The Owls defeated North Florida for the second time in as many days Sunday to climb out of the losers’ bracket and meet East Tennessee State in the A-Sun championship, the second time in two years that Kennesaw State reached the final before falling short.
The Owls ended the season at .500 with a 30-30 record after winning four games in the tournament.
In the final, it was East Tennessee State which struck first, putting up two unearned runs on Kennesaw State ace Stephen Janas — the former Lassiter High School star — before the Owls cut it to a one-run hole with freshman Kal Simmons scoring on an error committed by the Bucs.
East Tennessee State added on one more in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixth before Kennesaw State scored its final run of the game with designated hitter Ryan Raper, a Hillgrove High School product, scoring on an Andy Almonte RBI.
But the Bucs responded again, scoring another pair of runs in the seventh to put the game away at 7-2.
East Tennessee State starter Kerry Doane (13-1) went the distance, allowing just four hits and giving up just one earned run.
Janas (9-1) suffered his first loss of the season in what could be the final game as an Owl for the potential high draft prospect.
Simmons was good for two of the Owls’ hits.
In the earlier elimination game against North Florida, the Ospreys put the first run on the board in the bottom of the first with an RBI from Tyler Marincov. Then, in the third the Owls picked up the tying and go-ahead runs from a two-run double from Max Pentecost.
North Florida tied it in the fifth but Kennesaw State responded, scoring on a Dylan Ivey bunt to regain the lead in the sixth, and adding on the fourth and final run as Simmons made his way home in the seventh.
Bo Way had a three-hit game while Pentecost, Jacob Bruce and Peyton Hart each had two.
Bruce, Pentecost and Chris McGowan each earned spots on the all-tournament team. Bruce hit .409, Pentecost hit .320 with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs and McGowan earned an on-base percentage of .448.