Big fifth inning lifts USAO over Bruins, 15-4

Big fifth inning lifts USAO over Bruins, 15-4

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BELLEVUE, Neb. -- Second-seeded University of Arts and Sciences (Okla.) pounded out 15 hits and used a big fifth inning as the Drovers upset top-seeded Bellevue University, 15-4, in a winner's bracket contest Tuesday in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round (Bellevue Bracket) at Roddy Field. 

Bellevue (50-10) will battle either Davenport University or the University of Antelope Valley in an elimination game at noon on Wednesday. The Drovers, who improved to 43-15 on the season, advanced to the championship game at 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Six Drovers collected multiple hits in the contest and Frankely Gonzalez, Christian Perez, Randy Ventura and Henry Rodriguez combined to drive in 13 of USAO's 15 runs. 

The Bruins managed six hits in the contest. Diego Iribarren drove in two runs, going 1-for-3 with a triple. 

USAO got out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring on an RBI single up the middle by Ventura that scored Gonzalez, who led off the game with a double to deep center. 

The Drovers made it 2-0 in the top of the second after Kenniel Rivera scored on a fielding error by Bruin starting pitcher Ben McKendall

USAO erupted for nine runs in the top of the fifth inning, highlighted by a three-run homer to left field by Perez. The Stars collected eight hits in the inning as Ventura, Dillon White, Rivera, Rodriguez, and Gonzalez also drove in runs as USAO built an 11-0 lead. 

After being held hitless for the first four innings, the Bruins strung together four-consecutive hits capped by an RBI single to center field by Miles Campbell and a two-run triple to right field by Iribarren as BU sliced the deficit to 11-3. 

After a pair of hit batsmen and a walk loaded the bases, a two-run single by Rodriguez pushed the Drover lead back to 10 runs at 13-3 in the top of the sixth frame. 

A two-run home run off the center-field scoreboard by Ventura gave the Drovers a 15-3 advantage in the top of the seventh inning. 

After Drover starter Jose Hidalgo was replaced by Carlos Pimental, Hunter Kelly led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo homer to right center-field to cut the margin to 15-4. 

Hidalgo (9-1) earned the win, scattering five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings on the mound. 

McKendall suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 9-1 after allowing 10 hits and seven earned runs, with one walk and seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of work. 

The winner of each of the nine Opening Round sites, along with host Lewis-Clark State College, will advance to the 61st Avista-NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho on May 26-June 2.