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Homer’s Mose Hayes mows and Chugiak’s Justin Nevells rakes at NAIA tournament

by | May 15, 2024 | Baseball, Cover Story

Mose Hays and Justin Nevells

Alaskans put in some serious yard work Tuesday in the opening round of the NAIA baseball tournament after Homer’s Mose Hayes mowed down batters for Faulkner (Ala.) and Chugiak’s Justin Nevells continued to rake for Doane (Neb).

Hayes pitched into the ninth inning to spearhead a 6-3 win over nationally ranked Georgia Gwinnett that moved Faulkner within one game of reaching the NAIA World Series while Nevells banged out base hits in all three tournament games for Doane, which was eliminated after losing to Mount Mercy 5-3 in an elimination game.

Hayes’ 122-pitch masterpiece saw him throw six shutout frames and scatter eight hits over 8.1 innings as the right-hander shut down the No. 2-ranked team in the country.

He retired 10 straight batters across the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. After giving up two runs in the sixth, Hays came back with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth.

Hayes matched his season-high with nine strikeouts and fanned the final batter in the first, second, third, fourth and sixth innings. He was in total command.

It’s been a consistent theme this season as Hayes has posted a 7-1 record and 3.65 ERA in 14 appearances. Of his nine starts, he finished two of them and racked up 62 Ks in 69 innings.

Opponents hit just .239 off Mose Hayes. Photo by Katie Beth McCarthy

Hayes was coming off a complete-game effort in a 5-1 win over Mobile. He threw 112 pitches in nine innings.

Faulkner (37-15) will play Georgia Gwinnett again on Wednesday for a chance to go to the NAIA World Series in a matchup between the 2013 national champions (Faulkner) and 2021 champs (Gwinnett).

A year ago, Nevells narrowly missed his chance after Doane was eliminated on the final day of pool play. The Tigers (39-15) came up just short again Tuesday with a loss in consolation bracket.

Nevells, a junior third baseman, hit cleanup for Doane and batted .417 in three tournament games on 5-of-12 hitting with a double, triple, two walks, three runs and five RBIs.

Nevells batted .349 in 53 games this year on 61-of-175 hitting with a career-high 19 doubles. His 61 hits rank No. 10 on Alaska’s single-season college list, one behind Yavapai’s Tim Stanley of Anchorage who had 62 hits in 1985.

Alaska’s single-season college hits record is 86 set in 2018 by Mesa’s Paul Steffensen of Kenai. Steffensen also owns the career hits record (251).

With 178 career hits, Nevells has a chance to challenge Steffensen’s record. Nevells is currently tied with LeTourneau’s Damon Stokes of Anchorage for seventh all-time, one behind Kodiak’s Cliff Anderson, who banged out 179 hits at Southwestern and Chapman from 1989 to 1992.

Justin Nevells is a career .331 hitter in 186 college games. Photo courtesy of Doane University

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