LEWISTON, Idaho -- The No. 2 Bellevue University baseball team rallied from a 5-3 deficit to defeat No. 6 Auburn-Montgomery, 6-5 in 10 innings, in their first game of the 2016 Avista-NAIA World Series.
Bellevue trailed 5-3 headed into the late innings but tied the game in the seventh before scoring the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run in the 10th inning.
Bontempo led off the tenth inning off with a single and stole second after consecutive outs. Jake Browne then lined a single into center field that allowed Bontempo to come in to score on with the throw from center bounding off Bontempo and allow Browne to advance to second.
Reliever Leland Tilley (10-1, 1.66) picked up the win – his 10th of the season – after working 2.1 perfect innings in relief. Tilley becomes the fourth Bruin pitcher to hit the 10-win mark on the season. He leads the nation in both wins (10) and winning percentage (1.000 | 10-0) in relief.
The Bruins got a dream start in the top of the first with a pair of runs in the top of the first. With runners on first and second after back-to-back singles by Ross Feeley and Joe Moran, Derik Bontempo blooped a double into left field to score the game's first run. The next batter up, Joe Mancuso, drove a foul ball down the left field line deep enough to plate the speedy Moran.
BU added another run in the second inning on a double steal when the AUM catcher's throw sailed into left field allowing Matt Evans – who had reached after being hit with a pitch – to score easily.
Auburn Montgomery threatened in the second, loading the bases with nobody out. BU starter Ben McKendall bore down and induced a pop-up and Kevin Rodriguez made a big league stop on the next play and flipped to Feeley at second who made the turn to double up the Warhawks and allow the Bruins to escape the inning unscathed.
The Warhawks did get on the board in the third inning. With runners at the corners, John-Mark Cosby hit into a ground ball double play to allow Cody Rush to score on the play.
AUM tied the game an inning later, scoring twice in the fourth inning on RBIs from Blake Grill and Houston Davenport.
The game remained deadlocked at 3-3 until Cody Rush singled to right in the sixth inning to plate Michael Tedford, giving AUM their first lead of the game. The Warhawks added another run a batter later when Brandon Pooler's sac fly chased in Rush who had advanced to third on a stolen base and throwing error.
McKendall worked 5.2 innings before giving way to the bullpen. His final line saw him surrender five runs on nine hits. Just three runs were earned. He struck out six and walked five.
In the seventh, Bellevue loaded the bases with no outs but Warhawk reliever Seth Arroyo induced a comebacker that resulted in a double play. With runners on second and third Colton Nash lined a single into left to score both runs but was put out trying to advance to second. Despite the out, the Bruins still tied the game at 5-5 ahead of the seventh inning stretch.
Bellevue improves to 4-3 in extra innings in their World Series history. The game was the 62nd extra inning game in the 60-year history of the Avista-NAIA World Series. It is Bellevue's first extra-inning victory at the World Series since beating Warner Southern 5-3 in 10 innings in 2001.
The win is Bellevue's 21st come-from-behind victory of the season.
Jed Carter (2-1) took the loss for the Warhawks (45-16). He allowed a run on two hits in 2.1 innings of relief, striking out four batters along the way.
Head Coach Duane Monlux:
"We've been in this spot before, close games and our guys have been prepared to see a game like this. They weren't rattled and were able to get a couple of clutch two-out hits, make some plays defensively, and our pitchers made some pitches to get outs."
"I thought our bullpen did a great job, they didn't allow a run. Tony and Tilley both did a great job; they really stepped up and showed their toughness."
"Defensively, we made a couple real good plays on the infield, especially Ross who made a couple big plays at second, especially throwing home to get the runner at the plate. Even though we had an inning where we kicked it around a little – that's something we're going to have to eliminate moving forward, you can't give good teams extra outs – but at the end of the day it was a great team win."
Bellevue (52-10) plays their next game on Monday, May 30 at 5 p.m. (Central time) against the winner of tomorrow's game between Tennessee Wesleyan and Sterling. Bellevue's 52 wins on the season are the most for the program since 2008, which is the last time they reached the World Series. The last time the Bruins won more games was in 2005 when BU recorded 54 victories.