The Tabor College baseball team?s 2015 Avista-NAIA World Series run came to a close with a 5-1 loss to top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist in an elimination game Monday.
The Bluejays and the Bison were not unfamiliar opponents. The teams had met in late March at Wichita State?s Eck Stadium, with Oklahoma Baptist gaining a 5-4 victory.
While the Bluejays had a shot at evening the count, missed opportunities left Tabor trailing when the final out was made.
Tabor stranded a total of 12 base runners in the outing, leaving the bases loaded three times. The Bluejays recorded seven hits?batting .212 for the game?but never could come up with that one clutch hit.
Perhaps Tabor?s best scoring opportunities presented themselves early, as Bison starter Nathan Thompson got off to a somewhat shaky start, reaching 55 pitches after just two innings of work.
In the opening inning, Thompson threw nine pitches to Tabor?s leadoff batter Michael Baca, who touched him for a single to start the game. A one-out walk by Alex Couch and a single by Matthew Molbury loaded the bases. But Thompson escaped the jam with two quick outs by way of strikeout and fly out.
As in the first inning, the Bluejays loaded the bases in the second, thanks to a one-out double by Colton Flax, a walk and a hit by pitch. Still, the Bluejays couldn?t capitalize, and Thompson escaped unscathed.
Then Thompson began to settle in?he gave up just two hits over the next 3 1/3 innings after surrendering three hits in the first two innings alone.
Meanwhile, the Bison slowly added runs to the board beginning in the second inning. After the Bison recorded a leadoff double and a one-out single, center fielder Brent McClure limited the damage by throwing out Joey Szczepanski attempting to score. OBU did score one run on an RBI single before the inning ended.
OBU provided more plate support for Thompson by adding a second run in the third inning and another in the fifth to stake a 3-0 lead.
Manny DeLeon coaxed a leadoff walk off Thompson in the sixth inning, and Jerrik Sigg hit a one-out double to end Thompson?s outing at 110 pitches. Flax coaxed a walk off reliever Taylor Hearn to load the bases, but a double play held the Bluejays scoreless.
Kyle Fimbrez then threw two 1-2-3 innings before Brad Adams came in to close the game in the top of the ninth. By this point, OBU had extended its lead to 5-0, scoring one run in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Down to their final three outs, the Bluejays created some excitement late.
Flax reached base on a one-out walk for the second time in the game. Then McClure was hit by a pitch. Gadiel Baez hit a two-out RBI single to put the Bluejays on the board, then Couch singled to load the bases. Molbury stepped to the plate representing the tying run, but a ground out to the pitcher?s mound ended the game.
Flax led the team offensively, going 2-for-2 at-bat.
Jean Acevedo (10-2) absorbed the pitching loss, giving up 13 hits and five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work. He walked three batters and struck out five. Greg Turner pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief without surrendering a hit.
Tabor concludes its World Series run with a record of 1-2, moving its all-time World Series record to 3-4. The Bluejays wrapped up their successful season with an overall record of 54-12.