The Tabor College baseball team held off a late Bellevue rally to win, 11-5, Thursday and force a second championship game that will decide who will advance to the NAIA World Series.
The Bluejays came out on fire offensively, with the first seven Tabor batters each recording a hit to get to Bruin starter Sean McManus early after just 26 pitches. Relief pitcher Tony Monroy inherited the bases loaded with no outs with Tabor holding a 4-0 lead. After a fielder?s choice, which plated Tabor?s fifth run off the bat of Tanner Bell, Bellevue was able to end the half inning.
The Bluejays scored once in the third inning to take a 6-0 lead, thanks to a leadoff walk by Manny DeLeon followed by a one-out single by Colton Flax and a sacrifice fly by Bell.
The Bruins, meanwhile, relied on the long ball to score all five of their runs. Osvaldo Gonzalez led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a one-run shot off Tabor starter Jean Acevedo, and the Bruins plated two more runs in the seventh on Kevin Rodriguez?s two-run blast. The Bruins left the bases loaded in that inning, but Acevedo escaped with a ground out.
Todd Nicks roughed up Acevedo for a one-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, which closed the gap to 7-5, prompting coach Mark Standiford to bring Michael Ebersole in to pitch. But two batters and two hits later, and David Renteria was called in to relieve him. The Bruins loaded the bases, but Renteria escaped with a line out.
Holding a two-run lead heading into the final inning, Tabor scored four insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Bell led off with a double and scored when Brent McClure reached base on an error. Michael Baca hit a single, then Gadiel Baez coaxed a walk off Connor Chick to force a pitching change. McClure scored on a wild pitch, then Matthew Molbury launched a two-run single off Marcco Lovato to score Tabor?s final two runs, giving the Bluejays an 11-5 lead.
The Bruins got a man on base in their final batting opportunity when Colton Nash was hit by a pitch, and Nicks drew a two-out walk to put runners on the corners, but Renteria gained the third out by strikeout to end the game.
Alex Couch was 3-for-5. DeLeon was 2-for-3 and had two RBIs. Molbury had three RBIs. Acevedo (10-1) earned the pitching win, scattering 6 hits and 5 runs (all earned) over 7 1/3 innings of work while walking four batters and striking out six.
Coming?With the win, Tabor forces a second championship game to decide who will advance to the NAIA World Series. The Bluejays and Bruins will face off Friday at 1 p.m. to decide the champion.
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