It took nine innings to win a game for the Samford baseball team. It took 27 innings to win a championship.

Samford began play on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET and finished up just short of 10 hours later. During that time, the Bulldogs beat UNC Greensboro, 9-5, in an elimination game, forced a final game with a 7-2 championship round win over Wofford and finished things off with a 5-2 title game triumph over Wofford.

All that was left after that was a celebration worthy of adding another title to the resume of the SoCon regular season champions.

“It’s indescribable, it really is,” said Samford coach Tony David, who spent 17 seasons as a Bulldog assistant coach and is in his second year as the program’s head coach.

Championships aren’t won, especially this way, without contributions throughout the lineup. Offensively, the Bulldogs received clutch hitting from top to bottom in the lineup. On the mound, Jacob Cravey closed out the championship game with a final inning save in his lone relief appearance this season, closer Ben Petschke was clutch in the final two games, and the regular Sunday starter Will Lynch opened the day with a quality start.

But it was a pair of unexpected heroes – starting pitchers Jacob Newman and Heather Clevenger -  who stole the spotlight. Newman pitched six shutout innings in the first game against Wofford. He allowed three hits while striking out two and walking one. Clevenger pitched 6.2 innings in the final game, allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out four and walking two.

“Undoubtedly the story of the day was Newman and Clevenger,” David said. “Newman was good down the stretch for us on Tuesdays. He had a little setback and was out for a couple of weeks. Clevenger waited his turn all year. When he pitched, he had a little success. He was the guy who was going to pitch those last two Tuesdays (against UAB and Auburn) that got rained out. Going seven innings, or whatever the total was, on championship day, in the third game of the day, the words unreal and unbelievable are thrown around a lot but there is no words to describe that.”

Newman made his ninth start of the season but he only pitched a total of 27 innings heading into Saturday. His ERA, before Saturday, was over 9.80. Clevenger was making just his eighth appearance of the season and had thrown a total of eight innings heading into Saturday.

“I had no idea what my role was (on Saturday),” Clevenger said. “I was ready to go, any of the games, any time. Thirty minutes before that game, he said you got the ball, let’s go. I got ready to go and just trusted my catcher, trusted my pitching coach and went out there and threw strikes.”

Samford now gets ready for an NCAA Baseball Tournament appearance. The Bulldogs will find out their regional destination during the selection show on ESPN2 on Monday at 11 a.m. CT.  

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