Bellevue clinches outright NSAA Baseball Title

Zach Wilson fired a four-hit shutout to secure a series sweep over Waldorf
Zach Wilson fired a four-hit shutout to secure a series sweep over Waldorf

FOREST CITY, Iowa -- The No. 4 Bellevue University baseball team complete a four-game sweep over Waldorf University on Saturday afternoon with a pair of victories in a North Star Athletic Association double-header at Forest City High School. The victories mean that for the second-straight season the Bruins are the NSAA Regular-Season Champions and earn one of the North Star's two automatic bids to the NAIA National Tournament's Opening Round.

The Bruins earned the series win with a 13-5 win in the opener and earned the double-header and series sweep with a 2-0 victory in the second game of Saturday's twin-bill.

BU sees their overall record improve to 47-7 on the year as they finish the season with a 23-1 mark in league play where they will finish at least three games ahead of second place. After being swept, Waldorf sees their overall mark drop to 18-35 and their record in NSAA play fall to 9-15.

Both teams have qualified to partake in next weekend's NSAA Tournament which will be co-hosted by Valley City State University and the University of Jamestown from May 5-9. Bellevue will enter the tournament as the top overall seed and face the eighth-seed in their first game. The entire tournament field, bracket, and game times will be announced when all teams have concluded the regular-season.

Game One: Bellevue 13, Waldorf 5

The Bruins overcame a season-worst seven errors with a 19-hit effort as they picked up a 13-5 win to clinch the series and the out-right regular-season title in Saturday's first game.

Bellevue grabbed the game's first lead when Hunter Kelly singled in Matt Evans with the game's first run. Evans would later single home Brandon Salmon as BU doubled their lead to 2-0 in the fourth.

That lead was short-lived as Waldorf struck for a pair of runs in the home half of the frame. The runs came when Joey Ponder reached on a fielding error that allowed two runs to come in as Waldorf tied the game 2-2.

The Bruins broke the tie in the ensuing half inning as they struck for four runs to take a 6-2 lead. Miles Campbell singled home Riley Baasch, Kelly scored on a passed ball, Diego Iribarren singled home Joe Moran, and Jake Browne brought in Campbell with a sac fly.

BU added two runs to their lead in the sixth courtesy of a Moran RBI-groundout and a Campbell RBI-single to take an 8-2 lead.

Derik Bontempo launched his team-leading 16th home run, a three-run shot, in the ninth to stretch the Bruin lead to 12-2. Evans and Blake Macdonald each added run-scoring singles in the inning.

Waldorf added three ninth inning runs but couldn't get closer.

Reid Feeley (W, 8-0) made the start on the will for the Bruins and tossed a season-high eight innings. The junior right-hander struck out nine batters. He allowed just a pair of fourth inning runs and scattered seven hits.

Michael Keeran (L, 5-7) was dealt the loss for the Warriors after being taxed for eight runs – five earned – on 11 hits over six innings of work.

Game Two: Bellevue 2, Waldorf 0

After trading zeroes on the scoreboard for the game's first four innings Riley Baasch put Bellevue ahead with a two-run single to right-center to plate the game's only runs as BU earned the series sweep with a 2-0 victory over Waldorf.

Through the first four innings, Waldorf had out-hit Bellevue by a count of 4-3 but had nothing to show for it.

In the fifth Blake Macdonald and Jake Browne reached via a walk and being hit by a pitch with one out. Browne was replaced on the bases by Brandon Salmon. Matt Evans then sac bunted the runners to second and third before Derik Bontempo was intentionally walked to bring Baasch to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Baasch made the Warriors pay with a two-run single into the right-center gap for a 2-0 BU lead.

The Warriors managed to muster just a pair of base-runners over the remainder of the game, neither of whom made it past first base.

Zach Wilson (W, 8-1) earned the complete game shutout after striking out four and scattering four hits in seven innings on the bump.

Jimmy Quirk (L, 3-3) was saddled with the loss despite five innings of effective pitching. He limited the Bruin offense to a pair of runs on four hits and four walks while striking out two.