America’s Team has done it! For the first time since 1969, the Air Force Falcons have clinched a bid to the NCAA baseball tournament.
AIR FORCE IS HEADING TO THE NCAA TOURNAMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1969. pic.twitter.com/ZrVJEzbI8a— Nick Lorensen (@nlorensensports) May 29, 2022
The Falcons made light work of its Mountain West foes, sweeping the weekend.
It began on Thursday, facing number one seeded UNLV. Co-Mountain West pitcher of the year Paul Skenes proved why the honor was correct, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out a season-high 10 Rebels. It was also his tenth win of the season, tying Dave Lyons (1994) for most in an Air Force season.
On the offense end, his battery mate Braydon Altorfer did a lot of the damage. Hitting in four runs, he launched a two-run bomb in the fourth inning to give the Falcons a 4-0 lead. Air Force would go on to win 5-2 and face San Jose State on Friday evening.
In that Friday evening game, the Falcons had another stellar pitching performance. Sophomore Doyle Gehring struck out a career-high 13 batters in 7.1 innings and a 7-3 Falcons victory.
Five different Falcons picked up an RBI as they knotted up a run in each of the final innings.
That win meant that the Falcons had to win only one more game. After the losers bracket got into form, their matchup would once again be against San Jose State.
It was a struggle early but the 7th inning was where damage was done. With bases loaded in a 3-3 game, Trayden Tamiya cleared them with a double. The Falcons would add to the lead, going into the 9th with an 8-3 lead.
The close game was set up by another strong pitching performance as Dylan Rogers pitched 7.1 innings of three-run ball, striking out a career-high 8 Spartans.
Air Force starting pitchers accounted for 31.2 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, and 31 strikeouts over the weekend.
After Rogers was pulled, CJ Dornak would come in to close the door. The win clinched Air Force’s first NCAA tournament bid since 1969.
Now their fate rests in the hands of the selection committee. The selection show will be televised on ESPN2 on Monday at Noon ET/10 a.m. MT.
This will be the first time ever that two academies have made the NCAA baseball tournament.