Bruins eliminated from NSAA Tournament by Jamestown

Jake Browne recorded a team-high four hits in the marathon game
Jake Browne recorded a team-high four hits in the marathon game

VALLEY CITY, N.D. -- The No. 2 Bellevue University baseball team was eliminated from the 2017 North Star Athletic Association Tournament on Monday by the University of Jamestown by a score of 7-6 in 10 innings at Charlie Brown Stadium on the campus of Valley City State University.

It was the seventh match-up between BU and UJ this season after the two clubs didn't meet at all a season ago. Bellevue won the season series (4-3) but it was Jamestown that won each of the last two match-ups to eliminate the Bruins and advance to tomorrow 12 p.m. NSAA Tournament Championship Game where they await the winner of Valley City State-Mayville State.

Bellevue falls to 49-9 on the year but, having already secured one of two bids guaranteed to the NSAA, knows they will be playing in next week's NAIA Opening Round Tournament. Jamestown improved to 40-18 with the victory and knows they will need a victory in tomorrow's NSAA Championship Game to reach the National Tournament.

Through nearly six innings the score was tied 4-4 before a 5 ½ hour rain/lightning delay forced the teams to sit around before play finally resumed at 6:30 p.m. When nine innings wasn't enough to settle things, the game proceeded to the 10th where Bellevue took a 6-5 leaded headed into the bottom half before Jamestown scratched across two runs to earn the 7-6 win.

The Jimmies grabbed the early 1-0 lead on Tyler Ludlow's RBI-double down the right field line in the home half of the first to score Landon Uetz. That would begin a string of four-straight half innings of teams scoring a run.

When the dust settled headed to the middle of the third inning the score was tied 2-2. Bellevue scored on a Diego Iribarren fielder's choice in the second and a Joe Moran RBI-groundout in the third while Jamestown grabbed a second run on a Christian Shouman single.

In the away half of the fourth Derik Bontempo gave Bellevue their first lead of the game with a two-run double off the center field fence.

Jamestown struck back with runs in fifth and sixth, respectively, to tie the ballgame up at 4-4 before weather joined the game.

After the lengthy delay the score remained deadlocked until the ninth. There, BU took a 5-4 lead on a Miles Campbell RBI-single off the glove of UJ's Landon Uetz that allowed pinch-runner Blake Macdonald to score the go-ahead run. Bellevue then had the bases loaded with just one out but were unable to score more.

Uetz atoned in the bottom of the ninth with a one-out home run to center to tie the game at 5-5 and force extra innings.

In the additional frame Bellevue grabbed a run on a Uetz throwing error as he tried to throw out Jake Browne out at second on a double-steal attempt but the ball sailed into right field allowing Brandon Salmon to score. A one-out walk issued to Bontempo again gave the Bruins multiple base-runners with less than two outs but they were unable to capitalize further as they stranded both, two of 14 runners left on base in the game.

Quinn Irey opened the bottom of the 10th with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sac bunt from Peter Pennylegion. Scooter Turin then hit a dribbler up the middle that Iribarren was able to knock down but with the ball travelling so slow he had no plays. The Jimmies tied the game during the ensuing at-bat when Max Dwyer's pickoff attempt got by Hunter Robson at first and Irey came in to score. An intentional walk to Christian Shouman and a double-steal put UJ runners at second and third with one out before Kory Wolden popped out to Browne on a bunt attempt. Nico Kelly then delivered the game-winning hit up the middle after taking a very close two-strike pitch for a ball to prolong his at-bat.

Neither BU starter Zach Wilson nor UJ starter Lance Kotter factored in the decision despite solid efforts that kept their respective teams in the ballgame.

Ultimately, Chase Thometz (W, 7-4) earned the win in relief after coming on to begin the 10th. Max Dwyer (L, 1-2) took the loss.

Bellevue will take a week to regroup before heading into next week's NAIA Opening Round Tournament. The Bruins are one of nine Opening Round hosts and will welcome in four other teams for the double-elimination tournament which will be held at Bellevue East High School's Roddy Field from Monday-Thursday, May 15-18. The full tournament pairings and bracket will be announced on Thursday evening.