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Missouri Baptist holds off Oklahoma Wesleyan, 5-3

May 26, 2017
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LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) Strong pitching propels No. 6 Missouri Baptist to a 5-3 victory over No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan Friday afternoon at the 2017 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series. The 61st annual event is taking place at Harris Field.

With the victory, Missouri Baptist improves to 3-2 all-time at the World Series and 45-14 on the season. The Spartans, who also qualified in 2013, are also 2-0 in first round games at the event. In 2013, Missouri Baptist downed Sterling (Kan.), 8-3.

The Spartans' pitching staff is the first to hold the hot-hitting Eagles under double-digit scoring since Friends (Kan.) accomplished the feat on April 23 – a span of 11-straight games.

Michael Syrett (8-1) earned the win for Missouri Baptist, allowing three runs and six hits across 6.1 innings. The Cyprus, Calif., native also struck out six to extend his streak of five strike outs-or-more to five games.

Miguel Ruiz and Nick Vichio handled the final 2.2 innings for Missouri Baptist, scattering three hits and allowing no runs. Vichio was credited with his 14th save of the season, which ties him for the NAIA lead.

The bulk of Missouri Baptist's offense came in the bottom of the third inning, as the club scored four runs on six hits – its total for the contest – to take the initial 4-0 lead over Oklahoma Wesleyan. Back-to-back bunt singles loaded the bases for the Spartans with no outs for Aaron Collazo. The San Antonio, Texas, native wasted no time, shooting the first pitch into right field for a two-run RBI single.

Culver Plant followed suit with a single of his own, before a fielder's choice by Drew Kitson plated the final run of the frame.

Oklahoma Wesleyan, which entered the day ranked among the top 10 nationally in 11 offensive categories, lit the scoreboard in the next half-inning. A one-out, bases loaded double past the diving Missouri Baptist first baseman by Alex Lugo cut to deficit to 4-2 in the top of the fourth.

A hit batter re-loaded the bases and continued the rally for the Eagles, as Trevor Achenbach's single to left field pulled Oklahoma Wesleyan within one run, 4-3. However, Syrett got out of the jam on the next pitch, as Rudolfo Oleta ground out to the pitcher's mound.

The run of bases loaded opportunities continued into the top of the fourth, as Missouri Baptist packed the bags with two outs. Kitson – the Spartans' RBI leader on the season with 62 – failed to capitalize, chasing a slider in the dirt to become Oklahoma Wesleyan's Zach Johnson's third strike out on the afternoon.

The Spartans made it 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth on a ground out to second by Angel Cruz. Austin Rieman, who scored from third on the play, was hit-by-pitch to open the inning.

Oklahoma Wesleyan brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth inning, but failed to score.

Johnson (11-1) took the loss for the Eagles – his first of the season.

The Eagles drop to 51-11 on the season and fall into the loser's side of the bracket. Oklahoma Wesleyan looks to keep its red banner hopes alive tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. against No. 7 Science & Arts (Okla.).