CLAREMORE, Okla. (May 10, 2013) – Marshall Williams tied the game in the seventh inning with a solo home run and gave the Chaparrals the decisive lead in the ninth inning with a single and No.4 Lubbock Christian University came back to defeat No.11 Bellevue University 3-1 in an elimination game between the only two ranked teams of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round Claremore Bracket Friday night.
Heading into the seventh inning, LCU trailed 1-0, as the game's lone run up to that point was a solo home run by Wayland Baptist University transfer Brian Embery in the second inning over the short porch in right field. Embery's hit stood as the Bruins only hit over the game's first 5.2 innings, as Chaps pitcher Derek Loera did his part in keeping the win within reach. Williams belted a pitch from Bruins starting pitcher Robert Greco over the right-centerfield fence with one out in the seventh inning to tie the game 1-1. The homer was Williams' fourth of the season and it was the first allowed by Greco on the season in over 85 innings pitched on the season.
Bruins shortstop Beau Dahman gave LCU hope in the ninth inning, as he missed a routine groundball hit by Joel Lutz, who was able to head into second base. Kamron Bownds pinch ran for Lutz, and with the middle infield attentive to Bownds, Brennyn Smmith was able to hit a ball through the right side of the infield to place runners on the corners with no outs. Bellevue made a pitching change and lefty Kyle Kinman replaced Greco. Williams, with the infield playing in, hit a smash through the right side and into right field to score Bownds for a 2-1 lead. It completed a three-hit performance by Williams and it was his first hit of the season against a left handed pitcher. Wigberto Nevarez followed with a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bruins produced a pair of singles, but Loera completed his fifth complete game of the season getting Andy Smolinski to hit into a 1-6-3 double play to seal the win. Loera allowed one run on five hits and struck out six batters. He improved to 10-4 and becomes LCU's first 10-win pitcher this season. Greco suffered the tough loss, falling to 8-4 on the season. In eight innings, he allowed two earned runs on seven hits, striking out 10 batters (no walks issued).
Along with Williams, LCU also received a trio of hits from Christian Vazquez (3-for-5). The Chaps avoided elimination and improved to 43-16 on the season. Bellevue has their season end with a 45-10 mark.
The Chaps aim for a pair of games and a pair of wins Saturday. The day begins at 1 p.m. for the Chaps, as they face Lyon College at 1 p.m. in another elimination game. If LCU wins, they will hang around to face Rogers State at 5 p.m. If LCU can win both, then there will be a winner-take-all title game Monday against RSU.