LUBBOCK, Texas (May 11, 2013) - No.4 Lubbock Christian University's hopes for a trip to the NAIA World Series in their final year of NAIA competition came to an end Saturday in the Claremore Bracket of the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, as the Chaparrals defeated Lyon College 15-7 to earn a trip to the championship game of the tournament, but fell 8-4 in the game to host Rogers State University, who advances to the NAIA World Series for a second consecutive season.
LCU stepped into their game with Rogers State needing to defeat the Hillcats twice after coming into the championship game from the losers bracket. Rogers State set the tone early with a two-out solo home run from Jose Olazagasti, who circled the bases energized as if he had hit a walk-off home run. LCU matched the run in the bottom of the first inning with Brandon Wilson hitting a single to left field to score Christian Vazquez. The Chaps could have scored more with the bases loaded, but they were unable to and the game was tied 1-1 after the first inning. RSU went on to score the game's next four runs for 5-1 lead. A lead-off double by Keith Poverud was the first of four hits in the second leading to a pair of runs, and Tyler Wheeler added a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning and Hector Rivera singled in a run in the sixth inning to make up the 5-1 lead. RSU starting pitcher Kyle Duncan had a stretch of 13 batters faced without allowing a hit, and that streak ended in the seventh inning with Brett Kauten hitting his NAIA leading 19th home of the season. The home run cut the deficit to 5-2 and Brennyn Smith followed three batters later representing the tying run with two on base, but the threat was ended with a fly ball caught by Poverud in right field. RSU answered right back with a two-run single from Olazagasti and a single to left field from Wheeler in the top of the eighth inning for a 8-2 lead. Brent Leslie hit a double to right field in the eighth inning to score Reagan Pearson, and Vazquez followed with an RBI-single to cut the deficit to 8-4. It would be as close as the Chaps would get.
Duncan pitched the entire game for RSU and allowed four runs off nine hits to improve to 7-3. Kyle Forsyth received the nod to pitch for the Chaps and he allowed seven runs (six earned) off 13 hits in 7.2 innings. He fell to 8-2 with the loss. Colton Campbell led RSU with five hits to match a NAIA Opening Round single-game record. Brennyn Smith and Vazquez each went 2-for-5 in the losing cause for LCU.
LCU had to play from behind in the opener as well. Chaps starting pitcher Jarett Porter had control problems early. He walked three batters in the first inning and a Colby Rogers single gave Lyon a 1-0 lead. Kauten, who had two home runs on the day, tied the game with a lead-off solo home run in the bottom of the second inning for 1-1 score. He also gave LCU the lead with a sacrifice fly in the third inning and they took a 3-1 lead when Jason Fisch hit a double in the ensuing at-bat. The score remained the same until the teams combined for 10 hits and 12 runs scored in the sixth inning. In the inning, Brent Leslie hit a two-run home run to kick off the Chaps explosive scoring. It was his first homer of the season and fourth of his career. The Chaps saw a pitching change in the inning, but would go on to score four more runs with two outs. Three of the runs came off a three-run home run by Wigberto Nevarez. Lyons' crazy sixth inning was sparked by a string of seven consecutive batters reaching base and six via hits. Rogers had the only extra-base hit in the inning with a double. After Lyon's six-run sixth inning, they were unable to put any additional runs on the board.
The Chaps saw another powerful hitting performance in the eighth inning as they put five more runs on the board off four hits. Joel Lutz and Nevarez each drove in two runs with their hits in the five-run eighth inning. LCU capped things off in the ninth inning putting the final run on the board and bringing the final score to 15-7. It was Wilson scoring the run with a sacrifice fly.
Brandon Wilson led the Chaps going 5-for-5 with two runs and two runs-batted-in. The five hits marked the second five-hit performance for Wilson this season and it matched a program single game record and an Opening Round contest record. Nevarez was 3-for-6 in the game and had five runs-batted-in. Jason Fisch had a solid performance going 3-for-4 and one run-batted-in. The Chaps matched a season high with 19 hits, but they also hit into season high three double plays. Porter received the win on the mound for the Chaps (9-4), as Talan Roepcke for Lyon got the loss (7-5). Dalton Silva recorded his first save this season, pitching the final three innings.
The Chaps season comes to an end with a 44-17 record. The season brought a close to the collegiate college careers of seven LCU seniors. Kamron Bownds, Jason Fish, Kyle Forsyth, Brent Leslie, Reagan Pearson, Brennyn Smith and Marshall Williams each played in their final games as members of the Chaparrals.
The game also closed the chapter on LCU's history in the NAIA. The Chaps, one of the NAIA's premier baseball programs, leave the NAIA with an all-time record of 1,902-912 (67.6%) since 1971. They made nine NAIA World Series appearances, winning national titles in 1983 and 2009. Next season, LCU moves into the NCAA Div. II's Heartland Conference.