approach given that the No. 9 Eagles have had to win three straight elimination games, defeating the No. 2 Oklahoma City, 7-4, No. 3 Oklahoma Baptist, 7-5, and No. 4 LSU-Shreveport 8-4.
“Actually, it started to set in last night that this was the championship game, but you can’t think of it as that but that it’s just another game,” Baeza said. “We’re used to this, to being overlooked. It’s been this way all season and we’ve always had our backs against the ropes … we’re used to fighting back.”
Guillen credits the team’s title run to keeping the pressure off the Eagles pitching staff.
“We’ve been able to put up some runs early in the game and we play defensively like it’s a one-run game,” Guillen said. “Like we have to make the plays ... everything has been outstanding, we’ve been making the routine plays and the outstanding plays and we just feed off each other.”
Concordia becomes just the third Golden State Athletic Conference team in the 55-year history of the tournament to advance to the championship.
It will play either Lubbock Christian or Lee (Tenn.) at 7 p.m. tonight.