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Casey helps team win World Series

Baseball: Bell-Jeff grad and Concordia play Cinderella role in winning NAIA title.

June 08, 2011|By Grant Gordon and Jeff Tully, grant.gordon@latimes.com; jeff.tully@latimes.com

BURBANK — Danny Casey had his share of success as a baseball player at Bellarmine-Jefferson High and Glendale Community College.

However, as far as team success goes, what the player has experienced this season with Concordia University is unsurpassed.

Casey and the Cinderella Concordia squad culminated the greatest season in program history with a 9-3 victory over Lubbock Christian on Friday night in Lewiston, Idaho, in the championship game of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics World Series in front of a reported 3,075 fans.

"Everybody thought we couldn't do this," said Casey of his Eagles squad, the only team in the World Series that was never ranked in the NAIA Top 25. "We beat every team … We're the best team here."

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Casey sent a run-scoring single up the middle to score the ninth run of the game in the top of the ninth and the fifth run of the stanza, as the Eagles turned a close game into a blowout.

"It just started falling into place," said Casey of the game-clinching rally. "It's contagious."

For the game, the former All-Area standout went one for three with a run scored, a run batted in, a stolen base and was hit by pitches twice. He also had four assists playing flawlessly at third base.

Concordia, the ninth seed in the 10-team tournament, finished its season at 44-19, winning a first-ever NAIA title in the process and becoming the first Golden State Athletic Conference squad to do so.

Casey began Concordia's offensive output in the top of the third when he was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He eventually came around to score on a base hit by Matt Ivanoff for a 1-0 lead.

Lubbock Christian (50-14) answered right back with two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Casey capped the Eagles' scoring in the five-run ninth when he singled up the middle to drive in the final run of a magical season.

"It's amazing," said Casey of winning the championship. "I can't even explain it."

In the 55-year history of the NAIA World Series, no team from the Golden State Athletic Conference had ever taken home the national crown.

The Eagles, who finished at fourth place in the GSAC in the regular season, turned the season around in an historic way, as the program had 25 wins over a span of 28 games to end the season.

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